Why Does It Happen In Pregnancy
Many women who have heartburn during pregnancy have never had problems before. Unfortunately, if you had heartburn before becoming pregnant, youre more likely to have symptoms while you are pregnant. Although the exact reasons arent clear, most experts believe that pregnancy hormones, particularly progesterone, play a role. Hormones cause relaxation of the esophageal sphincter. This is a tight circular band of muscle at the top of the stomach. This allows partially digested food and stomach acids to backflow, or reflux, into the esophagus. In addition, progesterone also slows the digestive process. This keeps food in the stomach longer. The pregnancy itselfthe upward pressure of the growing uterusalso may play a role.
Don’t Eat Right Before Bed
Having a hearty meal and then heading to bed is a recipe for heartburn, warns Joel Richter, MD, director of the division of gastroenterology and nutrition and the esophageal diseases center at the University of South Florida, in Tampa, who has studied heartburn during pregnancy. He recommends trying not to eat for at least three hours before you go to sleep. You should also try to avoid liquids starting a few hours before bedtime.
What Can I Eat That Wont Give Me Heartburn While Pregnant
The good news is you can eat a lot of things that wont cause heartburn symptoms while pregnant. The important question really is, says Dr. Johnson, what should you not eat if you have GERD? There is actually a relatively short list of foods to avoid, including alcohol, chocolate, citrus juices, tomato-based products, peppermint, coffee, and fatty foods.
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Causes Of Indigestion In Pregnancy
Symptoms of indigestion come when the acid in your stomach irritates your stomach lining or your gullet. This causes pain and a burning feeling.
When you’re pregnant, you’re more likely to have indigestion because of:
- hormonal changes
- the growing baby pressing on your stomach
- the muscles between your stomach and gullet relaxing, allowing stomach acid to come back up
You may be more likely to get indigestion in pregnancy if:
- you had indigestion before you were pregnant
- you’ve been pregnant before
- you’re in the later stages of pregnancy
Natural Remedies For Heartburn During Pregnancy
Is heartburn making your pregnancy even more uncomfortable? Simple lifestyle and diet changes can help you reduce or eliminate your symptoms.
Dr. Justin Hoffman, ND, NMD
Pregnancy heartburn can be extremely painful. Unfortunately, many of the traditional solutions require pills and medications to which you probably dont want to expose your baby. Luckily, natural heartburn remedies can provide heartburn relief.
PLEASE NOTE: If you experience prolonged or severe pregnancy heartburn, see a medical professional immediately.
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Does Water Help With Acid Reflux During Pregnancy
Water can be a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to affecting GERD symptoms in pregnancy. Dr. Johnson notes that some women find that drinking water after a meal helps. It is thought that it may reduce the level of acidity in the stomach. However, Dr. Ross suggests saving the water for non-meal times, as drinking large amounts while eating may fill up the stomach and increase the risk of acid reflux and heartburn.
Because stomach volume is reduced due to the growing uterus, consuming too much water can provoke GERD symptoms. Any extra water you drink can overwhelm the lower esophageal sphincter, causing uncomfortable symptoms. In other words, drink water in moderation, preferably after or between meals, to avoid provoking symptoms.
Can Acid Reflux During Pregnancy Hurt My Unborn Baby
Dr. Johnson assures that simple reflux on its own is not harmful to fetuses. It is only when there is a drastic effect on nutritional input that GERD during pregnancy could become a problem. If symptoms are preventing you from eating the recommended number of calories, it is important to contact your healthcare provider immediately.
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Opt For Tums Over Rolaids
You may be tempted to get Rolaids as thats what youre used to. Cut this out during pregnancy.
The best option is to take TUMS. These digest within the stomach to balance out the stomach acid. However, some pregnant women have said that theyre arent as effective as Pepcid during the third trimester.
TUMS is useful when you need on-the-spot treatment, but Pepcid will last longer. There is also the downside of sugar in TUMS, which should normally be managed but especially during pregnancy to avoid gestational diabetes.
Heartburn Symptoms And Pre
If your heartburn symptoms don’t go away with medicine, it’s important to see your doctor as it may be a sign of something more serious, such as pre-eclampsia. A pregnant woman with pre-eclampsia usually has high blood pressure and problems with her kidneys. Pre-eclampsia could also seriously affect a woman’s liver, blood and brain. Any pregnant woman can experience pre-eclampsia â almost 1 in 20 Australian women will develop it.
Because pre-eclampsia is dangerous for both you and your baby, you should let your doctor know if your heartburn medicine is not working. This is especially important if you’re also feeling very unwell or you have:
- sudden swelling of your hands, feet or face
- a headache that doesn’t go away with simple painkillers
- problems with your eyesight such as blurring or seeing flashing lights or dots
- a strong pain below your ribs
Find out more about how pre-eclampsia is treated here.
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Heres What Other Mamas Have To Say About Relieving Heartburn During Pregnancy Naturally
I asked the moms on my Facebook page about their go-to natural remedies for pregnancy heartburn, and here is a sample of their responses.
- Apple cider vinegar, pickle juice, digestive enzymes! Katie Keepman
- An apple in the morning and right before bed. Elsa Silva
- It may sound weird, but I would either drink a little pickle juice, or eat a spoonful of peanut butter and within about 5-10 minutes was gone. Jessica Fields
- Baking soda in a little bit of water helped! Was it gross? A little, but still more enjoyable than heartburn! Erin M. Strand
- Maybe not the healthiest, but I always had ginger snaps next to my bed. I ate one or two at night for the heartburn and another one or two in the morning for the nausea. Sarah Gilroy
- I didnt treat my heartburn with any natural remedies, but did learn that bad heartburn can often present itself as nausea/morning sickness! Women who experiences bad nausea/MS should consider your remedies as well! Renee Jillian
- So far, wearing hazelwood helps some. Not perfect, but helps a little. Susan Miller
- I had heard to eat a few green olives. So when a pregnant friend was needing relief, I suggested her to try itand it works!!! Shawna Beaubien
- Liquid slippery elm works instantly! Ashly Burke-Goike
Try Out Tagamet For Longer Term Relief
Another option for longer term relief is a medication called Tagamet. This works in the same way as Zantac 75 and Pepcid, by blocking some acid production but mostly neutralizing the acid that is in the stomach. It is a longer term relief than the likes of TUMS and Maalox.
The benefit is that Tagamet as a category B rating. This is important for doctors as it means that it hasnt shown any signs of causing an unborn baby problems. It is more favorable than Prilosec, which has a category C rating.
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Try Out Pepcid For Your Heartburn
One of the branded medications that you can take is Pepcid. This medication is commonly used for treating ulcers in the stomach, and it helps to balance out the amount of acid within the stomach and in the food pipe. It is very commonly recommended to those with GERD, which can flare up during pregnancy.
Since it doesnt cause other effects on your body, it is safe during pregnancy. In fact, doctors recommend it in many heartburn meddicine cases.
There are both liquid and tablet forms. Liquids tend to be the most favored and they may feel like they soothe on the way down. If you want to eliminate the problem completed, consider the above advice of taking a tablet with little water.
Tips On How To Avoid Heartburn During Pregnancy
Why treat something when you can avoid it altogether? Heres 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!
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Easy Ways To Keep Heartburn At Bay:
Here are the tried and tested ways to keep heartburn away.
- Eat small meals
Rather than have big portions sizes divide your daily meals into smaller meals.
Take your time with meals. Once the child joins you, there wont be time for elaborate meals anyway.
- Amp up your fluids
Make sure you have a lot of water, dehydration can cause a lot of issues including heart burn.
- No water with food
While water is good for you refrain from having it along with food. Instead have it in between meals.
- Do not lie down right after meal
Though you might want to lie down every now and then, do not do so after having food. Instead take a light stroll, it will help stretching the muscles and also aid in digestion.
- Raise your head and chest while lying down
Yes, you guessed it right, this way the acids will stay where they are supposed to.
Avoid spicy, fried and fatty food. These may seem tasty, but they come with side effects. Such foods can cause acid reflux. Apart from these chocolate and items with caffeine also can trigger heart burn.
Wear loose clothing. Tight clothes can put more pressure on your tummy and increase your discomfort.
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How Can I Prevent Heartburn During Pregnancy
They say prevention is the best medicine, so knowing common heartburn triggers can help you keep the acid at bay.
Of course, pregnancy itself is a major trigger for heartburn. As your growing uterus puts pressure on your stomach, this pushes stomach acid up your throat.
Those lovely hormones are no help either. They tend to relax the valve between your stomach and esophagus, which makes it easier for acid to make its way upward.
While theres nothing you can do to stop this entirely, there are a few things that can help prevent heartburn from flaring up during pregnancy:
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Why Treat Heartburn And Acid Reflux During Pregnancy
Heartburn and acid reflux are traditionally considered innocuous because they are common in pregnancy and are usually self-limiting. However, a recent study suggests that GERD is associated with an increase in the severity of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy , which can have serious negative effects on a womans quality of life.10 In a prospective cohort study conducted by the Motherisk Program, 194 pregnant women with NVP and heartburn or acid reflux were compared with 188 pregnant women with NVP who did not have heartburn or acid reflux. The 2 groups were assessed for severity of NVP with the pregnancy-unique quantification of emesis and nausea score, which is a validated scoring tool based on frequency and duration of nausea, vomiting, and retching in the past 24 hours, with a high score indicating more severe NVP. Quality of life was measured by the well-being score, with 0 being the worst and 10 being the best. Forty-eight percent of women in the control group had severe NVP according to the PUQE, compared with 75% in the group with heartburn and acid reflux. The mean well-being score in the control group was significantly higher than that in the group with heartburn and acid reflux .11
Does Heartburn During Pregnancy Mean My Baby Will Be Born With Hair
Suffering from severe heartburn? You may want to stock up on baby shampoo. Research has backed up the superstition that, on average, the more heartburn you have during pregnancy, the more likely your baby will be born with a full head of hair.
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
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What Is Acid Reflux During Pregnancy
People use the terms heartburn and acid reflux to mean the same thing. But they have different definitions:
- Acid reflux refers to the LES not tightening as it should. This allows the stomach acid to travel from your stomach up to your esophagus.
- Heartburn, the feeling of pain or burning in your chest, is a symptom of acid reflux.
Women may have acid reflux during pregnancy and experience heartburn due to changing hormone levels and the baby growing.
What Causes Heartburn During Pregnancy
Causes of heartburn during pregnancy include:
- Hormone levels changing: Your hormone levels change during pregnancy, affecting how you tolerate and digest foods. The hormones often slow down your digestive system. Food moves slower, causing bloating and heartburn.
- Esophageal sphincter relaxing: Progesterone, known as the pregnancy hormone, can cause the lower esophageal sphincter to relax. When it relaxes, stomach acid can move up into the esophagus.
- Uterus enlarging: As your baby grows, your uterus gets bigger. It can crowd your stomach and push stomach acids upward, into your esophagus. Thats why heartburn is more common during the third trimester, the last few months of pregnancy. The baby and uterus are biggest then, crowding your other organs.
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What Medications Are Safe To Take During Pregnancy
However, it may be best to avoid magnesium during the last trimester of pregnancy. Magnesium could interfere with contractions during labor.
Most doctors recommend avoiding antacids that contain high levels of sodium. These antacids can lead to a buildup of fluid in the tissues.
You should also avoid any antacids that list aluminum on the label, as in aluminum hydroxide or aluminum carbonate. These antacids can lead to constipation.
Finally, stay away from medications like Alka-Seltzer that may contain aspirin.
Ask your doctor for the best option. If you find yourself downing bottles of antacids, your heartburn may have progressed to gastroesophageal acid reflux disease . In that case, you may need a stronger treatment.
Foods That Help With Heartburn During Pregnancy
There are certain foods that double as natural remedies for heartburn during pregnancy. Some of these home remedies for heartburn during pregnancy may work well for certain women but not for others. Find out what works best for you among these foods that help with heartburn during pregnancy.
- It is recommended to eat multiple small low-acid meals per day, and to avoid lying down during an hour of eating.
- Melons and bananas are good as they have low acid content.
- Fermented foods.
Foods that contain probiotics, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and tempeh, are incredibly beneficial for digestion. They are full of enzymes and they help to promote the secretion of digestive juices. This keeps things running smoothly and prevents problems like indigestion and heartburn.
- Green vegetables such as broccoli, beans.
- Bread, especially whole grain.
Safe Prescription Allergy Medications
- Singulair : Usage of montelukast during pregnancy for treatment of asthma does not appear to increase the risk of major birth defects.
- Allergy shots : Its considered safe to continue your allergy shots during pregnancy. Let your healthcare providers know that youre pregnant and they will carefully monitor your dosage.
Diet Nutrition And Lifestyle
What and how you eat can make all the difference with heartburn during pregnancy.
- Eating smaller meals throughout the day
- Making your main meal at lunchtime, which takes pressure off the digestive tract later in the day when the body is tired or ready for bed
- Avoiding food a couple hours before bed or a nap
- Sitting upright after eatinglying down can push stomach contents back up
- Propping your head up with a couple of pillows while sleeping
- Tight fitting clothes. They put even more pressure on your organs.
- Liquids while you eat. This dilutes your digestive juices, making them less effective.
- Eating the following aggravating acidic foods:
- Caffeinated and sugar beverages, like tea, coffee, soda, etc.
- Spicy, fatty, rich, and fried foods
- Large quantities of meat in one sittingthe body works harder if overloaded or too rich
Again, adding and subtracting certain foods and behaviors daily will help build a more balanced foundation for your wellness.
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Why Does Heartburn Startduring Pregnancy
Heartburn is very common during pregnancy especially during the third trimester. Heartburn affects 22% of women in the first trimester, 39% in the second and up to 72% in the last. This is because during pregnancy your body produces hormones that can slow down digestion and can cause the muscular valve between the oesophagus and the stomach to relax.
As a result, stomach acid is more likely to leak into the oesophagus and cause a burning pain in the chest and throat. The increasing pressure on your stomach as your baby grows can also force the acid into the oesophagus.
Dont worry, it does not harm the baby, but it can be extremely uncomfortable. Welcome relief can be found with Rennie which can be taken during pregnancy as long as it is taken according to the instructions*.
*Medicines can affect the unborn baby. Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medicine in pregnancy.