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Heartburn during pregnancy is horrible, I have been there. I loved pregnancy, but definitely didn’t enjoy that burning feeling in my throat and chest of food coming back up! It made me miserable most days (and nights!). But, looking at the bright side, I hated it so much I really tried anything to make it stop! If you are also pregnant and struggling with it, here’s a list of all the remedies for heartburn during pregnancy, including home and natural ones, and tips on how to prevent it.
I am not saying that you need to do them all at once, but try them and see what works for you. Usually what works best is a combination of some of these tips / remedies.
Why Heartburn during Pregnancy?
Heartburn is very common in women during pregnancy: almost half of expecting moms experience it at some stage. Heartburn is caused by the pregnancy hormones, which make the valve at the entrance of the stomach relax, so that it doesn’t close completely as it should. This allows acidic stomach fluids and undigested food to move back up from the stomach into the esophagus. This condition is also known as gastrophageal reflux (GER), or acid reflux.
Heartburn can be especially painful when lying down or after you’ve just eaten, as it’s easier for the acid liquids in your stomach to come back up. And it can start anytime in the second or third trimester and, unfortunately, it can get worse during the later stages on pregnancy when the baby presses up on the stomach!
Tips on how to avoid Heartburn during Pregnancy
Why treat something when you can avoid it altogether? Here’s some of the best tips on how to prevent heartburn during pregnancy. Note that, during the latest stages of pregnancy, and depending on your degree of heartburn, this might only help partially. You will still need to try some of the remedies for full relief.
I also found that the list below can be very restrictive. We all love some junk food every now and then, particularly when pregnant. Giving up all of these things, every single day, can be impossible sometimes!
1. Eat smaller meals
This took me a while to master, as I was really used to eating a lot at breakfast, lunch and dinner, without breaks in between. Heartburn has really taught me how to eat smaller portions, more frequently, during the day.
The reason why eating smaller meals really help is that your digestive system really slows down when pregnant. So having smaller portions allows your stomach to digest all the food without spitting it back up.
2. Eat slower
This one I also struggled with. I am used to scarfing food down and am always the first one to finish at the table. But eating slower really helps your digestion as the stomach isn’t overloaded with food all at once.
3. Drink water in between meals
Liquids add volume to your stomach, which can increase stomach pressure like a large meal would. That’s why drinking in between meals helps avoid heartburn.
4. Don’t lie down straight after eating
Giving your body time to digest the food while being up-right might also help with heartburn. I remember I used to miss so much being able to watch TV lying down on the couch after dinner. But sitting up instead of lying down really helps keeping that dinner down, with no burning throat.
I don’t think there’s a set rule of how long you should wait. It really depends on how much or what you’ve eaten. Or on how your baby is behaving tonight in your belly 🙂 You will know when you are ready to lie down again. And if you are really tired and want to go to bed, try the following tip #5.
5. Elevate your body when lying down
If you can’t stand or sit up all the time (you need to be able to sleep at night, right?!), try elevate your head and back with some pillows. Towards the end of my pregnancy I used to alternate sleeping on my side and on my back with two pillows behind my back.
6. Avoid fatty foods
No more fries with heartburn, sorry! Fatty foods are well known to flair up stomach acid and cause heartburn. I even had to cut my favorite take away pizza. I ate it twice in the evening at some work events and ended up throwing it back up in the middle of the night. Not worth the trouble!
7. Avoid acid foods / liquids
Acid foods and liquids also make heartburn worse. Some of the most popular ones that people incorporate in everyday diet are: tomatoes, chocolate, spicy foods (cut down on the chilly! Or Indian takeaway in my case), citrus fruits, coffee or carbonated drinks.
I am Italian and don’t even get me started on how much I missed my tomatoes! And, as a general rule, I found that avoiding any kind of takeaway always helped.
8. Wear loose clothing
I soon had to say goodbye to tight jeans, even when they could still fit me. I remember sitting at work, or at one of my yoga sessions, and feel that pressure of the pants on my stomach, while having throbbing heartburn in my throat.
Enjoy this time in life when you can wear baggy clothes without anyone judging. At least I did!
9. Sleep on the left side
When sleeping on the left side, your stomach is lower than your esophagus, so chances that anything is going to come back up are lower.
Going for a 10-minute walk half an hour after a meal promotes digestion, which will naturally put less pressure on your stomach, meaning it’s less likely to spit acid back up your esophagus.
Remedies for Heartburn during Pregnancy
Here’s a list of all the remedies that you could try to get relief from heartburn when pregnant. Note that I would recommend natural / home remedies first. But there’s no shame in using a medicine if or when it gets really bad! Just remember to talk to your doctor or pharmacist first to make sure it’s safe for you and your baby.
Natural and Home Remedies for Heartburn during Pregnancy
- Milk / Dairy
Milk or other forms of dairy help to neutralize the acidity in your stomach. I don’t drink cow milk, so I remember I used to eat so much cheese! My wife used to laugh at me eating a slice of cheddar just before going to bed.
It’s funny how sometimes our body knows what it needs before we even find out. I remember I was craving so much more cheese than usual even before I read it was good for heartburn.
I didn’t know this at the time, but I read that a small glass of almond milk after every meal or just when the heartburn hits also helps.
2. Herbal Teas
Peppermint tea is a bit controversial. Lots of people say it helps, but other find that it just increases their heartburn. I didn’t find it really helped me personally.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
This works more as a preventative, so you have to do it every day! You need to mix a teaspoon with some water, juice or tea, and drink it. The downside of this is that it tastes horrible! I could not do it, honestly.
5. Baking Soda
Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda in water for immediate relief. Always works like a charm. The baking soda neutralizes the acid in your stomach, and works quickly.
Similarly to licorice tea, chewing on a licorice root could also help. It is believed that it helps increase the mucous coating of your esophagus lining.
Papaya contains an enzyme that helps digestion. You can try taking papaya enzyme tablets before eating, or have some fresh, dried or freeze-dried papaya.
Buy Papaya Enzyme Tablets on Amazon <- here.
I already like almonds under normal cirscumstances… so I went crazy with them over pregnancy! I always had a stash of almonds with me wherever I went 🙂
They are good at neutralizing the juices in the stomach, which may relieve or even prevent heartburn.
9. Sugarless Gum
Chewing on a sugarless gum for about half an hour after meals increases saliva production, which can neutralize excess acid in your esophagus.
I honestly tried this but didn’t really work for me. On the contrary, it was making me feel sicker after a while!
10. Essential Oils
I have personally never tried these, but if you choose to, make sure to use quality oils and never take them by mouth!
I did acupuncture for fertility to get pregnant and during pregnancy and I witnessed its benefits on my own skin. Acupuncture can improve all pregnancy symptoms, including heartburn.
Similarly to acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments can also help with overall pregnancy symptoms, including heartburn. In fact, certain adjustment can help relax the diaphragm and shift the esophageal valve into a better and lower position.
Medicines for Heartburn: my secret weapon
If none of the above remedies work, you can also try talk to your doctor about medicines that are safe to take for heartburn during pregnancy.
I personally did take Gaviscon every now and then. Particularly when over indulging in the evening. Sometimes I just couldn’t stop myself! I knew that without it I would have been awake throwing up at 2 am! It was my secret weapon when all else failed.
Gaviscon is totally safe during pregnancy and you only need a spoon before lying down in bed at night. You don’t even need a doctor’s prescription for it. However, some people really prefer to stick to only natural remedies.
Shop for Gaviscon on Amazon <-here.
All the natural and home remedies for heartburn listed above could help relieve any discomfort. However, remember that every person reacts differently: something that worked for someone else, might not necessarily work for you! You should really try a few of them and see what works best for you.
I personally found relief with a combination of some of these remedies during my pregnancy. What really worked for me was prevention: walks, eating less and more frequently, don’t lie down straight after eating, etc. I really tried to work hard on prevention as much as I could. But when heartburn hit, almonds and cheese, with some herbal tea, were my favorite choice. I know… nice combination, right??!! I am not saying I would take them all at once though 🙂
Talk to your doctor if you can’t find a way to overcome your acid reflux and heartburn, they may be able to prescribe something that will work for you or may know of other ways to relieve your heartburn.
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