Is acid reflux a sign of pregnancy?
Heartburn and acid reflux are common for most people to experience at some point or another. It’s not, however, necessarily an indication that you may be pregnant. If you experience other symptoms, such as nausea or a missed period in addition to heartburn related discomforts you may need to take a pregnancy test or consult a medical health professional.
Can pregnancy cause heartburn or acid reflux?
Pregnancy increases the risk of experiencing heartburn or acid reflux. During the first trimester, food passes through the oesophagus slowly and the stomach takes longer to empty. The body then has more time to absorb nutrients for the foetus, which can cause indigestion discomforts. By the third trimester, the growing baby can place additional pressure on the stomach, pushing it out of its normal position. This can cause acid reflux discomfort.
When to visit your doctor?
If you find that changes to your eating and lifestyle habits aren’t sufficient enough or the discomfort escalates to pain, it is a good idea to visit your physician. Pain that wakes you up at night or returns as soon as your antacid wears off, difficulty swallowing, coughing, weight loss or even black stools are also flags to visit your doctor.
Your doctor may suggest medications (prescription and non-prescription) that are safe to use during each stage of pregnancy to help alleviate your discomfort. If diagnosed with GERD, it simply means that your heartburn is severe and needs to be controlled in order to protect you from any complications likely to cause damage to the oesophagus, as well as ensure the continued safety of your unborn child.
What can you expect at your doctor’s visit?
Your physician will likely ask you several questions before diagnosing indigestion, heartburn or GERD. Questions which may be asked include:
- Are the symptoms experienced affecting your day-to-day life? And how?
- What are your usual eating habits?
- Have you tried any preventative measures or treatments before your appointment? What were these?
- Have you frequently experienced indigestion discomfort before falling pregnant?
Your physician will examine your chest and stomach by gently pressing on these areas in order to assess where you are experiencing pain and discomfort. Appropriate treatment will then be discussed with you, enabling you to best manage your symptoms and ensure a safe and comfortable pregnancy.