There’s an old wives’ tale that goes something along the lines of if you suffer from heartburn in pregnancy your baby will be born with a full head of hair and there is a little truth to this old myth thanks to a study undertaken by John Hopkins University. The study found that the hormones that modulate fetal hair growth are also involved in relaxing the muscle at the bottom of a woman’s oesophagus. Two out of three of my boys were born with lots of hair especially James my youngest son.
When I was pregnant with the boys I suffered from terrible heartburn. I had never experienced it before and as a single 21-year-old mum to be who was still living at home with her parents it was pretty scary. I rang my midwife in the first instance and she reassured me that the burning feeling I was experiencing was probably just heartburn (I’d eaten not long before the pain came on) but she wanted me to see the GP to be on the safe side. She was right by the way it was just heartburn and it made my second and third trimesters of each pregnancy a misery at times.
What is heartburn
Heartburn can happen at any time of the day but usually after a person has eaten, at bedtime or during the night. In most cases, it can be eased quickly but it can also last for several hours or more. It’s not unusual for sufferers to experience sleepless nights as lying down can make heartburn worse and increase the pain. The pain can be felt as a burning feeling or heat that begins in your chest and rises upwards to the throat. It is caused by stomach acid rising up through a valve from the stomach into the food pipe causing irritation.
Symptoms of heartburn include a burning sensation in your chest or throat after eating, fluid in the back of your throat that tastes, hot, sour or salty, sometimes a pressure behind the breastbone, feeling bloated, the need to burp and/or feeling sick.
What triggers heartburn
- Certain foods and drinks – Fatty / greasy foods, acidic foods, alcohol and carbonated drinks are well-known triggers.
- Stress – if you are having a stressful time of late you may find that you suffer from heartburn. Try to relax when you can – read a book, listen to your favourite music or even go for a gentle walk as they can all help reduce your stress levels.
- Obesity – being overweight more than likely means more pressure on your stomach this can be a cause of heartburn.
- Meal times – eating before bedtime isn’t a good idea if you suffer from heartburn as lying down will allow the acid from your stomach to move up your food pipe causing irritation.
I still suffer from heartburn, not as often as when I was pregnant or postpartum thank goodness but still once or twice a month, but I do know that if I eat too late, eat before bedtime or eat certain foods then I will suffer. It has taken me a few years to realise that raw onions, tomatoes and fizzy drinks are my worst enemy when it comes to heartburn. I try to avoid these as much as possible and if I can’t do that I certainly limit my intake to a small portion.
When I go to New York in a few weeks’ time I can’t wait to experience everything the city has to offer especially the food from the street food, restaurants and diners to the cafes and bistros. I want to try them all but I will be mindful about the choices I make the last thing I want is to be in pain whilst on holiday.
Sometimes there is no escaping heartburn but there are ways you can reduce the chances of it occurring including
- Avoid eating late in an evening – it is advised that you don’t lie down for three hours after eating so if you work late / night shifts try to take this in consideration when planning your meal times.
- Avoid food and drinks that you know trigger your heartburn – fatty foods, acidic foods and carbonated drinks are all known causes of heartburn. If you know that these foods cause you upset eat them in moderation or not at all. Smaller meal portions may also help.
- Don’t exercise straight after eating – wait at least two hours so that your food has time to settle.
- Don’t wear tight fitting clothes – tight waistbands will squeeze your stomach.
If you are at all concerned about heartburn or any symptoms you are experiencing especially if over a long period of time see your GP who will be able to help ease your discomfort and concerns.
*This post is in conjunction with Rennie® but all thoughts are my own. Rennie Peppermint Chewable Tablets for heartburn and indigestion. Rennie Liquid Heartburn Relief Oral Suspension. Rennie Heartburn, Indigestion & Wind Relief Chewable Tablets. Always read the label.