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How Pregnancy Changes Your Body

Digestive Tract

What's going on: Your stomach is roiling, all right, but it's not just from morning sickness. Heartburn, indigestion, and constipation are common side effects of a digestive slowdown. The likely culprit? Progesterone. "It makes the gut sluggish, so your stomach takes longer to empty and food moves through your intestines more slowly," says John Jennings, M.D., chairman of obstetrics at Texas Tech Health Sciences Center in Amarillo. This will probably bother you in the form of acid regurgitation, as well as increased gas and uncomfortable constipation. Annoying, yes -- but this may serve an important purpose: The longer food stays in your system, the more nutrients are absorbed and delivered to your baby.

What to do about it: To head off heartburn, avoid fatty, acidic, and spicy fare and don't lie down right after meals (prop yourself up with pillows when you do hit the sack). If you're already feeling the burn, have a few spoonfuls of yogurt, chew gum, or crunch a calcium-based antacid to neutralize stomach acid and wash it back where it belongs. To combat indigestion, eat six small meals a day rather than three big ones. To keep things moving on the other end, bulk up on fiber, drink plenty of water, and get regular exercise.

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