Heartburn is aggravating at the best of times – but couple that with being pregnant, and it can be especially uncomfortable. Not to mention, when you’re pregnant, you’re also limited by which medications you can take. What can you do if you have heartburn while pregnant?
Well, the goods news is – there are plenty of natural remedies to help get rid of heartburn. Some may even surprise you! Let’s discuss what these remedies are – as well as the reason why heartburn occurs in the first place.
What Causes Heartburn in Pregnancy?
In general, heartburn occurs when your esophageal sphincter doesn’t close properly. This valve protects your esophagus from your stomach’s acidity.
If you’re pregnant, your hormones – namely progesterone – relax your muscles, including that valve. As a result, gastric digestive juices may start to irritate the lining of your gastrointestinal tract.
By the time you reach your third trimester, a new issue presents itself. Your baby starts putting pressure on your intestines and stomach, which can cause excess acid to go up into your esophagus.1
In some cases, heartburn isn’t always caused by high stomach acids levels, but rather low acid levels in the stomach acid, also known as your hydrochloric acid (HCl) levels. 2
What are the Signs of Heartburn During Pregnancy?
Heartburn is very common during pregnancy – in fact, up to 45% of pregnant women will experience it.3
You actually might experience a wide variety of indigestion or heartburn symptoms while pregnant, such as:
- A burning feeling in your chest
- A burning sensation in your stomach and esophagus
- A sour taste in the back of your throat
- Excessive Burping
- Nausea or vomiting
Sometimes, these symptoms can occur immediately after eating. Other times, heartburn and indigestion may come on several hours after you eat.
In Which Trimester is Acid Reflux the Most Acute?
Heartburn symptoms are most common in the third trimester, after about 27 weeks. But you may still battle with the burn much earlier.
Natural Remedies for Indigestion and Heartburn in Pregnant Women
When you’re expecting, you may be hesitant to turn to medication. Some medications can cause constipation, and you often don’t know whether they’re safe during pregnancy. Thankfully, there are plenty of natural remedies that pregnant women swear by.5
There’s not always a scientific explanation for why some of these remedies work. Different remedies seem to work for different women – so keep trying until you find what works for you.
And, of course, please consult your physician immediately before beginning any new remedy – he or she will know what’s best for your specific medical needs.
Remedy #1: Water
Don’t underestimate the value of good old-fashioned H20 for heartburn. When it comes to staying hydrated, it’s all about consistency – but be careful not to overdo it. Drinking too much water in one sitting has actually been known to cause heartburn. This is especially true when you’re pregnant, as your stomach is already being compounded by your growing baby.
Instead, try to sip on a glass of water throughout the day. Or carry a water bottle in your handbag, so you always have some water handy.
Remedy #2: Chewing Gum
Chewing gum is a great heartburn reliever. Gum stimulates your salivary glands, which sends more saliva to your esophagus. This extra saliva acts as a natural antacid, washing away stomach acid that may be lingering in your esophagus.6
Be sure to choose a sugar-free gum to protect your teeth – but be wary of peppermint flavor. Some people find peppermint helps heartburn, while others believe it makes heartburn discomfort worse.
Remedy #3: Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar – it can do anything, right? Some people absolutely swear by it for heartburn. While it may seem counterintuitive to add more acid to an acidic environment, ACV actually helps neutralize excess acid.
Now, there is a lot of mixed research on why apple cider vinegar works for heartburn relief. With so many people swearing by it, researchers are still trying to find out why.7
Remedy #4: Yogurt
Yogurt is a fantastic heartburn remedy for many reasons. It belongs to the fermented foods family and is packed with loads of probiotics for healthy digestion. It’s also a great source of protein for pregnant women. Even better – it seems to have a cooling, soothing effect on reflux.
In one study, people with gastroesophageal reflux disease found relief by eating yogurt every day. These participants hadn’t found relief with traditional heartburn drugs like proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). But eating yogurt for three months helped ease their reflux symptoms.8
Remedy #5: Acupuncture
If you needed another reason to get back to the zen only an acupuncturist can bring… this is it! Acupuncture may be able to relieve indigestion and heartburn in pregnant women. In one study, a majority of women treated with acupuncture saw their heartburn symptoms reduced by half. These women also reported eating and sleeping better.9
A Word of Caution
Two natural remedies you may commonly see listed are baking soda and aloe vera juice. However, neither of these remedies have undergone enough research to be deemed safe. Don’t panic if you’ve just taken some baking soda for your heartburn – but be sure to check with your obstetrician and see what he or she recommends.
Other Tips For Heartburn During Pregnancy
Natural remedies for heartburn are great, but it’s also important to look at any habits that may also be making your heartburn worse. A few things to consider are:
- Are you eating right before bed? Be sure to eat dinner at least 2-3 hours before bed, so your stomach can empty before you sleep.
- Are you eating too fast? Eating too fast is one of the greatest causes of indigestion – so try to take more time between bites.
- Are your meals too big? With less room in your stomach region during pregnancy, big meals can cause nausea and indigestion. It’s better to eat smaller meals more often. It can also be helpful to take smaller bites.
- Are you staying healthy? Carrying more weight than recommended by your doctor can be dangerous for your health – and it can make heartburn worse.
- Are you eating “trigger” foods? Certain foods and drinks can trigger heartburn – so try to limit them if you’re experiencing heartburn. These troublesome foods and drinks include coffee, citrus fruits, tomatoes, chocolate, peppermint, garlic, onions, and fatty or spicy foods.10
- Are you feeling stressed? Stress and anxiety are often cited as triggers for heartburn – but they’re also not great for your baby. Talk to a health professional if you’re feeling anxious or overly stressed.
- Are you sleeping in a good position? If you’re struggling with heartburn overnight, try to sleep with your head more elevated. You can use extra pillows or buy a foam wedge to place under your mattress. This will help your digestive juices to flow into your stomach and intestines, rather than back up your esophagus.
Unfortunately, heartburn and related nausea, burning, and bloating can’t always be avoided during pregnancy. But it can feel much better to turn to more natural remedies at this delicate time in your baby’s life.
Why not give some of these natural remedies a try and see if they work for you?
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