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Pregnant with heartburn seeks same

Heartburn (indigestion / acid reflux / dyspepsia) affects a significant number of the population, even more so during pregnancy. Symptoms usually emerge during the second and third trimesters, but can occur at any stage. Oh, the joys!

Heartburn in pregnancy can be mediated by both hormonal and physical changes.

Hormonal changes: natural increases in hormones such as progesterone promote the relaxation of smooth muscles around the uterus, which is important as your baby grows. However, it can also affect smooth muscles elsewhere in the body, such as the lower oesophageal sphincter (the valve separating the stomach from the oesophagus). This laxity allows gastric acid to escape out of the stomach and into the oesophagus, leading to a burning sensation in the chest and throat. It can also slow the rythmic contractions of the stomach, contributing to sluggish digestion.

Physical changes: as pregnancy progresses, your baby starts taking up more and more room in your abdomen, which places strain on the surrounding organs. This also creates less space in your stomach as your diaphragm is pushed upwards, and often contributes to the reflux of gastric acid and partially digested food.

Pregnancy anatomy

See how much room that kid’s taking up!

Happily, there are a number of things you can do for heartburn, here are my top five:

  • Small meals – don’t gorge on large amounts of food in one sitting (no matter how delicious!) and try to slow down while you’re eating. This will help your stomach break down your meal, improving digestion generally and preventing reflux.
  • Sip your drinks, even more so between meals – try not to guzzle large amounts of water or herbal tea in one sitting. Instead, sip on these regularly throughout the day to will help you avoid ‘flooding’ your stomach. Also try to avoid drinking while you’re eating a meal, as this can dilute gastric acid, which will slow down your digestion further.
  • Stay upright – particularly after you’ve just eaten. I know I’m sometimes guilty of lying down almost directly after dinner, particularly in this later stage of pregnancy when I feel tired and preferentially horizontal by evening. However, if you are experiencing heartburn, this is not a good idea as gravity is going to work against you and encourage the backflow of gastric acid. Stay upright, or if you must lie down, do so with your back propped up by several pillows.
  • Recognise (and avoid) foods that trigger heartburn – for some women this will be spicy food, for others chocolate or meat-heavy meals. Not everyone is the same and as such you do not need to avoid a long list of potential triggers. However, be aware of when you react most and aim to avoid those foods as much as possible.
  • Herbal medicines – there are a number herbs that can help significantly with heartburn and are fine to use in pregnancy. As such, your naturopath or herbalist may give you liquid or tablet formulation to improve your symptoms. Alongside this, the regular consumption of herbal teas can and should be included, particularly after a meal; my picks include Peppermint, Ginger, Chamomile and Nettle.

Herbal teaAnother excellent herb for heartburn, and digestion more generally, is Slippery elm. This is a powder than can be taken in a glass of water, or made into easy-as lozenges. Slippery elm lozenges take no time to make at home and travel very well – I will share the recipe with you in my next post so you can make your own.

Have you experienced pregnancy heartburn? What’s worked best for you?

 

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The importance of fluid movement

The benefits of moving your body regularly, every day if possible, cannot be overstated. Regular exercise keeps your physical body healthy, while also benefiting your mental and emotional wellbeing. When you’re busy, stressed or engaged in heavy mental activity, exercise is one of the best ways to stay balanced.

The type of exercise you choose is also important. I’ve just written a piece for Mantra Mats about the benefits of including fluid, resistance-based movements into your routine.

Read the full article here.

yoga fluid movement

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ll know that I often share snippets of my own yoga practice. I find it incredibly beneficial, particularly now that I’m pregnant.

How about you? A fan of fluid movement? Or find it challenging?

Gratitude Life Classes

Being grateful for the blessings we receive – both small and large – is an excellent practice to cultivate. It’s something I have benefited from greatly… even though, to be honest, grace and gratitude don’t always come easily to me. In fact, left to my own devices, I am a world class complainer; I can be floored by frustrations and mired in challenges – personal and professional – I don’t enjoy. What to say? I’m human.

So, I keep at it. Life goes on.

A few weeks ago I went to a Gratitude workshop, one that I’d heard about through several different people and thought sounded right up my alley. And? It was excellent! Surprisingly so. The thing is, I have done many of these sorts of workshops and classes over the years… some incredible and some, weeeell, some not suited to my personality. However, this was such a good day, and one from which I drew so much, that I wanted to share it with you.*

gratitude - piglet

image via pinterest

Toni Powell runs these classes and what an excellent woman she is! Toni spent the day taking us through stories from her life, including practical tales of finding and practicing gratitude, often in incredibly challenging situations. She also discussed the science of happiness and gave us a bundle of tricks for finding more of this in each day. There were some exercises we had to do, some on our own and some with others, but nothing squirmy. It certainly helped that everyone there was really lovely and I enjoyed some great chats.

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One exercise required us to take a few minutes to find and photograph something small or overlooked that we were grateful for. I went into this with my eyes-rolling, courtesy of in-built cynicism. Anyway, once I got over that, there were a heap of things I could have snapped!

What I ended up photographing where my shoes, my broken old Cons. I’ve had these for years and have worn them everywhere, everywhere. As a result, they are completely trashed. I still wear them all the time, but I often feel embarrassed by my shitty shoes and make fun of myself for having such broken shodding. I don’t stop wearing them though.  Nor have I bought a new pair… due in part to my strong dislike of shopping and habit of rarely getting new things. Instead, I wear and complain about them… even though I obviously love them, find them incredibly comfortable and have worn them all over the world for years and years now.

These well-worn and literally down-trodden shoes deserve a moment of appreciation.

gratitude - broken shoes

My broken, but beloved, shoes that have carried me everywhere for years.

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I think I enjoyed the workshop so much because of how honest and real Toni was. She didn’t sugarcoat her stories. Her presentation didn’t spruik the unachievable goal of seeing only positive in every situation. Instead,  it focused on seeing beauty and worth in the small and ordinary; allowing for the challenges that invariably come with life, and rolling with them. This was much more something I could relate to.

So. It was a day of listening, interacting, feeling inspired and … taking photos of my shoes. Over the next couple of months there are more of these workshops being run up and down the East coast – you can see Toni’s site to find out more about her and the Gratitude Lifeclasses. Highly recommended!

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I follow all sorts of blogs, including those of Toni’s daughters Georgia and Hailey – honestly, I’m not a stalker, they just share such awesome work! Anyway, not only are their images gorgeous, they also provide wonderful examples of finding gems in the every day. Certainly worth a look, if you haven’t come across them already.

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* This is not a sponsored post, not by half. I’m just sharing my genuinely positive experience, in case it’s something you’re interested in too.

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