Common Concerns: Heartburn and Hemorrhoids

Sometime in the second trimester, you may begin to experience heartburn, a burning feeling in your chest or throat. This feeling is due to stomach acid moving up into your esophagus. It's not uncommon in pregnancy and is due to your uterus crowding your stomach. Hormonal changes also have an effect by making muscles in your digestive tract remain relaxed rather than tightening to block acid movement out of the stomach.

There are some ways to reduce heartburn:

  • Stay away from alcohol and caffeinated drinks; these can relax the valve between the stomach and the esophagus and exacerbate heartburn.

  • Keep a food log to determine your heartburn triggers; many women find it helps to avoid greasy or spicy foods.

  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals instead of three large ones.

  • Don't eat just before you go to bed or lie down to rest.

  • Rest your head on a few extra pillows in bed to assist gravity in easing heartburn while you sleep.

If heartburn symptoms won't relent, there are several over-the-counter antacids and medications available considered safe to use in pregnancy. Speak with your doctor to find the one right for you.

Being a vegan may help you avoid symptoms of another common condition, hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are swollen, inflamed veins around the anus or lower rectum. They can become itchy, painful, and perhaps even protrude from the anus. These swollen veins are caused by increased pressure from your growing uterus on the rectal veins coupled with pregnancy hormones that can cause veins to dilate and swell. When you strain to have a bowel movement or have a hard bowel movement, the hemorrhoid's fragile surface can be damaged and it can bleed. Vegan diets are typically high in fiber. This high fiber diet, along with exercise and plenty of water, can help you avoid constipation and straining with bowel movements that may aggravate hemorrhoids. If you do have painful hemorrhoids, try easing the pain with an ice pack, a soak in a warm tub, wipes with witch hazel pads, or a topical prescription cream as recommended by your doctor.

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