How to Get Rid of Heartburn During Pregnancy

They say if you have bad heartburn during pregnancy your child will come out with a full head of hair. It’s an old wives tale but for some, it’s very much the truth.

My son entered this world with dark, curly hair, and I had heartburn so bad I had to sit up at night to sleep for the last three months.

I felt like there was no cure for it. In that same sense, I wish I had known a lot of these at home remedies to help because maybe they could have been a sleep saver we’ll call it.

Now that you are here I’m sure you’re looking for ways to relieve it and what causes it so let’s begin to get you some relief.

What Causes Heartburn?

One thing many believe is that if they’ve never had an issue with heartburn they won’t during pregnancy but that isn’t the case. It can happen to anyone and become more prevalent the further along in your pregnancy you are.

One of the major causes is the change in hormones. Progesterone, a major component of pregnancy, causes the lower esophageal sphincter to weaken (which prevents acid from coming back up)[1] so the relaxation of it means more heartburn.

It can also be caused by the diet which is something that we will discuss later in the article.

Another reason is that the baby is growing[2]. This isn’t something you can help and the bigger they grow the more they compress your organs leaving less space for food, in combination with the relaxed sphincter, causing some of the acid to go in the opposite direction.

There isn’t anything you can do about the baby growing, but you can help to reduce the symptoms by making a few changes (but you might also get no relief depending on the severity and if you have had it or GERD previously).

Eat Earlier and Smaller

Instead of eating your dinner later in the evening (as many do because of schedules and life), you should have your ‘larger’ meal earlier in the day, maybe for lunch instead.

On doctor, Joel Richter, MD., stated that not eating three hours before bed is the best bet.[3] This gives your body ample opportunity to digest what you have eaten to prevent everything from sitting inside your stomach while you are trying to lay down.

In the same sense, you’ll also want to decrease the amount of food you eat at each meal and you can do that by increasing the number of meals (but not the amount of food).

During those small meals, one should take their time eating (instead of scarfing it down) and then stay upright for a bit afterward.[4]

Watch for Trigger Foods

There are certain foods that naturally tend cause more heartburn than others. Knowing what they are and either eliminating them or reducing the frequency that you consume them can help tremendously to keep your stomach and esophagus from feeling like they are on fire.

But also, be aware that what causes heartburn for one woman might not cause an issue for another woman. These are guidelines and you can start with these.

Some of the most commonly discussed trigger foods include foods that are high in acidity which could be citrus fruits and tomatoes (which includes pasta sauce as well), greasy and fried foods, spicy foods, chocolate, coffee, carbonated drinks, and alcohol.[5]

Obviously you should be avoiding alcohol anyway because you are pregnant, however, we must include everything in there just to be complete. This again contains the most common triggers.

While you might not be able to have that burger and fries, your friend who is just as far along might be able to scarf it down (slowly) with no issues.

Buy the Loose Clothes

This one might sound silly. However, you know the relief you get after eating a large meal and removing the constricting pants after the meal to “let it all hang out”? That is a relief.

The same concept goes for heartburn when you are pregnant. Your stomach is already fighting for the little space it has, and adding tight clothing is adding more pressure which can increase the likelihood of acid reflux.[6]

This is the perfect excuse to go out and buy a few pieces of clothing that accentuate your beautiful bump and are comfortable at the same time.

Even some form-fitting shirts while they look tight are quite loose and comfortable from the maternity section of popular stores.

Try Other Different Methods

Mama Natural[7] provides a lot of additional options and alternatives for helping to relieve heartburn while pregnant.

Some of the options they include, along with various recipes, is the use of apple cider vinegar, lemon (which while acidic could be the one to help reduce heartburn), coconut water, ginger, fennel, peppermint, milk/yogurt (which I found to be a tremendous help, for a while), high enzyme foods, and fermented foods.

There are plenty of holistic ideas mentioned on their site to help ease the burn and hopefully, some can work for you.

When All Else Fails

Sometimes, no matter what you do, the heartburn just will not abate (thanks to that full head of hair). At this point turning to medication, over the counter, isn’t something to be ashamed of.

Sometimes, it’s a necessity if you want to sleep, or sit, or wear clothing, etc. Before you start taking something call your doctor to discuss your options with them. However, there are some common ones that women take as seen below.[8]

Proton Pump Inhibitors: these can include ones such as Prilosec, Prevacid, Nexium, Aciphex, etc. These are ones that you take on a regular basis to help reduce the acid consistently.

H2 Blockers: these can include ones such as Zantac or Tagamet which primarily are taken like the PPI’s seen above. Some women have better results with one or the other.

Antacids: these include Tums and Rolaids. These are some of the ones that women use for a breakthrough. You’re taking your other medication yet, that heartburn is still occurring, these can help with that.

Plus, some contain calcium which is a vital nutrient for women while pregnant as well.

Remember to Talk to Your Doctor

As with anything that you do while pregnant, make sure that you discuss what you are doing with your doctor to ensure that it is okay for you to do while pregnant and won’t cause any issues, preterm labor, etc. just so that you are safe while trying to manage the burning flames in your esophagus.

Hopefully one of these remedies will give you some relief, or at least enough to make it through a meal and get some sleep so that you are well rested.

It does feel like a long road but know that once the baby is born you should have near immediate relief of heartburn, because well frankly, you get some room back in your body for your organs to breathe and relax.

References

  1. John P. Cunha, DO, via Medicine Net. 16 Natural Remedies for heartburn During Pregnancy. [link]
  2. Mama Natural. Pregnancy heartburn: natural relief and Remedies. [link]
  3. Anne Harding via Health. 12 Ways to Soothe Heartburn in Pregnancy. [link]
  4. See above #1
  5. Hillari Dowdle via Fit Pregnancy. 5 Ways to reduce Heartburn During Pregnancy. [link]
  6. See above #3
  7. See above #2
  8. See above #1
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