Gastritis can affect anyone, including pregnant women. Though it is usually not dangerous, you may worry that it will affect or hurt your baby during pregnancy. What helps with gastritis while pregnant? Fortunately, there are effective ways to help cope with it. With appropriate lifestyle measures or (if necessary) medications, there should be nothing to worry.
Does gastritis affect baby during pregnancy?
Gastritis is a term that specifically refers to inflammation of the stomach lining. It is usually linked to some of the following factors /conditions:
- Excessive use of alcohol.
- Bacterial infection, the most common one is H. pylori infection.
- Regularly using anti-inflammatory drugs that can hurt the stomach lining, such as NSAIDs.
- Stressful events like after major surgery, severe injury, or stress caused by critical illness.
- And in very rare cases, the inflammation may be caused by the abnormality of body immune system. For example autoimmune gastritis, when the immune system mistakenly attacks its own healthy cells in the stomach.
So, is gastritis harmful in pregnancy? In general, the disease is manageable and will not pose serious health risks. Also, it has nothing to do with your uterus, where your baby grows during pregnancy. That’s why it usually doesn’t affect your baby development.
Many cases of gastritis improve with a few lifestyle measures. So it’s not always necessary to see a doctor to cope with. You can treat it yourself if it’s mild or if it’s not linked to particular health condition such as bacterial infection and overactive autoimmune reaction.
Nevertheless, pregnancy is one of the most crucial phases for women’s life. Although gastritis is usually mild and doesn’t hurt mother & baby during pregnancy, it’s important to make sure that the disease doesn’t turn into serious and causes dangerous complications such as;
- Stomach ulcer, an open sore in the stomach lining.
- Internal, stomach bleeding.
- And in rare cases, some types of chronic gastritis may have a role to increase the risk of stomach cancer, especially in individuals with extensive thinning of the stomach lining.
See your doctor without delay if the disease doesn’t improve with lifestyle measures or if it gets worse (you have severe gastritis symptoms)!
What helps with gastritis while pregnant?
A few adjustments in your diet and other lifestyle measures can help heal the inflammation of your stomach lining more quickly. Here are pieces of helpful information to remember.
Pregnancy with gastritis: What to eat?
Eating for two is more challenging. The good news, what to eat for gastritis is also good when you’re pregnant.
What foods to avoid for gastritis vary! But in most cases these include fatty, acidic, spicy, and processed foods, which some are also bad for your pregnancy. It may also be helpful to avoid common culprits that provoke upset stomach — such as milk chocolates and dairy products — for a while until the inflammation heals completely. See more about what to avoid for diet with gastritis in here and here!
Also, avoid alcohol! It might be still OK to only drink very small amounts a week. But if you have gastritis, it’s much better to eliminate alcohol from your diet. Alcohol can hurt the lining of your stomach, causing your gastritis take longer to heal. It’s bad for pregnancy, too — because the liver of your baby is still very weak to process your dietary alcohol. Excessive use of alcohol may seriously threaten you and impair your baby’s development during pregnancy.
How about caffeine? Some people with gastritis find that caffeine worsens their gastritis symptoms such as feeling of fullness, nausea, and abdominal pain. It may also be bad for pregnancy, especially if you consume it excessively. Too much caffeine may cause increased risk of some pregnancy complications, low birth weight and miscarriage for examples.
You may not need to completely eliminate caffeine from your diet when pregnant. Just make sure to use it in moderation, not more than 200 mg per day – according to recommendation of most health authorities. But if caffeine does worsen your nausea or make your gastritis pain worse, avoid it!
Focus on balanced and nutritious diet for your healthy pregnancy. This involves the right balance of essential nutrients (proteins, vitamins, minerals, fibers, and carbohydrates). Also, eat a wide variety of healthy foods – don’t only rely on a specific food, because each food has unique properties!
- To help ease nausea, regularly eat 4-5 smaller meals throughout the day instead of 2-3 large meals. This can also help soothe heartburn, which is common during pregnancy.
- Don’t lie down right away after you eat. Wait at least 2-3 hours to allow your digestion complete before lying down. Also, avoid late-night snacks!
- Drink enough water a day to keep hydrated and keep things moving well through the digestive system. This is also helpful to reduce feeling of fullness, another common discomfort caused by gastritis.
As mentioned earlier, frequent use of NSAIDs can factor into gastritis. Continue using these pain relievers may also make the disease get worse or take longer to heal. Therefore, (if possible) avoid them!
Furthermore, excessive use of NSAIDs might increase the risk of miscarriage, pulmonary hypertension in newborns, or other pregnancy complications. Consider alternative, natural pain relievers for pain or fever during pregnancy. But if you do need to use them, use at lowest dose possible. Talk with your doctor more guidance!
It’s well known that stress can also affect you physically. In fact, many studies confirm that it can worsen many health conditions, including gastritis. It may weaken the body immune system, causing H. pylori infection harder to treat. It may also make your gastritis pain worse.
Unfortunately, being pregnant could be more stressful. For examples; difficulty to find comfortable position for sleep, frequent urination at night, and other physical discomforts caused by pregnancy such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and backache — all these discomforts will increase your stress level.
Uncontrolled, excessive stress during pregnancy is not only bad for the prognosis of your gastritis, but also may ruin you and your baby. So it can be more than just an inconvenience and therefore you need to manage it as well! The good news, there are plenty of ways to cope with it. Here are a few examples:
- Don’t feel ‘stressed out about stress. It’s normal to have elevated levels of stress as your baby grows and your hormones fluctuate during pregnancy! But always remember that your stress is manageable, even though it’s often inevitable! Find out what’s triggering your stress and then take any preventive steps you can to reduce or control it!
- Schedule time to do things that can help you relax such as meditation, relaxation exercise (deep breathing), yoga, massage therapy, or even listening music /reading a book that you like will help a lot for your stress relief.
- Be careful to respond your stress! Avoid negative, counterproductive responses to stress that can worsen the problem, such as; skipping meals or eating more junk foods, withdrawing from people, and using alcohol!
- And always take good care of yourself by eating right, having enough rest, and doing moderate exercise regularly.
Avoid tobacco smoke!
Tobacco smoke, including from secondhand smoke, can provoke the inflammation of your stomach lining. Therefore, it can inhibit your healing process. Also, it’s very dangerous for your pregnancy – even experts say that there is NO allowed, safe ‘level’ of cigarette smoking during pregnancy.
The nicotine and other harmful substances in tobacco smoke that you inhale can enter into the circulation (bloodstream) and go directly to the fetus. So, if your overall health (including gastritis) is still not enough to make you stop smoking, then your pregnancy (especially your baby health) should be!
Gastritis medications (if appropriate)
Sometimes the use of medical intervention for gastritis during pregnancy is inevitable. For examples, if you have severe gastritis or if the disease is caused by bacterial infection.
Unfortunately, treating the disease could be tricky, because some gastritis medications (such as antibiotics and acid suppressing medications) also carry potential risks for pregnancy. But if the disease is left untreated, it may persist or take longer to heal, which could be more risky for you and your baby health.
The good news, there are some types of antibiotics that can be used safely during pregnancy. The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have released classes of lowest and highest risky medications for pregnancy. The classes are A, B, C, D, and X. Drugs within class A are relatively safer for use in pregnancy, whereas drugs within class X are highest risky medications for pregnant women. Improper use of antibiotics, especially antibiotics defined within class X, might increase the risk of birth defect.
Acid suppressing medications might also cause increased risk of pregnancy complications, though they’re generally safe for most pregnant women. A systematic review of study found that they might increase the risk of asthma in children. The study found that the risk of asthma in children increased by about 57 % when mother took H2 blockers during pregnancy, and by about 34 % with proton pump inhibitors. “Although this study is not ‘final’ yet (further studies are required), use anti-suppressing medications carefully when pregnant,” said Dr. Huahao Shen, a senior author and professor at the Zhejiang University School of Medicine in Hangzhou, China.
Furthermore, safety depends on other factors such as; when you take the medicine during pregnancy, dosage, and how long you take it.