Pregnancy is, generally, not easy on the stomach. There’s reflux, nausea, and heartburn. So, if you’ve already been suffering from similar symptoms due to a stomach ulcer, you may feel concerned that things are about to get a whole lot worse now you’re pregnant.
The good news is you have nothing to worry about. Research shows that pregnant women experience fewer ulcer-related symptoms, according to ulcerresourcecenter.com, so if you have a pre-existing issue, you may find that you suffer less while your baby is on board. More good news is that you’re also less likely to develop an ulcer during this time.
But if you suspect that your symptoms aren’t normal, it’s probably best to consult your doctor. Look out for the following:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weight loss
- Dark stools (due to bleeding in the stomach)
- Severe pain in your upper stomach
You may just be one of those unlucky ladies whose pregnancy hormones are playing havoc with an ordinarily well-behaved digestive system. However, you may be at risk of developing an ulcer if the lining of your stomach has deteriorated in certain areas. This is usually caused by excessive secretion of stomach acid, or because you have too much helicobacter pylori bacteria.
The only way to determine if your complaints are due to the development of an ulcer is through a fairly invasive procedure called an esophagagastruduodenoscopy – but your doctor is unlikely to recommend this unless your symptoms are especially severe.
Your best option to control those nasty sensations is by modifying your diet. You should cut down on acidic foods like tomatoes and citrus fruits. Chocolate and fatty foods are also on the no-go list, as is milk, as it stimulates acid production.
Medication may help, but ask your doctor about what’s allowed and what’s not while you are pregnant. If you’re already on treatment for an existing ulcer, you can probably continue with it – most are safe during pregnancy. Antacids are also allowed, but watch out for preparations containing bicarbonate, which may harm your growing baby.
Some of these tricks, recommended by ulcerresourcecenter.com, also may help:
- Eat smaller meals, more regularly. This prevents your stomach from being empty, which seems to lessen the severity of stomach ulcer symptoms. On the other hand, don’t overeat, because this stimulates the production of stomach acid.
- Increase your fibre intake. This strengthens the stomach’s protective coating.
- Try enteric-coated garlic supplements, especially if your ulcer is related to helicobacter pylori.
- You may find cabbage juice soothing.
In her 16 years as journalist, Lisa Witepski’s work has appeared in most of South Africa’s leading publications, including the Mail & Guardian, Sunday Times, Entrepreneur and Financial Mail. She has written for a number of women’s magazines, including Living & Loving, Essentials and many others, across topics from lifestyle to travel, wellness, business and finance. She is a former acting Johannesburg Bureau Chief for Cosmopolitan, and former Features Editor at Travel News Weekly, but, above all, a besotted mom to Leya and Jessica. Lisa blogs at whydoialwayscravecake.blogspot.com and lisa.witepski.blogspot.com, and tweets at @LisaWitepski.