EXPERT ADVICE Pregnancy heartburn

No thanks to pregnancy hormones and their growing baby, many expectant mums experience a pesky burning feeling in their chest.

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When Joan Tan, mum to Clifford, 2, was 33 weeks pregnant with her son, she started experiencing intense chest pains, particularly in the middle of the night, while she was sleeping.

“I would be lying in my bed and wake up by a feeling of pressure in my chest. It would be difficult to move, or even breathe. I would also feel like vomiting, although nothing was coming up,” she recalls.

After Tan’s husband helped her up, standing or pacing around her bedroom helped a little. “I would feel better within 45 minutes to an hour, but it disrupted my sleep so much that I was extremely tired during the day,” Tan says.

Heartburn plagues many expectant mums, especially during the third trimester. The main reason for this is that the hormone that relaxes muscles during pregnancy also relaxes the stomach muscles that keep the gastric juices out of the oesophagus.

Because of the pressure that the baby is putting on the stomach, the acids tend to go up the oesophagus, causing pain or discomfort around the chest.

Because of the pressure that the baby is putting on the stomach, the acids tend to go up the oesophagus, causing pain or discomfort around the chest

SmartParents’ expert Dr Christopher Chong, a Gleneagles Hospital obstetrician-gynecologist says that heartburn can feel something like indigestion with a burning sensation in the chest.

“It’s quite common, but most cases are not so severe. Pregnant woman with a history of heartburn or gastritis before pregnancy tend to get it worse,” he says.

Dr Chong also adds that medication may not help in more severe cases, and it can cause bleeding and ulcers in the stomach.

As hormones and your baby’s growth are the main causes of pregnancy heartburn, Dr Chong warns that “it’s difficult to prevent heartburn”. However, you can do to relieve the discomfort.

1. Exercise

Working out regularly can help relieve heartburn a little. However, don’t go overboard, especially during the third trimester. “With the tiredness from carrying a heavier load, this can cause heartburn to worsen,” Dr Chong explains.