I’ve just started seeing a lovely lady who’s been suffering from horrendous heartburn during her pregnancy. I’ve been looking into ways she can alleviate her pain and symptoms alongside her weekly reflexology sessions.
Here are my top tips for her and others who might be suffering.
Why we get heartburn:
Heartburn plagues most mums-to-be at some point because progesterone, the hormone that relaxes muscles in pregnancy, also relaxes the stomach valve that keeps acid out of your oesophagus. In addition, your growing uterus is crowding the stomach, forcing acid up into the oesophagus.
My top tips are:
- Instead of three main meals a day, try five or six smaller ones. An overly full stomach can contribute to heartburn just as it could when you’re not pregnant. Eating smaller and often will hopefully help you.
- Try to get most of your fluids by sipping liquids between, rather than during, meals.
- Focus on Fluids. Liquid-y foods are less likely to cause problems than solids, since they move through the stomach more quickly. Soups, yogurts, smoothies and puddings are good choices. Look for liquids that offer plenty of protein, such as drinkable yogurt. When eating solids, chew slowly and extremely well, until they’re almost liquefied.
- After a meal make sure you don’t lie down and don’t do anything that requires you to bend over. Lying down or bending will help wash the acid back up into your oesophagus.
- Try not to eat for at least three hours before you go to sleep or lie down. You should also try to avoid drinking fluids a few hours before bedtime too.
- Try to sleep with your upper body slanting upwards so your head and shoulders are above your bump to keep the stomach acid down.
- Fat, caffeine, chocolate, citrus fruits could all cause heartburn. However, what causes reflux for one, might not be a trigger for another. Just try and stay away from anything that you think particularly aggravates it.If you’re not sure what’s feeding your heartburn keep a food diary to see if there’s a common theme to what brings it on or if there’s anything that you eat that doesn’t seem to cause you any trouble.
- Milk can increase stomach acid, making your heartburn worse. If you notice your heartburn is worse after milk, swap to an alternative to see if this helps.
- Eating almonds and drinking peppermint tea could also help alleviate the symptoms.
- Drinking water with lemon. Lemon juice increases the production of digestive juices and bile, which helps balance low stomach acids and aids in digestion. But remember small sips, do not drink large amounts in one go.
On a side note haemorrhoids can also be an itchy and unpleasant addition to pregnancy. If you’re suffering from constipation, a big cause for haemorrhoids (aka piles) then make sure you’re eating a fibre-rich diet with plenty of water to help soften your stools and keep them regular. Don’t stand for long periods of time and try and exercise to increase your blood circulation.
If you’re not suffering from constipation, piles are also caused by your growing uterus putting pressure on the pelvic veins and the large vein on the right side of the body that receives blood from the lower limbs. This pressure can slow the return of blood from the lower half of your body, increasing the pressure on the veins below your uterus, causing them to become more dilated or swollen.
Berries such as blueberries or strawberries could help to make your vein walls more healthy, although more research is needed to be sure. You’d need to have at least three servings of these berries a week for any possible benefit. Garlic could also help tone up your blood vessels. Where possible, use whole cloves of garlic in cooking, or if you prefer garlic capsules, make sure they are rich in allicin, the active ingredient in garlic to really make a difference.
As reflexology is naturally relaxing, it’s a wonderful treatment to have if you’re suffering from any painful or frustrating pregnancy symptoms. It can help alleviate heartburn and haemorrhoids as well as constipation, insomnia, morning sickness, aches and pains etc.. Please do get in touch to find out more.
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