Digestive System Disorders

Expert reports about Digestive System Disorders


INFORMATION FOR WOMEN WHO HAVE HEARTBURN DURING PREGNANCY OR BREASTFEEDING

 

What is heartburn during pregnancy?

Heartburn is a colloquial term for what doctors call gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which contents from the stomach move backward into the esophagus. This leads you to feel a burning sensation in the chest or throat, so it actually has nothing to do with the heart. Special cells within the lining of the stomach, called parietal cells, secrete hydrochloric acid, which helps in the digestion of food, so the problem is not that the stomach makes acid, but that the acid comes up. This can happen to anybody, but pregnant women are particularly prone to GERD, because of a combination of weight gain and the growing womb, both of which cause pressure increase on the stomach, and also because the lower esophageal sphincter (LES, a ring-shaped muscle that normally keeps stomach contents from entering the esophagus) tends to relax in pregnancy.


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