7 Ways to Prevent Pregnancy Digestive Problems

Posted In:

Proper nutrition during pregnancy does more than give baby a head start on a healthy life. It also helps prevent or control the digestive problems that affect many mothers-to-be.

You are three weeks into your third trimester, and for the first time in your pregnancy, you’re facing something that was rarely an issue before you became an expectant mother: heartburn. You are not alone. It is common for pregnant women to experience this condition—a burning sensation in the chest that occurs when stomach acid moves up the esophagus—especially during the final trimester.

How can you fight heartburn and other digestive problems during pregnancy? Healthy food choices and a few simple changes to your everyday routine can help you gain the upper hand. Consider these tips:

  • Break out of the three-meals-a-day box. Think beyond breakfast, lunch and dinner and transition to a daily schedule that includes five to six healthy mini meals. Frequent food breaks in smaller amounts lower your risk of nausea and heartburn.
  • Fill up on fiber. Nearly half of expectant mothers experience constipation, according to the American Pregnancy Association. A plant- and whole grain-filled diet helps.
  • Focus on quality, not quantity. Don’t think of eating for two as a mandate to increase your caloric intake. Instead, let it be a reminder that the nutritional decisions you make affect not just you, but your baby, as well. With that in mind, be sure you’re making choices that are good for both of you. These include eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy proteins, such as yogurt, nuts and poultry. Avoid fried, fatty foods, which have little upside—they don’t offer much nutritional value and they can trigger heartburn.
  • Keep moving to get digestion going. Pregnancy is no time to shelve your active lifestyle. Low-impact exercise, such as swimming and walking, benefits you and your baby in a variety of ways, one of which is preventing constipation.
  • Let water work its wonders. Staying hydrated helps prevent constipation and nausea. Aim to drink at least 10 cups of water daily, preferably between meals to help avoid heartburn.
  • Mind how you sit and stand. Slumping, slouching and reclining, especially after eating, can open the door to heartburn. Maintain good posture as often as possible.
  • Use refrigerator-based remedies. Heartburn-relieving antacids may be high in sodium. See if yogurt or milk turns down the heat before you try over-the-counter medications.

Have you picked a pediatrician? Meet Alan Brown, M.D., and Bird Gilmartin, M.D., board-certified Pediatricians in Evanston who provide super care for your super kid

Drs. Brown and Gilmartin are members of the medical staff at Evanston Regional Hospital.