WEEK 21 – EASTER WEEKEND & TREATING PREGNANCY REFLUX
Weekly Baby News
Baby size: Approx. 23cm head to toe and can be around 360g. Eyebrows are fully developed and if your baby is going to have hair it will be covering the scalp. Lungs are starting to develop surfactant, a substance that helps the lungs to expand with each breath. You may start to identify a pattern to bub’s movements and regular times of the day he/she is more active.
With bub being more active you certainly can be feeling more active too. There is still plenty of room for your baby to move around in the womb before it becomes a tight fit and uncomfortable in the later 3rd Trimester, so now is the time to thrive, get things done and enjoy pregnancy.
Right!! Lets get to the bottom of one of the most common symptoms in pregnancy, which is commonly poorly managed. This is also a symptom that I treat regularly in my clinic with all types not just the pregnant. Here I explain heartburn/ reflux and tips you can do at home to combat this irritating issue.
Heartburn/ Reflux: these can be explained as the same thing or different depending on the individual. It is the result of stomach acid coming up the oesophagus causing a burning pain in the throat and/or chest area. Other symptoms include difficulty swallowing, a dry cough, drywretching, or asthma symptoms. Frequently brought on with pregnancy however other factors are obesity, poor digestive health, over-eating, smoking, alcohol, certain foods, and medications. Normally the function that is not performing correctly is the lower oesophageal sphincter, located just before the entrance to the stomach. It is when this band doesn’t close tightly that stomach acid or digestive material can rise and irritate the oesophagus.
There are many reasons that contribute to why this sphincter does not close properly. However for the purpose of this blog our focus is during pregnancy. As the baby grows it increases pressure in the abdomen can cause difficulty in the stomach contents to continue through to the intestines resulting in these contents coming back up the oesophagus. Plus changes in digestive function that slows during pregnancy, thus affecting the levels of acids available to breakdown the food. You may be thinking you have too much acid in your stomach but it is more common to have inadequate acids, therefore reduced ability to breakdown foods in the stomach. Also not enough acid to flick-the-switch and tell your lower oesophageal sphincter to close correctly, both resulting in unwanted foods and acids irritating the oesophagus. Good times right??!!
Foods to Avoid: common foods known to trigger reflux are: tomatoes, peppermint, spearmint, spices/curries, dairy, fruit, coffee and even our beloved chocolate. Saying this some people find relief by consuming milk, yoghurt or peppermint tea.
Tips to reduce instance of Reflux and tips how to treat if you can’t prevent:
Don’t eat fruit of an afternoon, as doing so can irritate reflux of a evening when you lay down
Reduce consumption of process, refined and high sugar foods. Other irritating foods may be fatty foods, citrus freshly squeezed juices, carbonated beverages and chewing gum. Gum tricks your digestive system and affects the regular functioning when you do actually eat foods.
Reduce raw foods, as they take more effort by the digestive system to breakdown. Instead opting for steamed, roasted, slow-cooked meals
Be mindful of portion size. Smaller more frequent portions will reduce the work the stomach has to endure, while it will also help to stabilise energy levels throughout your day. Especially reduce your dinner size, it doesn’t have as long to digest before spending the next 8-10 hours horizontal (we all know how important quality sleep is during pregnancy).
Experiment with herbal teas to assist, for example chamomile, ginger, oolong, barberry, licorice and lemon tea have all been shown to reduce reflux symptoms. Everyone is individual with these tea choices and what works so keep trying different teas
Apple Cider Vinegar before meals. Simple 5-10mls before meals to enhance the digestion of your meals (this one makes a huge difference for me).
Reduce stress and certainly avoid eating when in your flight/fight response (sympathetic nervous system state) as this will reduce the ability to digest food. Therefore ensure you take the time to eat in a peaceful state and not on the run. Mindful eating during pregnancy has endless benefits.
Elevate you pillow at night, your head only needs to be 15cm higher than your stomach to reduce night-time heartburn
Probiotics, the benefits are endless through pregnancy, however in this instance the probiotics help regulate digestion and assist correct breakdown of foods. The main strain involved here is the bifidobacteria.
Eliminate any tight clothing around the abdomen and bra line region. Just another reason in pregnancy to go bra free and wear your comfy clothes, yay!
And lastly my favourite secret and completely safe product to grab from your chemist that won’tupset and destroy your digestive systems natural functioning = Schuessler Tissue Salts Acid Neutraliser (Nat Phos). These are homeopathic and unlike conventional antacids, won’t harm your digestive process and ability to absorb nutrients. While you may feel you want no acid inyour body at all, we still need it to be able to break foods down and absorb the good nutrients. If we use strong antacid products we are putting more strain on our stomachs and more work for our digestion, and you also can then become reliant on these products. The Tissue salts are a safe and easy way to combat symptoms that can’t be prevented.
If symptoms continue speak to you naturopath as they can assess the bigger picture of yourdigestion as well as analyse your diet to identify the cause and provide natural treatment.
I’ve had another check in with my midwife and obstetrician (midwife was actually last week). Thankfully this time I wasn’t tired and was able to feel that I gained more rapport with my obst. These appointments were both so helpful after the scan issue in week 18 and very reassuring that I had nothing to worry about. We also went through the ultrasound report and focused on all the positive things like healthy weight, length, and movement. We got to also listen to the baby’s heart with the Doppler, that we could hear straight away and the strong blood flow to bub, I took this as a good healthy sign that everything is ok. My stress around the health of bub has now completely dropped and I’m feeling confident and happy about my pregnancy again.
My parents came to visit this week for Easter, which was nice to catch up face to face. I do talk to my family regularly through the week over the phone, however it still is nice to connect and see each other. It was a great weekend for us all to do minimal rather than the normal rushing around trying to do 1000 things in a couple of days. It helped that it was Easter and shops were closed also to prevent us being able to work through the to-do list, you may have guessed I do get my achieving, striving, hardworking self from my parents, which I am very grateful for however as mentioned in past blogs it can at times get in the way of enjoying moments in life also, so hence a quiet weekend with my parents are rare and blissful. Time pottering with parents are memorable moments, picking out pots for plants, cooking meals together, taking Miss Meeka to the beach and making Dad healthy hot cross buns are all things that I certainly was needing as no way could I have handled another busy weekend. Over the 4 days we didn’t achieve much in the way of renovations or organising as we normally would however both Sheeds and I definitely needed the down time. We watched a whole season of Sons of Anarchy over the long weekend. This would usually eat away at me and I’d resent myself for wasting time when I could have been doing something productive, however this whole new non-striving aspect of my life is quite nourishing, whilst still allowing time and space to get things done and with more enjoyment, just minus the pressure.
This week we feel I’m really starting to show. I can no longer suck in my tummy, not that I was all the time I was more so doing as a way to measure tummy progress haha. And more people are commenting, thankfully that I am also glowing pregnant! Must be that beach/ sun session last weekend contributing. I now have to dig a little hole in the sand to lie on my tummy at the beach hehe, so funny but highly convenient that I can do that at the beach. Of a nighttime I now only lay on my side or on my back with some pillow support, our bed is feeling smaller, still a little early to bring the body pillow into the bed I think. Plus I’m not sure it will fit with Sheeds being 6.4ft our queen bed is already limited in size. Good thing we never let Meeka sleep on the bed as there certainly would be no room with a Great Dane as well haha.
Speaking of sleeping arrangements, I decided on a bassinet, which goes along side the bed that you can align with your mattress and with the side down. So it is co-sleeping without the bub being right in bed with you. This to me makes sense as there is less chance of rolling onto the baby, also makes it a easier transition for baby to the cot, whilst still easy for me to pull the bub into bed to breast fed without having to lift and transport from their bassinet on the other side of the room. The bassinet I chose also has lockable wheels so is easy to push around the house (with all sides up of course) if need be when bub is napping through the day.
Lesson from this week = adequate rest makes pregnancy life easier!
Yours in Pregnancy Health
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