‘Tis the season for eating, but for pregnant Mamas battling heartburn, mealtime can quickly turn into an uncomfortable — even painful — experience.
During the second half of pregnancy, many moms are plagued with heartburn (also called acid indigestion or acid reflux). Heartburn is characterized by a burning sensation experienced from the bottom of the breastbone to the lower throat.
While fairly harmless, it can be quite uncomfortable, and last until baby’s arrival. Here’s what you need to know to help relieve heartburn during pregnancy.
What causes heartburn during pregnancy?
There are a couple factors that cause acid reflux during pregnancy. First is a hormone called progesterone, which is produced by the placenta to relax the muscles of the uterus. Unfortunately, the hormone also relaxes the stomach valves that keeps acid out of the esophagus.
In addition, your ever-expanding uterus crowds the stomach, forcing acid into the esophagus.
Your heartburn may be worse if you’re pregnant with more than one baby, your baby is very large (macrosomia) or if its in a breech position.
“How do I prevent pregnancy heartburn?”
There are several tried-and-true ways to relieve heartburn while you’re expecting.
Eat small meals. Try five or six smaller meals a day to avoid stuffing yourself or becoming overly full.
Eat slowly. Relax and enjoy your meals. Scarfing down food too quickly can lead to heartburn and indigestion. Eating slowly will also help you avoid overeating, and give your stomach and brain time to register that you’re full.
Keep a food journal. Logging down what you eat and drink will help you identify heartburn triggers. For many, the usual culprits include caffeine, fatty, fried or spicy foods, chocolate, carbonated drink, tomatoes, vinegar, mustard and citrus.
Sip on liquids in between meals. Try sippin’ on fluids between meals, rather than while you’re eating. Drinking liquids while eating dilutes your digestive juices, making them less effective.
Chew gum after meals. Pop in a stick of gum after meals to cleanse your palette and help neutralized acid with your saliva.
Don’t lie down. After a meal, keep yourself propped up on the couch or get some housework done — anything but lying down. If you go horizontal, it increases the likelihood that acid will wash back up into your esophagus.
Avoid meals right before bedtime. For the reason above, give yourself three hours of buffer time between dinner and hitting the sack.
Prop yourself up as you sleep. To keep heartburn at bay, plop a couple pillows under your upper body as you sleep.
“Uh oh, too late. How do I help relieve pregnancy heartburn?”
Bust out the ginger. While there’s not much scientific proof behind it, many women swear by ginger for nausea, vomiting and upset tummies. Try an herbal tea for nausea (our Happy Mornings tea for morning sickness has the perfect kick of ginger), some fizzy gingerale or ginger candies.
Turn to milk or yogurt. The American Pregnancy Association recommends a tablespoon of honey in a glass of warm milk, as well.
Try an over-the-counter antacid. For heartburn sufferers, a bottle of Tums is a must-have. Antacids can give you an extra jolt of calcium, which is good for Mama and baby. Doctors advice staying away from antacids with aluminum or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).
If none of these solutions work, talk to your caregiver about exploring prescription heartburn medications.
Are you suffering from heartburn during your pregnancy? What are your triggers? How do you relieve your heartburn? Share below!