For many people, pregnancy can cause different problems and heartburn is one of them.
Uncomfortable and frustrating, heartburn can make you forget about the pleasure of being pregnant as your mind becomes occupied by the pain and burning sensation in your chest.
There are two main causes of heartburn during pregnancy – the ongoing hormonal changes in the body and the increasing pressure on the stomach from the growing womb.
The hormonal changes in the body can cause the muscles in the esophagus to relax more frequently. This allows stomach acid to flow back up into the esophagus, especially when you’re lying down to take a nap or after you’ve eaten a large meal.
With each passing day, your uterus expands to accommodate the growth of your baby. This means your stomach is under more pressure, which also results in food and acid being pushed back up into your esophagus.
It’s common to have heartburn during the first and third trimesters, but it doesn’t mean you have to just bear with it throughout your pregnancy.
While medicines are not recommended for pregnancy-related heartburn as they can have lasting effects on the unborn baby, there are many simple things that can help you deal with this problem and maintain a healthy pregnancy.
Here are the top 10 ways to treat heartburn during pregnancy.
1. Eat Less, But More Often
When you are pregnant, you start paying more attention to your diet so your baby stays healthy. But this does not mean that you need to eat for two, it is just an unwarranted pregnancy myth. In fact, overeating is a big “NO” as it can worsen the symptoms of heartburn.
One of the best things you can do is eat less, more often. Having several small meals throughout the day not only helps keep acid at bay, it helps prevent morning sickness as well.
Pregnant or not, an overly stuffed stomach can contribute to heartburn. Instead of three square meals a day, try five or six smaller ones.
Take your time to finish your food and make sure to chew thoroughly. Also, avoid eating a heavy meal 2 to 3 hours before going to bed. Heartburn symptoms can worsen if you lay down soon after finishing your dinner.
2. Sleep on Your Left Side
Whether it is during pregnancy or any other time, health experts recommend sleeping on your left side.
Lying on your left side at night may decrease acid reflux, as it is more difficult for acid to flow into the esophagus while you’re in this position.
In pregnant women, a left-sided sleeping position will also prevent the liver from putting pressure on the uterus and also promote blood flow to the fetus.
Plus, it may help relieve back pain and help you enjoy much-needed sleep.
A 2000 study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology reports that increased esophageal acid exposure can be seen in the right recumbent position relative to the left recumbent position (1).
3. Chew Gum
Chewing gum after eating can help prevent heartburn, which is just one of the many discomforts that you will face during pregnancy. It stimulates your salivary glands, and saliva can help neutralize the acid that has backed up into the esophagus.
A few studies have shown that chewing gum reduces acidity in the esophagus.
A 2001 study published in the Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics reports that chewing gum after a meal helps reduce postprandial esophageal acid exposure (2).
Similarly, a 2005 study published in the Journal of Dental Research found that chewing sugar-free gum for 30 minutes after a meal can reduce acidic postprandial esophageal reflux (3).
Keep sugar-free gum handy and chew a piece for about 30 minutes after finishing your meal.
4. Elevate the Head of Your Bed
To prevent heartburn while sleeping, you can raise the head of your bed. Elevation will prevent acid from flowing back up into the esophagus. Plus, it will prevent swelling in the legs.
A 2006 analysis of controlled studies published in the Archives of Internal Medicine concluded that elevating the head of the bed is an effective strategy to reduce acid reflux symptoms and heartburn at night (4).
Try to raise the head of your bed about 2 feet. Also, you can use a wedge-shaped, foam rubber pad to elevate your upper body. Avoid using only pillows to elevate the upper body, as it will put pressure on the stomach and aggravate your symptoms.
5. Sip on Water
Sipping small amounts of water throughout the day is another simple and effective way to keep heartburn under control during pregnancy.
Consistent intake of water keeps things flushing through your gastrointestinal tract and hydrates your system, which will reduce heartburn.
However, avoid drinking too much water at once. Gulping a lot of water in one sitting will you’re your stomach upwards, which in turn will only increase the risk of heartburn.
Apart from water, include more liquid-based food in your diet, as they move through the stomach more quickly than solid food. Include liquid food like soups, smoothies, yogurt, milkshakes, protein shakes and puddings in your diet.
6. Consume Apple Cider Vinegar
Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar is one of the best things you can have to control heartburn during pregnancy.
Even though apple cider vinegar is acidic, it helps balance the acid production in the stomach or buffer the acid activity.
Apple cider vinegar is also good your health and the baby growing inside your womb.
- Simply add 1 to 2 teaspoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to a glass of water.
- Drink it 30 minutes before eating a meal.
- Do this on a regular basis.