Figure 5-3. Postural changes during pregnancy.
5-10. CHANGES OF THE GASTROINTESTINAL SYSTEM DURING PREGNANCY
a. As mentioned in paragraph 5-1, as the pregnancy progresses, the uterus
enlarges. It rises up and out of the pelvic cavity. This action displaces the stomach,
intestines, and other adjacent organs.
b. Peristalsis is slowed because of the production of the hormone progesterone,
which decreases tone and mobility of smooth muscles. This slowing enhances the
absorption of nutrients and slows the rate of secretion of hydrochloric acid and pepsin.
Flare-up of peptic ulcers is uncommon in pregnancy. Slow emptying may increase
nausea and heartburn (pyrosis). Relaxation of the cardiac sphincter may increase
regurgitation and chance for heartburn. Movement through the large intestines is also
slowed due to an increase in water consumption from this area. This increases the
chance for constipation.
c. Nursing implications.
(1) If the mother has difficulty with nausea and/or heartburn, advise her to
eat small, frequent meals.
(2) The patient should eat a well- balanced diet high in protein, iron, and
calcium for fetal growth; high fiber and fluids to prevent constipation.
(3) The mother should not lie flat for 1 to 2 hours after eating because this
may cause heartburn and/or regurgitation.