Why is my heartburn getting worse at 38 weeks pregnant?

Answered by Willian Lymon

Heartburn is a common and frustrating symptom that many pregnant women experience, especially as they reach the later stages of pregnancy. At 38 weeks pregnant, you may be experiencing an increase in heartburn symptoms, and there are a few reasons why this could be happening.

Firstly, as your baby continues to grow and develop, your uterus expands and puts increasing pressure on your stomach. This pressure can push stomach acid back up into your esophagus, causing that burning sensation in the center of your chest. This is because the valve between your esophagus and stomach, known as the lower esophageal sphincter, may become more relaxed during pregnancy due to hormonal changes. This relaxation allows stomach acid to flow back up into the esophagus more easily, leading to heartburn.

Additionally, the hormone progesterone, which is produced in higher levels during pregnancy, can also contribute to worsening heartburn. Progesterone relaxes the smooth muscles in your body, including those in the digestive tract. This relaxation can slow down the movement of food through your digestive system, leading to a buildup of stomach acid and an increased risk of heartburn.

Furthermore, as your baby grows and takes up more space in your abdomen, your stomach may be compressed, reducing its capacity to hold food. This can cause stomach acid to reflux more easily into the esophagus, leading to heartburn symptoms.

It is also worth noting that certain foods and drinks can trigger or worsen heartburn during pregnancy. Spicy, fatty, and acidic foods, as well as carbonated drinks, caffeine, and chocolate, are known to be common triggers for heartburn. Avoiding these triggers and opting for smaller, more frequent meals can help alleviate symptoms.

To manage and reduce heartburn during pregnancy, there are several lifestyle changes and remedies you can try. Eating smaller, more frequent meals can help prevent your stomach from becoming too full and reduce pressure on the stomach. Avoiding trigger foods and drinks, as mentioned earlier, can also help alleviate symptoms. It may be helpful to elevate the head of your bed or use extra pillows to prop yourself up while sleeping, as this can help keep stomach acid down. Over-the-counter antacids may provide temporary relief, but it is always best to consult with your healthcare provider before taking any medications during pregnancy.

The worsening of heartburn symptoms at 38 weeks pregnant can be attributed to the increased pressure on the stomach from the growing uterus, the relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter due to hormonal changes, and the reduced capacity of the stomach. By making lifestyle changes, avoiding trigger foods, and discussing any concerns with your healthcare provider, you can effectively manage and reduce heartburn symptoms during your pregnancy.