Every mommy-to-be has experienced heartburn at some point of time during their term. In fact, even if you are somebody who’s used to a healthy lifestyle and has never had heartburn ever before, chances stand that you may get heartburn during pregnancy. It is actually a very common yet extremely uncomfortable condition. And that is because there are reasons for this:
- The hormonal changes in the body affect digestion, and often hamper it. This leads to heartburn.
- The same hormones can make the LES relax, causing reflux.
- Also the growing uterus puts pressure on the stomach by pushing the diaphragm upwards and the food and acids tend to reflux.
And since you are pregnant, and any medicines you have can also directly affect the baby through the placenta, just popping pills will really not be a good idea.
Therefore it becomes imperative to try other means of dealing with the heartburn when you are pregnant. And in that department, we have split our ‘advice’ into two – What to do and natural and safe home remedies to try.
So, let’s get on with the advice…
What to do
Here are a few healthy practices that may help to keep heartburn at bay during pregnancy:
- Cut down on portions and increase the number of meals you eat. With less food in your stomach, the chance of reflux is also less.
- When eating, do so slowly and make sure you chew your food well. Proper chewing is the first step in digestion, and if you do this well, your chances of indigestion are lessened.
- Don’t drink a lot of water or liquids at meals. IF you need to, take a sip. Otherwise hydrate between successive meals.
- Don’t lie down right after a meal, especially on your back if you're in the first trimester– it increases the chances of acid reflux, especially since you are pregnant. Try to keep sitting or stand for a bit. And this includes at dinnertime, eat with at least 2-3 hours in hand before you go to bed.
- Lie down with your head and chest elevated – do this by raising the upper part of your bed and not only with pillows.
- Avoid foods that cause heartburn usually – chocolate, spicy and hot foods, rich and oily food. More importantly, know what triggers your heartburn and avoid those ingredients or dishes.
- Don’t wear clothes that are tight. As it is, they will compromise your comfort during pregnancy. Plus, they will also worsen reflux and heartburn.
- If you are suffering constipation another common condition during pregnancy, ask your gynecologist what you should do to remedy that – because constipation will lead to further heartburn.
- You may have heard that it is normal for a pregnant woman to eat for two – but that’s a myth. The more you eat, the more weight you will gain, and this will lead on to heartburn. Get your doctor dietician to chart out exactly what and how much you need to eat at each stage and stick to this.
Most pregnant women find relief from following these precautions, especially during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters when the condition actually worsens.
And now for relief…
Here are a few home remedies that have worked for many women. And the best part is that these are all completely safe during pregnancy, so you can resort to them without worry.
- Keep a piece of fresh ginger root in your mouth and chew on it from time to time. It is pungent, but it can relieve heartburn.
- Chew on some sugar free gum after meals – this stimulates saliva production which does some of the digestive work for your stomach.
- Edible aloe gel – this soothes the irritated esophagus and brings relief.
- Coconut water is another quick natural antacid.
- ‘Fennel tea’ - made by soaking 2 tsp fennel seeds in 1 cup of boiling water for 10 minutes – is another healthy way to beat heartburn.
- Apple cider vinegar also may be of help.
- Include papaya in your diet – this may help with digestion and relieve heartburn.
Heartburn during pregnancy can be pretty frequent and severe. The pain in your lower chest, the bitter or sour taste in your mouth and worse – the inability to take pills, but with the right care and once you’ve had a discussion with your doctor, you can overcome it safely and completely!