Why You Get Heartburn During Pregnancy—And 12 Ways to Soothe It

Progesterone, which is a hormone that relaxes the muscles during pregnancy, will also relax the stomach valve, keeping acid out of your esophagus. The growing uterus can also crowd the stomach, causing acid to enter the esophagus.

There are safe and effective ways to stop it. Adrienne Einarson RN assistant director of clinical services at Motherisk in Toronto, says that pregnant women don’t have to experience heartburn anymore. Motherisk is a program that studies the effects of prenatal exposures upon maternal and fetal health. Experts recommend 12 ways to (safely!) soothe heartburn. Heartburn relief during pregnancy


01 Eat smaller meals throughout the day


Why You Get Heartburn During Pregnancy—And 12 Ways to Soothe It

Morning sickness can be managed by eating small amounts at a time. If you have a healthy appetite, it is important to eat only enough to feel satisfied.

As it happens when you are not pregnant, a full stomach can cause heartburn. Try five to six smaller meals instead of three large meals per day.

02 Eat your food slowly

Eating too much can cause heartburn and indigestion. Relax and enjoy your meal. This will help you to avoid overeating.

03 Try not to chug liquids

Drinking a large glass of milk at dinner is not the best idea. Instead, it’s better to have liquids with meals. Drink beverages during meals, not between them.

04 Don’t lay down after a meal—sit or stand instead

Take a walk after eating, do some housework, then sit down to read a book. These activities can help to wash acid out of your esophagus.

05 Don’t eat right before bed

Joel Richter, MD, director of the Division of Nutrition and Gastroenterology at the University of South Florida in Tampa, has seen heartburn during pregnancy. He suggests that you avoid eating for three hours before going to bed. It is also a good idea to avoid liquids beginning a few hours before you go to bed.

06 Sleep with your head and chest elevated a bit

People suffering from acid reflux swear by their “bedges,” wedge-shaped pillows that gently tilt your upper body upwards. This helps keep stomach acid in its proper place.

  • Dr. Richter said that there is no need to spend a lot of money on a special product. These products can be purchased at places such as Bed, Bath, and Beyond for around $25, he said. The Boppy Pregnancy Wedge is our favorite ($16; Amazon.com).

07 Learn what causes heartburn for you—then avoid it

Heartburn is caused by excess fat, caffeine, chocolate, and citrus. Pregnant women who are experiencing it should avoid any of these substances at all. However, what triggers reflux in one woman may not be the same for another.

Dr. Richter advises pregnant women to avoid foods that can cause them discomfort, rather than telling them to avoid certain foods. Everybody’s different, Dr. Richter says. Pregnant women can enjoy spicy Mexican food or spaghetti and meatballs without any side effects.

08 Wear loose-fitting clothes

Tight clothing will only put additional pressure on an already-crammed stomach and can worsen acid reflux.

If you want to reduce heartburn, choose loose-fitting maternity clothes. The gorgeous HATCH maternity clothes are flattering for both pregnancy and postpartum.

09 Use ginger to soothe the burn

For some women, ginger–ginger ale and ginger candies such as Chili Ginger Chews can help relieve upset stomachs.

This spice can also be used to combat nausea and vomiting that often accompany heartburn.

Einarson states that ginger is safe to be consumed during pregnancy, even though there isn’t much scientific evidence.

10 Consider an antacid

If lifestyle changes don’t cut it, over-the-counter antacids may quell your heartburn symptoms.

Pregnancy is safe for antacids that contain calcium or magnesium. The extra calcium found in antacids such as Tums can be beneficial for both mom and baby.

Avoid aluminum-containing antacids as it can cause constipation, and even be toxic in high doses. Avoid sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), as it can cause swelling.

11 Discuss H2 blockers with your doctor.

It may be time for stronger medication if an anti-antacid doesn’t work.

An H2 blocker such as Tagamet and Zantac is your first choice. These drugs reduce stomach-acid production. The four H2 inhibitors currently on the market can be purchased without prescription. They are safe for use during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor before you take them.

Einarson says, “They really do work.” “You only need to take one or two per day.”

12 Or inquire about proton pump inhibitors

There are proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) that can be used if other medications fail to work. Prevacid is one example. These are more effective than H2 blockers in suppressing acid and many of them can be purchased over-the-counter.

Dr. Richter states that although PPIs are generally safe for pregnant women (and their babies), animal studies have raised concerns about the possibility of omeprazole (Prilosec), causing harm to a developing fetus. He says, “I would recommend to patients to avoid that one as there are approximately five to six other PPIs on the market with H2 blockers.” “All of them seem to be safe during pregnancy.”

Discuss any medication with your doctor.


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