January 7, 2008

Heartburn and Charlie Horses

I am 33 and 1/2 weeks pregnant. About 4 days ago I started getting heartburn. I have never had heartburn in my life. I could easily lived the rest of my life without having heartburn again but I don't think that is going to happen. Does anyone have any natural tips or cures on reliefing heartburn?

A few weeks ago I started getting Charlie Horse's again. It was the worse Charlie horse I have ever gotten in my life. The last time I got Charlie Horses was when I was pregnant with Adriana. I could have gone for the rest of my likfe without another Charlie Horse but then came the worse Charlie Horse you could ever imagine. The best advice I have recieved on reliefing charlie horses is drink more milk. I had alot more charlie horses while pregnant with Adriana. When I forget to drink my milk I suffer.

Life during pregnancy is quite interesting. Hormones are crazy and so life goes crazy also.

Here are some articles on pregnancy heartburn and cramps. Maybe they will be helpful to some of you.

What causes heartburn in pregnancy?

Heartburn, indigestion and acid reflux all commonly occur in late pregnancy. These symptoms are due to the hormone, progesterone, which relaxes the valve at the top of your stomach, causing a small amount of stomach acid, sometimes with partially digested food, to surge upwards into your oesophagus (gullet). Sometimes sickness in early pregnancy can be worsened by heartburn, or indigestion can make you feel sick. If you are expecting more than one baby or your baby is very large this will make your heartburn worse. If your baby is in a breech position (bottom first) in late pregnancy, his head will press up under your diaphragm and may trigger heartburn. Eating certain foods and smoking will also make things worse.

How can I prevent it?

Eating small meals more frequently will prevent your stomach becoming overfull and pushing up under your diaphragm. Try to eat your main meal of the day at lunchtime if at all possible and eat your evening meal early in the evening, so that your body has time to digest it before you go to bed. Avoid spicy, rich, fatty and fried foods and anything else which triggers the symptoms. Sugar, tea, coffee and certain food additives may also exacerbate heartburn. Lying down to relax after a meal is likely to cause regurgitation, so it is a good idea to sit upright for a while; you may also find you have to sleep propped up on two or three pillows at night in later pregnancy if the problem gets worse. Do not drink liquids with your food as this causes your digestive juices to become diluted and therefore less effective, but do drink between meals. Herbal teas such as peppermint will help digestion. Avoid drinking large quantities of other teas reputed to aid digestion, such as fennel, in pregnancy.

Self-help suggestions

Eating raw garlic every day, or taking a good quality garlic capsule can relieve the intensity of your symptoms. Make sure you purchase a garlic capsule which is labelled as being rich in allicin, the active ingredient (ask your midwife before taking supplements). Herbal remedies Ginger or chamomile tea can be useful, as can dandelion tea, but you should drink the latter with caution, particularly if you have high blood sugar or if you are taking tablets for high blood pressure. This is because dandelion can, in large doses, interfere with blood sugar levels, or it may affect the efficiency of medications for hypertension. The herbal remedy, slippery elm, is considered safe in pregnancy and can also help relieve heartburn.

What causes cramp in pregnancy?

Cramps are a form of muscle contraction which are usually felt in your legs or feet. Although we do not really understand why pregnant women suffer from cramp, it is thought that the legs become very tired from carrying around the extra weight of pregnancy, especially in the last trimester. This weight puts added pressure on the veins in your legs and lower body and you develop congestion in the pelvic area, so your circulation is not as efficient as normal. Another theory is that, because your body is working so hard, it can become deficient in levels of essential nutrients, including magnesium, calcium and vitamin C, or levels of phosphorus are too high. Being inactive, putting on too much weight or expecting more than one baby are factors which are likely to make leg cramps worse. They can be particularly troublesome during the night, when the sudden pain in your calf or foot can wake you up. Sometimes, you may initially experience cramp, but the discomfort in your legs then changes to a restless, jittery, "electric shock" type of sensation. All of these feelings are normal even though they are uncomfortable. If , however, the calf pain persists and becomes continuous, particularly if your leg is red and hot to the touch, consult your doctor or midwife immediately to ensure you are not developing a blood clot.

How can I prevent or treat cramps?

These preventative tips are also useful for treating cramp. Stay as active as you can during pregnancy. Walking, swimming, yoga or other gentle exercise may help to prevent cramps from becoming too severe. Walking the dog, taking your other children to the park or just wandering around the shops will all help you to get some gentle exercise. Remember to stop for a rest if you need it. Pay attention to your diet, incorporating foods which are high in magnesium, calcium and vitamin C, as these may prevent cramps and other symptoms of pregnancy. Calcium is found in dairy produce, green leafy vegetables, sunflower seeds, salmon and dried beans and pulses. Magnesium can be found in dates and figs, sweetcorn, green vegetables and apples. Vitamin C-rich foods include citrus fruits such as oranges, clementines and grapefruit, watercress, leafy greens, potatoes and tomatoes. There is some evidence to suggest that a vegetarian diet, or one in which vegetables, fruit and salad feature predominantly, may reduce the frequency and severity of leg cramps in late pregnancy. A good pregnancy multivitamin and mineral supplement can be useful, but check with your midwife before taking supplements. Excessive amounts of salt added to your food will encourage fluid retention. To prevent phosphorus rising beyond normal levels, cut down on red or processed meat, fast foods and soda water.

Self-help suggestions

Exercises and stretching Avoid sitting or standing for prolonged periods of time and try never to sit with your legs crossed, which reduces circulation in your legs. Stretch your calf muscles several times a day, by going up on tiptoe and then down again. This is also a good exercise to try before you go to bed. If you get a cramp, straighten your leg from the heel, gently flexing your "toes towards your nose". This can be uncomfortable but will ease the spasm and help the pain to go away. Make sure you do not flex your toes downwards, which will make cramp worse. While you are watching television or having dinner in the evening, circle your ankles slowly in one direction, then in the other.


Rebecca Urban said...

You asked, "Does anyone have a natural remedy for heartburn/acid reflux?" YES! Eat a stalk of raw celery. It will relieve it instantly :-)

Adrianne said...

Thanks Rebecca, I'll try that. I should hae known you would have a solution.