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Pregnancy and Acid Reflux

February 27, 2012

Notice it says to drink lots of water. We suggest drinking Evamor Alkaline Water because it naturally helps bring relief to the uncomfortable burning sensation of acid reflux. And if you are pregnant, you should be drinking tons of water anyway.

Credit: Arabnews.com

Pregnancy is a special event that brings joy to the parents-to-be, siblings, grandparents and the whole family. A new life is being formed and will be born. Despite this unanimous delight and feelings of anticipation, there are moments of suspense and dread during the nine months to come lest something goes amiss for either mother or baby due to endogenous or exogenous risk factors. Though discomfort, malaise, disturbed sleep, mixed emotions, complications and other ailments are part of the equation, some lucky moms sail through pregnancies with the least discomfiture or disturbance.

Most of the symptoms are triggered by the pregnancy itself. Hormonal changes occur in the body as soon as the ovum, egg, is fertilized. At every stage of the pregnancy, different physiological and emotional changes take place, causing discomfort and fear for the mother-to-be who needs extreme psychological and physical care from the medical specialist (medical care and close follow-ups), people around her (assistance in daily chores) and the new father in particular (emotional support).

Because of the physiological changes in the mother and the demands of the developing fetus, special attention should be given to the condition as early as the first trimester to prevent complications. Such care and medical follow-ups can ease pregnancy anxieties and difficulties, avert physical and emotional pain and unnecessary emergencies, as well as fetal malformation.

Both mother and baby should be closely monitored for any signs of trouble. A specialized doctor should be assigned for the follow-ups, or according to the need, in order to arrest pregnancy complications or start early treatment. Since this is not my area of expertise, I will not get into it.

What I shall discuss today is complementary natural care — something the treating doctor may or may not prescribe. I shall also address certain health aspects, which should not be neglected during pregnancy, as they may have regrettable repercussion on either the health or life of the mother or fetus.

Here are the prominent ones: morning sickness, heartburn, gas, constipation, hemorrhoids, anemia, hypertension, edema, gestation diabetes, bleeding gums, varicose veins, leg cramps, disturbed sleep and stretch marks. I shall start with the most common ones: Morning sickness and heartburn.

■ Morning sickness is one of the most pronounced and prevalent disorders during the first trimester of gestation, triggered by hormonal changes. It comes with nausea, and sometimes, vomiting. In very few women, it can continue right through the entire pregnancy with severe vomiting, requiring medical treatment and sometimes hospitalization through intravenous (IV) nourishment to prevent dehydration and deficiencies.

Though an accepted condition during pregnancies, morning sickness can lead to weakness, deficiencies and dehydration at times. That is why the suffering mother should remain well hydrated with plenty of water and fresh juices and well nourished with nutrient-dense foods and supplements.

A nutritious diet is very important to minimize the effects of morning sickness. It should be rich in lean protein (skinless chicken and turkey, eggs, lean meat, fish, seafood) and nutrient-dense deep colored vegetables (dark leafy greens, squash, carrots, cruciferous, roots…) and fruits (citrus, berries, papaya, apple, banana…). Sugar, starchy, refined grains and legumes should be avoided. The B vitamins (B6) supplements relieve nausea; they are abundant in the above whole plant foods. Whole wheat toast or dry, non-salty crackers quell morning queasiness.

Though called morning sickness, the condition can continue to the night. The most effective soothers are fresh candied ginger, its cold infusion (mixed with juice or sherbet) or the supplement twice a day and slices of lemon along with vitamins B6 and K. Sucking on a slice of lemon can help, though too much lemon and ginger can irritate the stomach. Vitamins B and C rich dark leafy greens can ease the symptom. Cold chamomile or red raspberry tea can also relieve nausea. Acupuncture and acupressure (or wristbands) also help reduce queasiness.

■ Heartburn is another symptom of pregnancy. The rising stomach acid makes the esophageal muscle lose its elasticity, causing nausea, acid reflux and a burning sensation in the chest. It should be addressed in order to prevent gastric complications and misery. Sometimes, it accompanies morning sickness. Stomach acid, along with hormonal changes, can damage the esophagus. To reduce acid reflux, there is a need to drink sufficient water. It helps flush acidity down and clear the esophagus. A dehydrated stomach can increase nausea and lead to acid reflux and a rare condition of thickened saliva with the desire to spit it out frequently. Because a large amount of water goes to build the amniotic fluid, the intestines dry out, resulting in constipation.

To avoid a full stomach and rising acidity, the main meals should be small with two healthy snacks. They should contain protein, fruits, non-starchy vegetables, whole grains and a few raw or sprouted nuts. Fruits and certain veggies have healing properties. They contain enzymes that ease digestion. Papaya is a leader amongst them. It contains all three enzymes: amylase to digest carbohydrates, protease for protein and lipase for breaking fat. It speeds the transition of food through the digestive tract and helps in the elimination process. Along with plenty of water and vegetable juices, papaya prevents constipation. Caution! Too much papaya intake can trigger diarrhea, which increases the risk of miscarriage. Yogurt is another digestive nourishing food that is soothing to the stomach.

Certain foods are difficult to digest. Fatty meat, fried dishes, spicy and gas-producing foods, legumes and creamy sauces promote indigestion, acid reflux and gas. The last meal should be at least three hours before bedtime to prevent indigestion and acid reflux. Excess water and liquids during the meal increase reflux. Hot drinks, the mint family, coffee, tea, sweets, sugar, pickles, chocolates, alcohol and smoking aggravate nausea and acid reflux. The last two can be very harmful to fetal brain development. Here are some natural remedies to alleviate both conditions.

Enzyme supplement with each meal helps the digestive process.
Probiotics, 4 billion active bacteria, empower the digestive and immune systems and protect against pathogens and contamination.
Calcium, 500mg and liquid magnesium (250m), relieve acid reflux and relax stomach and esophageal muscles. Calcium and vitamin D also support the skeletal structure and teeth and builds bone mass, which are particularly at risk of loss during pregnancies.
Chorella, spirulina, seaweed, wheat grass and other green supplement powders and drinks are of alkaline nature. They neutralize and calm acid reflux.
Licorice root (DGL) capsules relieve the stomach by soothing heartburn.
Slippery elm, Ulmus fulva and marshmallow root, Althea officinalis, have anti-inflammatory properties to soothe the stomach and irritated
esophageal lining.

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