Oh, heartburn! Most of us moms have experienced acid reflux sometime in our lives, but for many women like me, the symptoms are too much to handle! But what’s heartburn, and why is acid reflux called as such?
Heartburn is a common symptom experienced by many pregnant women. It is characterized by a burning sensation in the chest or throat, often accompanied by a sour or bitter taste. The hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can relax the muscles of the digestive tract, allowing stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus, causing heartburn. The growing uterus can also put pressure on the stomach, further exacerbating the problem.
Causes of heartburn during pregnancy
There are several factors that contribute to the development of heartburn during pregnancy. As mentioned earlier, the hormonal changes and increased pressure on the stomach play a significant role.
Additionally, the relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter, a muscle that normally prevents stomach acid from flowing back up, can lead to acid reflux and heartburn. The expanding uterus can push the stomach upward, causing acid to leak into the esophagus.
Natural remedies to relieve heartburn during pregnancy
Fortunately, there are many natural remedies that can help alleviate heartburn during pregnancy. One effective method is to elevate the head while sleeping by using pillows or a maternity pillow. This helps keep stomach acid down by preventing it from flowing back into the esophagus.
Another remedy is to eat smaller, more frequent meals instead of large meals, as this can help prevent overloading the stomach and reduce the likelihood of acid reflux.
Ginger is a natural remedy that has been used for centuries to soothe digestive discomfort. Pregnant women can try consuming ginger tea or ginger candies to alleviate heartburn symptoms. Additionally, drinking a glass of warm water with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar (pasteurized is the safest!) before meals can help improve digestion and reduce the occurrence of heartburn.
Chewing sugar-free gum is another helpful method for alleviating the pain of acid reflux. According to one study, acid reflux can be mitigated by chewing sugar-free gum for 30 minutes after a meal.
The American Pregnancy Association also suggests trying a tablespoon of honey in a glass of warm milk to alleviate acid reflux. Pineapple and papaya's digestive enzymes have been helpful for some pregnant women. If you have trouble digesting your food or get heartburn after eating, try eating one of these fruits after your meal.
Lifestyle changes to prevent heartburn during pregnancy
In addition to natural remedies, making certain lifestyle changes can also help prevent heartburn during pregnancy. It is important to avoid lying down immediately after eating, as this can allow stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus. Instead, pregnant women should remain upright for at least an hour after meals. Wearing loose-fitting clothing can also help reduce pressure on the abdomen and minimize the occurrence of heartburn.
It is advisable for pregnant women to avoid smoking and consuming alcohol, as these habits can contribute to heartburn and are detrimental to any pregnant woman. Regular exercise, such as walking or prenatal yoga, can help improve digestion and reduce the likelihood of acid reflux. Additionally, stress management techniques, such as deep breathing exercises or meditation, can also be beneficial in preventing heartburn during pregnancy.
Diet tips to reduce heartburn during pregnancy
The foods that pregnant women consume play a significant role in managing heartburn. It is important to avoid spicy, greasy, and acidic foods, as they can trigger heartburn symptoms. Instead, focus on consuming foods that are low in fat and high in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. For most pregnant moms, it may also be helpful to eat smaller portions and chew food thoroughly to aid digestion. As someone who constantly suffered from heartburn during all three of my pregnancies, I opted to eat my meals in smaller portions and this helped a lot!
Certain foods have been found to have soothing properties for the digestive system. Consuming yogurt, for example, can help balance the gut bacteria and reduce the occurrence of heartburn. Oatmeal is another beneficial food that can absorb excess stomach acid and provide relief.
When to seek medical help for heartburn during pregnancy
While most cases of heartburn during pregnancy can be managed with natural remedies and lifestyle changes, there are instances where medical intervention may be necessary. If pregnant women experience severe or persistent heartburn that is not relieved by safe-for-pregnant-women OTC remedies, it is important to consult a healthcare professional. They can provide guidance and recommend safe and effective medications to alleviate symptoms.
It is also advisable to seek medical help if heartburn is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, such as difficulty swallowing, chest pain, or unexplained weight loss. These may be signs of a more serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.
Heartburn during pregnancy can be an uncomfortable and bothersome symptom, but there are many natural ways to relieve it. By understanding the causes and making certain lifestyle changes, pregnant women can effectively manage heartburn. Natural remedies, such as elevating the head while sleeping and consuming ginger, can provide relief. Additionally, adopting a healthy diet and avoiding trigger foods can help reduce the occurrence of heartburn. However, if symptoms persist or worsen, it is important to seek medical help. Remember, every pregnancy is unique, so it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and guidance.
The information provided is not meant to be a substitute for expert medical advice, diagnosis, or care. Always ask your doctor or another qualified health provider for advice if you have any concerns about a medical issue. Never dismiss or put off getting expert medical advice because of something you read on Bub’s Blog. babybub does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on this site.