Aside from the joy that comes with expecting, there are some other not-so-joyful things that your body may go through while you’re pregnant. One of the biggest ones? Heartburn and acid reflux. Switching from a perfectly healthy eating and digestive process to one riddled with heartburn can be really frustrating, especially if you’ve never had the symptoms before! But the good news is that it’s not permanent.
The reason that heartburn happens during pregnancy is because of progesterone, a hormone that relaxes muscles during pregnancy, which also relaxes the lower esophageal valve that normally contracts to keep stomach acid from splashing up the esophagus. This change can cause really bad symptoms of heartburn or even GERD, a chronic digestive disorder affecting the lower esophageal sphincter (that ring of muscle between your esophagus and your stomach).
Pregnancy reflux usually resolves itself once you’ve given birth, but until then, here are 10 tips from our reflux specialists on how to soothe heartburn during pregnancy.
10 Tips For Heartburn Relief During Pregnancy
Since heartburn during pregnancy is typically not a permanent issue, these tips center around lifestyle changes and some over-the-counter solutions.
1. Eat Smaller Meals
Eating small, more frequent meals can really help to avoid heartburn altogether. This will help prevent your digestive system from slowing down during pregnancy and it will keep you from having a very full stomach, which can lead to stomach acid build up and, consequently, heartburn and acid reflux.
2. Avoid Laying Down After A Meal
Laying down after a meal, even a small one, can cause stomach acid to flow back up your esophagus. On the other hand, if you remain sitting or if you take a light walk, it’ll help your food digest a little quicker and keep the stomach acid out of your esophagus.
3. Avoid Trigger Foods
Trigger foods are usually foods that are greasy, spicy, sugary, or containing chocolate or citrus, as these are known to exacerbate heartburn and acid reflux.
4. Wear Loose-Fitting Clothes
As a pregnant women, you’re likely already staying away from tight clothing, but aside from the obvious comfort reasons, wearing loose-fitting clothing can also help avoid heartburn by relieving you of any pressure to your abdomen.
5. Try Ginger Ale
If your symptoms of heartburn are light, or if they’re accompanied by some discomfort in your belly, try ginger ale! Ginger has been known to relieve some of the side effects of heartburn.
6. Try Tums
As obvious or silly as it may seem, taking a Tums is a good way to relieve heartburn. Because these symptoms only last through your pregnancy, most physicians agree that over-the-counter solutions are a good alternative to proton-pump-inhibitors, which normally function as temporary acid-blockers. It’s important to note that our reflux doctors do not recommend PPIs due to their dangerous side effects.
7. Avoid Milk
Although it may sound like a soothing option, milk actually increases your stomach acid and makes it easier for stomach acid to shoot back up into your throat.
8. Avoid Peppermint
When we experience heartburn, it’s natural to want to try an option that seems to encapsulate everything fresh and cool: peppermint. But, before you do, resist the urge! Peppermint actually dilates your lower esophageal sphincter which will further prevent it from contracting properly.
9. Sip Liquids Between Meals
Drinking plenty of water can help soothe the symptoms of heartburn or acid reflux, but quickly gulping down water or even drinking too much during a meal can trigger heartburn and make digestion more difficult.
10. Keep Your Head Up High
While we absolutely do mean this in a spiritual and emotional sense, we also mean it in a literal way. As in, keeping your head higher than your feet while you sleep! It doesn’t have to be uncomfortably high, just enough to where your head is higher than your feet!
Heartburn during pregnancy is just another part of what we like to call “the joy of pregnancy”, but fortunately, the heartburn and acid reflux doesn’t stick around and doesn’t require any extra attention. If you notice that your symptoms do not go away after you’ve delivered, then you probably want to seek medical attention with a reflux specialist as it’s likely that you’ve developed GERD. To see one of our reflux specialists, contact us today or book an appointment!