Pregnancy Basics (cont.)

Heartburn and indigestion

Hormones and the pressure of the growing uterus cause indigestion and heartburn. Pregnancy hormones slow down the muscles of the digestive tract. So food tends to move more slowly and digestion is sluggish. This causes many pregnant women to feel bloated.

Hormones also relax the valve that separates the esophagus from the stomach. This allows food and acids to come back up from the stomach to the esophagus. The food and acid causes the burning feeling of heartburn. As your baby gets bigger, the uterus pushes on the stomach making heartburn more common in later pregnancy.

What might help:

  • Eat several small meals instead of three large meals - eat slowly.
  • Drink fluids between meals - not with meals.
  • Don't eat greasy and fried foods.
  • Avoid citrus fruits or juices and spicy foods.
  • Do not eat or drink within a few hours of bedtime.
  • Do not lie down right after meals.

Call the doctor if symptoms don't improve after trying these suggestions. Ask your doctor about using an antacid.

Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids (HEM-roidz) are swollen and bulging veins in the rectum. They can cause itching, pain, and bleeding. Up to 50 percent of pregnant women get hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are common during pregnancy for many reasons. During pregnancy blood volume increases greatly, which can cause veins to enlarge. The expanding uterus also puts pressure on the veins in the rectum. Plus, constipation can worsen hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids usually improve after delivery.

What might help:

  • Drink lots of fluids.
  • Eat fiber-rich foods like whole grains, raw or cooked leafy green vegetables, and fruits.
  • Try not to strain with bowel movements.
  • Talk to your doctor about using products such as witch hazel to soothe hemorrhoids.

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Pregnancy Body Changes and Discomforts - Experience Question: Please describe your experience with pregnancy body changes.
Pregnancy Body Changes and Discomforts - Morning Sickness Question: Please describe your experience with morning sickness during pregnancy.
Pregnancy Body Changes and Discomforts - Constipation Question: Discuss the diet or exercise changes you made to relieve constipation during your pregnancy.
Pregnancy Body Changes and Discomforts - Sleep Issues Question: What changes did you make in your sleeping environment or routine while you were pregnant?
Pregnancy Body Changes and Discomforts - Skin Question: Did you get stretch marks or other changes in your skin while pregnant? Please share your experience, including treatments.
Pregnancy Body Changes and Discomforts - Numb Hands Question: If you developed carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy, how did you relieve the symptoms? Do you still have it?
Pregnancy Body Changes and Discomforts - Incontinence Question: Did you have urinary problems while pregnant? What did you do to relieve the symptoms? Do you still have issues?