• Cassandra Wasson
  • Albert Kelly
  • David Ninan
  • Quy Tran


This chapter outlines the effects pregnancy has on the gastrointestinal system. It addresses the changes in lower esophageal sphincter tone, intragastric pressure, gastric volume and pH, and GERD.


Lower esophageal sphincter Intragastric pressure GERD Gastric pH Gastric volume 
  1. 1.
    Pregnancy compromises the integrity of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), alters the anatomic relationship of the esophagus to the diaphragm and stomach, and raises intragastric pressure
    1. (a)

      Stomach is displaced upward toward the left side of the diaphragm

    2. (b)

      Decreased LES tone is likely due to smooth muscle relaxation properties of progesterone

    3. (c)

      Changes return to pre-pregnancy levels by 48 h post-partum

  2. 2.
    High rate of GERD during pregnancy. Risk factors include gestational age, GERD prior to pregnancy, and multiparity
    1. (a)

      Maternal age has an inverse correlation

  3. 3.

    Gastric acid pH and volume is unchanged in pregnancy

  4. 4.
    Rate of gastric emptying is unchanged during pregnancy, but significantly prolonged during labor
    1. (a)

      Esophageal peristalsis and intestinal transit are slowed


Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cassandra Wasson
    • 1
  • Albert Kelly
    • 1
  • David Ninan
    • 2
  • Quy Tran
    • 3
  1. 1.Riverside University Health System - Medical CenterMoreno ValleyUSA
  2. 2.Riverside University Health System - Medical CenterLoma LindaUSA
  3. 3.Harbor–UCLA Medical CenterTorranceUSA

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