We know for sure how delicate and hard pregnancy is for any woman. Aside from physical changes, getting emotional, or mood swings, they struggle a lot from so many things like heartburn during pregnancy. (Read more about Heartburn Symptoms).
Heartburn during pregnancy is quite a common thing. Ninety-nine percent, if not 100%, of pregnant women will experience heartburn. It could be either after meal or while still enjoying their food. In some worse cases, episodes of heartburn may happen after every meal.
And just in case you are wondering what heartburn is, let me help you. Heartburn is the uncomfortable burning pain we feel right behind our breast bone. Heartburn normally takes place after eating and could happen to anyone, men or women, but is more common to women during pregnancy.
Heartburn during pregnancy happens when acids produced during digestion reflux or creep back from your stomach into your esophagus. Stomach acids, as it is, bring the burning chest pain that you feel. For pregnant women, acid refluxes resulting to heartburn is brought by the changing hormonal levels in the body that can affect several digestive muscles and how a certain food is tolerated in the system. The changes in the hormone levels during pregnancy also cause the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a special circular muscle located in between the esophagus and stomach, to relax. When the LES relaxes, nothing prevents the stomach acid from creeping back or refluxing into your esophagus which will then cause heartburn. Heartburn is basically caused by acid reflux; though sometimes acid reflux can happen without resulting to heartburn.
Things to Do to Prevent Pregnancy Heartburn
Heartburn during pregnancy is just one of many discomforts that child bearing can bring. There is a very slim or even zero chance that a pregnant woman will be spared from heartburn. It is not something that pregnant women can escape from but it is something that can be controlled and prevented. Heartburn during pregnancy mostly happens during the 20th week when your bump is large enough to push your stomach to the diaphragm. This physical change can result to pushing and moving stomach content like acids back to your esophagus. With proper diet, eating habits, practical tips, natural home remedies, and pregnant heartburn medications, episodes of heartburn during pregnancy can be diminished and controlled, if not completely eliminated.
Diet and Eating Habits for Heartburn During Pregnancy
Women tend to be picky with what they eat during pregnancy. However, sometimes your choices of food might cause acid reflux and heartburn. So to help you out, here is a list containing 5 foods that causes heartburn:
- Citrus and Acidic Fruits. I know you crave for these foods most of the time but citrus fruits such as oranges like clementine, mandarin, or whatever variety it is, can cause acid reflux. Citrus are acidic fruits just like grapes and tomatoes. It doesn’t mean that you avoid citrus and acidic fruits completely. After all, these are good for you and your baby’s health. You can eat it in moderation. Or eat it with something that can counterbalance the acid. Example is tomatoes in a healthy sandwich rather than in green salad. Or maybe choosing low-acid natural orange juice than fresh oranges after a good meal.
- Caffeine. Mostly found in coffee and soda drinks, caffeine is not for pregnant women. It’s a no brainer. Caffeine is a heartburn trigger. Aside from that, it is bad for you because it is a stimulant and a diuretic that can increase heart rate and blood pressure. Also, whatever you eat, is what you feed to your baby. Your body might be able to take it but your baby is just too young for caffeine.
- Alcohol. Another no brainer. Alcohol is completely bad for you during pregnancy.
- Fatty and Spicy Foods. Consumption of fatty or fried foods is also one of the many heartburn causes. Consuming food with high-fat content affects the way your lower esophageal sphincter functions. This type of food can make your lower esophageal sphincter relax and cause acid reflux and then heartburn.
- Chocolates. I know how much many pregnant women love chocolates. Just like coffee and soda drinks, chocolates have caffeine that can trigger heartburn. If you can’t completely avoid it, make sure to eat less to reduce episodes of acid reflux and heartburn.
Heartburn during pregnancy is not only because of the foods that you eat but also on how you eat it. Here are some tips on proper eating habits that can help prevent heartburn:
- Avoid the types of foods listed above. Picking the right food to eat and how to eat it will definitely help you avoid acid reflux and heartburn.
- Practice eating several small meals each day. Eating in small portions several times a day gives your digestive system a good time to run properly than eating 3 big meals per day. Having 3 big meals a day makes your stomach do more and produce more acid to aid digestion.
- Eat slowly. Chew your food properly and don’t be in a hurry. Properly chewing your food aids your stomach in digesting it easily. Hence, no need to produce extra acid for digestion. Also, eating slowly gives your stomach enough time to accept, tolerate, and digest all the food you’re eating.
- Don’t eat right before bedtime. Eating should be done 2 to 3 hours before bedtime. This way, you will have enough time to digest the food before lying down. When lying down, your digestive system will get a hard time digesting the food which will likely result to heartburn.
- Have your drink before and after meals. As much as possible, avoid drinking while you are having your meal. When mixed with food, excessive water or liquid, ,can make you bloat fast and trigger acid reflux and heartburn.
Easy & Practical Tips for Heartburn During Pregnancy
Here are some easy and practical tips that can help you avoid heartburn during pregnancy.
- Avoid tight clothing. Loosen up. When you are having a heartburn, stomach acids creep up to your throat. The first thing you need to do is to loosen up whatever tight clothing you are wearing to avoid stomach acid from getting pushed upward.
- When lying, elevate from the waist up. During episodes of heartburn and when you’re lying down and can’t get up, pregnancy heartburn relief can be obtained by elevating your body from the waist up. This way, you can prevent stomach acids from refluxing into your esophagus.
- After a meal, sit or stand. After finishing your meal, do not lie down or do something that will make you bend down. These positions will make the food you eat go back to your esophagus. Instead, after a meal, go take a short leisurely walk or sit down and read a book.
- Watch your triggers. One of the best keys to avoiding heartburn is knowing what triggers it. You might want to list down the foods, medications, or things you do that cause your heartburn so you can avoid it in the future.
Home Remedies for Heartburn During Pregnancy
When pregnant, it is always good to go natural. This way, you can avoid risking you and your baby’s health. Heartburn during pregnancy will be given a solution using easy and quick natural home remedies. Here are some of the most common natural home remedies you can use:
- Banana or apple. These fruits, banana and apple, contain natural antacids that can help block acid reflux and avoid heartburn. If you want a healthy and natural heartburn relief, try eating one banana a day. Banana can combat acid reflux that causes heartburn. You can also try eating one apple few hours before going to bed and experience the comfort it can bring to your stomach and esophagus.
- Almonds. These nuts are not just delicious and tasty. Almonds have natural properties that can counterbalance acids in your stomach. Consuming a couple of almonds after every meal can reduce the chances of acid reflux and heartburn.
- Ginger tea. Homemade ginger tea is another thing you can do to ease and prevent heartburn. Ginger is not just an ordinary kitchen spice. It can prevent and cure various stomach issues such as acid reflux because of its gastro-protective effect. All you need to do is to slice 3 quarter-sized ginger into thin and small pieces and let boil in 2 cups of water for about 30 minutes. Cool it down to tolerable temperature and have a sip of your homemade ginger tea. Drinking this tea at least 20 minutes before a meal can prevent acid reflux and heartburn.
- Chamomile tea. Acid reflux which causes heartburn can be triggered by stress. A cup of chamomile tea before going to bed has a calming effect that can relieve stress and prevent acid reflux. Aside from that, chamomile tea can also help ease and lessen stomach inflammation and balances acidity levels in the stomach. Taking a cup of chamomile tea half an hour or an hour before bedtime can definitely get you a warm sleep and save you from acid reflux and heartburn.
- Aloe juice. Look for aloe juice for internal use. It has a soothing effect that can reduce inflammation and ward off acid reflux. All you need is a half cup of aloe juice before meals. Aloe juice are easy to find and are mostly available in supermarkets.
- Coconut water. Drinking coconut water can help counterbalance acids in the stomach.
- Fennel seeds. Fennel seeds have properties that can help neutralize stomach acids. In a cup of boiling water, add 2 teaspoon of fennel seeds. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Drink it with or without sugar.
- Baking soda. Baking soda has lots of uses at home; one of which is to relieve and prevent acid reflux that may cause heartburn. Because it is a base, sodium bicarbonate commonly known as baking soda, can counterbalance stomach acids. Half or one teaspoon of baking soda, when mixed with a glass of water, can do the trick. However, baking soda should not be used as a regular remedy by people having persistent acid reflux or heartburn as it is high in salt which could cause nausea and swelling. For occasional acid reflux and heartburn, baking soda is definitely a relief provider.
- Mustard. It might not be a favorite of many, but mustard can bring quick heartburn relief to everyone. Mustard is an alkalizing food and it has lots of minerals. It also has a weak type of acid from its vinegar content. These alkaline properties that mustard has can neutralize and counterbalance acids produced by the stomach during digestion. All it takes is a spoonful of mustard, and the acids creeping up from your stomach to your esophagus will be calmed down, warding off heartburn.
In as much as you want to stick with natural homemade remedies, sometimes, pregnancy heartburn can be so persistent that you may need to take meds. Though most of these medications are over-the-counter (OTC), it is a must to talk to your doctor first before taking any heartburn medication to make sure that it is safe for you and your baby. Here are the most common types of medications for heartburn during pregnancy.
Antacids. For many, antacids can provide instant heartburn relief by neutralizing stomach acids. Antacids are mostly used by people with occasional heartburn.They are not intended to heal an inflamed or damaged esophagus. So, for people with severe or persistent heartburn, antacids might not bring relief to you. If overused, side effects of antacids are constipation or diarrhea. Examples of these are:
H2 Antagonist. This type of medications work by blocking histamine’s action. Histamine is a chemical that encourages and promotes acid production within the stomach. As an outcome, production of acid decreases and reflux can be avoided. Examples of these are:
Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs). This is another type of medication that prevents stomach acid production and help avoid heartburn during pregnancy. Examples of these are: