Heartburn In Pregnancy
Guest post by Dr. Michelle Sands
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine
Pregnancy is a beautiful time in a woman’s life, but can also be filled with discomforts. One of them is heartburn. Even for women like me, who had not experienced heartburn before, pregnancy can turn you into a fire-breathing dragon (or at least that is how it feels).
Pregnancy heartburn is pretty common, and can occur throughout pregnancy. Some unlucky women experience it starting in the first trimester and intensifying through the third, while other women only notice it in the later stages.
Here is everything you need to know about pregnancy heartburn – how to avoid it, and what you need to do to get some relief – naturally.
What causes heartburn?
There are many possible causes of heartburn during pregnancy, including:
Well, hormones are involved in pretty much everything when you are pregnant! Elevated progesterone causes the valve that prevents stomach acids from passing back into the oesophagus to relax, allowing for acids to pass more easily and irritate the lining.
Hormones also slow down digestion, causing less stomach acid to be produced.
Although it can seem counter intuitive, less stomach acid actually creates heartburn and acid reflux.
Baby takes up more and more room in your abdomen, as the pregnancy goes along. Baby compresses all your digestive organs and diaphragm up into less space, leaving it easier for stomach contents to pass back up into the oesophagus. This becomes particularly prominent in the 3rd trimester.
Natural ways to relieve pregnancy heartburn
Since we need our hormones elevated and we want our babies to grow, we need to look for natural ways to relieve pregnancy heartburn, and natural ways to prevent it from happening in the first place. Most women with healthy, normal pregnancies will find easy, convenient, and effective measures to relieve heartburn discomfort naturally.
Of course, as with everything in life, there are exceptions to this. If you find your pregnancy heartburn persists or seems extra severe, talk to you doctor or midwife.
Here are some natural pregnancy heartburn remedies:
Some lifestyle changes that could help reduce your incidence of heartburn
What and how you eat or don’t eat can make all the difference with heartburn during pregnancy. Here are a few tips:
- Eat smaller meals throughout the day
- Try to make your main meal at lunchtime – this takes pressure of the digestive tract later in the day when the body is tired or ready for bed
- Try to avoid eating a couple of hours before bed or a nap
- Stay sitting upright after eating, lying down can push stomach contents back up
- When sleeping, prop head with a couple of pillows, this positioning may help.
- Stay hydrated – sip water and liquids throughout the day and between meals, rather in larger quantities
- Try naturally sweetened gum after a meal – chewing stimulates your salivary glands, naturally neutralizing acids
- Most vegetable, particularly your greens
- Green drinks or smoothies are a great way to get the greens in for relief, nutrition, and hydration!
- Herbal teas, such as peppermint (only up to 2nd trimester), chamomile, and lemon tea
- Garlic – a clove of garlic a day keeps heartburn away! Or at least some say so. If you choose garlic capsules make sure they are rich in allicin to be effective with heartburn. As always, before taking supplements, check with your midwife to make sure they are right for you.
By adding in as many of the alkalizing foods and lifestyle suggestions in your daily routine, will help balance the hormonal side effects. Also consider avoiding the more aggravating food and behavior culprits.
What to avoid:
Avoid tight fitting clothes if you have heartburn during pregnancy. It puts even more pressure on your organs.
Drinking beverages while you eat. This dilutes your digestive juices, making them less effective.
Avoid eating the following aggravating acidic foods:
- Caffeinated and sugar beverages, like tea, coffee, soda, etc.
- Citrus fruits
- Spicy, fatty, rich, and fried foods
- Fizzy drinks
- Large quantities of meat in one sitting – the body works harder if overloaded or too rich
Everyone is different
Just as we all look a little bit different on the outside, we also all look a little different on the inside. For this reason, what works for one mama may not work for you.
My suggestion: If any one of these suggestions for natural remedies and relief for heartburn during pregnancy doesn’t work – TRY ANOTHER. Keep moving down the list. Your body may respond better to one than another, which is why I wanted to give as many suggestions as possible.
If all else fails, try 1/8 tsp. of baking soda in water. You might be one of the few who actually do have too much stomach acid. This will serve as a natural antacid.