August 28

How to Relieve and Manage Heartburn During Pregnancy

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How to Relieve and Manage Heartburn During Pregnancy

Most women can manage the usual discomforts of pregnancy, but the constant burning sensation of heartburn is unbearable for many women. Most women do not know that heartburn and acid reflux occurs in about 50% of pregnant women. This article will discuss how to relieve and manage heartburn during pregnancy.

Heartburn generally starts in the third trimester, but it can start earlier, especially if you already suffered from heartburn before pregnancy.

The primary cause of heartburn occurs when the LES (Lower Esophageal Sphincter), a tiny muscle meant to keep stomach acid where it belongs, allows the stomach’s contents to back up into the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the upper chest and throat.

What You Will Learn

  • Three reasons why you may get heartburn when you are pregnant
  • Fifteen ways to prevent heartburn during pregnancy
  • Eight ways you can relieve or minimize the effect of heartburn during pregnancy
  • Why you should avoid heartburn medication during pregnancy

3 Reasons for Heartburn During Pregnancy

  1. During the second and third trimesters, the growing uterus exerts continuous pressure on the stomach, causing pressure on the LES, forcing it to remain partially open, and allowing the stomach contents to back up into the esophagus.

  2. The hormone Progesterone is elevated during pregnancy; Progesterone causes the LES to relax, further increasing the chances that the additional pressure on the stomach will cause the stomach’s contents to back up into the esophagus, causing heartburn and acid reflux symptoms.

  3. The hormone Relaxin is responsible for loosening up the ligaments in the pelvis to make the birthing process more manageable. Unfortunately, Relaxin, combined with Progesterone, slows digestion, resulting in food remaining in the stomach longer than average, causing additional bloating, further increasing the pressure on the LES.

15 Ways to Prevent Heartburn During Pregnancy

Your best course of action will be to make a few lifestyle changes to reduce the chances that stomach acid will flow back into your esophagus and keep your heartburn under control.

  1. Avoid overeating. The most important tip is to eat small meals every 2 to 3 hours. This alone may be good enough to help keep heartburn from occurring. Eat 5 to 6 small meals instead of 2 to 3 large meals. Large meals cause additional pressure in the stomach, making it harder for the LES to do its job. Keep your meal size to about 1 1/2 cups of food per meal. Smaller meals are easier for your body to digest. Eat the largest meal for lunch rather than for dinner.

  2. Keep a close watch on what you eat. Avoid foods and drinks that cause stomach bloating, such as fried foods, fatty foods, and carbonated drinks. Avoiding these foods will prevent problems. Keep a food diary of what you have eaten that has caused heartburn.

  3. Avoid foods that irritate your Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES). These include anything with caffeine, chocolate, citrus fruits, tomatoes, mustard, peppermint products, processed meat, and spicy or highly seasoned foods. These foods irritate the LES and, when combined with the additional pressure exerted by the uterus, make it nearly impossible for the LES to keep the stomach contents from backing up into the esophagus. For more info, click more.
    Do not eat for at least three hours before bedtime. This includes liquids.

  4. Eat slower and chew your food thoroughly before swallowing. This aids in digestion so food is not sitting in your stomach longer than it should.

  5. Drink liquids between meals - do not drink while eating or just before eating; this includes water. Drinking liquids while eating can dilute your stomach acid, causing digestion to slow down and cause stomach distention, adding additional pressure to the LES.

  6. The way you sleep also plays a significant role in controlling acid reflux. Gravity is your friend. Stomach acid will have a much more difficult time rising uphill. Sleeping on a bed with an adjustable incline or that has had the head of the bed raised 10 to 15 degrees will help tremendously. A wedge pillow will also help if either of these two solutions is not feasible.
     
  7. Anatomically, sleep on your left side rather than your back or your right side if you can. Sleeping on your left side keeps the LES higher than the opening to the stomach, making it harder for stomach contents to bypass the LES. Sleeping on your back or right side has the opposite effect by putting the stomach opening either at the same level or higher than the esophagus, making it easy for stomach contents to move into your esophagus.

  8. Chewing gum after meals causes you to increase the secretion of saliva, aiding in the digestion of your food. The saliva will also soothe an irritated throat. Chewing gum for 30 minutes after meals or whenever you feel heartburn coming on may help alleviate this symptom. Avoid peppermint and spearmint flavored gums – these may irritate the LES making it more difficult to close tightly. Cinnamon-flavored gum has a soothing effect on the LES.

  9. Watch your posture. Bad posture can cause additional pressure on the LES, making it difficult to close properly or completely. Simply pulling your shoulders back and down will have a profound effect on preventing and relieving acid reflux. Keep your solar plexus perpendicular to the floor. While eating, make sure you remain seated with good posture. After eating, sit up straight in a chair or, better yet, stand up or go for a walk. Avoid doing anything that requires bending over.

  10. Keeping a food diary to determine what foods cause issues is a good idea. Record the food, the quantity, the time ingested, and the time when the heartburn began. Once you narrow it down to the foods that affect you, you can easily avoid these foods. Not all foods affect people the same. Be aware that sometimes individual foods won't trigger heartburn, but when combined with other foods ingested at the same time, they will.

  11. Avoid excessive weight gain (stay within the suggested limits) and wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing. Tight-fitting clothing can have the same effect as a bloated stomach.

  12. Do not eat large quantities of meat – overeating meat in one sitting can overtax the digestive system. This may indicate that you have low stomach acid.

  13. If you are taking an iron supplement, check with your doctor – some cause heartburn in some women.
    This seems obvious, but I’ll state it anyway – avoid first-hand or second-hand smoke; smoke irritates the LES. Do I need to mention alcohol? Alcohol also irritates the LES and causes it to relax.

8 Ways You Can Relieve or Minimize the Effects Of Heartburn During Pregnancy

  1. Drinking 2-3 ounces of purified Aloe Vera juice mixed with water can relieve irritation in the esophagus. It’s essential that the juice is purified, or it may cause diarrhea. Please don’t just grab an Aloe Vera plant and make juice from it.

  2. Some foods help soothe heartburn. You may wish to consume: Oatmeal, Ginger, Parsley, Celery, Salads, Bananas, and Melons. As with all foods, you will have to monitor the effects on your body since individuals vary.

  3. Mix 1 teaspoon Raw Apple Cider Vinegar in an 8-ounce glass of water. Sip it slowly before any meals that contain protein. It helps to speed up digestion by promoting the release of stomach acid and pepsin.

  4. Supplement with Betaine HCl and Pepsin before meals that contain protein. An article on this site explains how to determine how much Betaine HCl is safe to take. Check with your doctor before taking Betaine HCl.

  5. Add fresh lemon to your water – squeeze 1-2 fresh lemons into 8 ounces of water. Lemon juice helps balance low stomach acid and promotes quicker digestion. Drink it 30-minutes before eating. You may also add Manuka honey to improve the taste and soothe your throat.

  6. Eat pineapple, avocados, and bananas to improve digestion.

  7. Eat raw sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir to promote good bacteria, which support healthy digestion. These are good before a high-protein meal or before bed.

  8. A chiropractor can help with heartburn by adjusting the LES, moving it into a position that improves its ability to keep stomach contents in the stomach.

Avoid Antacid Medication If You Are Pregnant

Heartburn is caused by insufficient hydrochloric acid in your stomach to initiate the release of Pepsin and to digest your food. Taking so-called heartburn or acid reflux medication makes matters worse by reducing stomach acid and increasing the time it takes to digest your food.

Antacid medication will give instant relief, but the heartburn will continue to occur and will sometimes be worse than before. Only as a last resort should you take any antacid medication as directed by your doctor. The same goes for baking soda.

Possible Side Effects of Antacid Medication

  • Recent antacid studies have shown links between the medication and strokes, arterial damage, dementia, kidney disease, heart attacks, and asthma in newborns.
  • Some Antacid medication contains calcium carbonate – too much calcium carbonate can block iron absorption.

  • Some Antacid tablets contain aluminum hydroxide or aluminum carbonate, which can cause constipation and be toxic in large amounts.

Avoid Antacid Medication If You Are Pregnant

Heartburn is caused by insufficient hydrochloric acid in your stomach to initiate the release of Pepsin and to digest your food. Taking so-called heartburn or acid reflux medication makes matters worse by reducing stomach acid and increasing the time it takes to digest your food.

Antacid medication will give instant relief, but the heartburn will continue to occur and will sometimes be worse than before.

Only as a last resort should you take any antacid medication as directed by your doctor. The same goes for baking soda.

Possible Side Effects of Antacid Medication

  • Recent antacid studies have shown links between the medication and strokes, arterial damage, dementia, kidney disease, heart attacks, and asthma in newborns.

  • Some Antacid medication contains calcium carbonate – too much calcium carbonate can block iron absorption.

  • Some Antacid tablets contain aluminum hydroxide or aluminum carbonate, which can cause constipation and be toxic in large amounts.

Final Tip

The Anti-Heartburn Green Smoothie 

Ingredients*

  • ½ Head Spinach
  • ½ Bunch of Kale
  • 2 ounces of purified Aloe Vera juice
  • 1 Mango
  • ½ Cup Apple Juice
  • 1 Cup fresh strawberries
  • 1 Cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp of Manuka Honey
  • 1 cup Ice

Directions

  1. Combine all your ingredients in a blender with several ice cubes to thicken.
  2. Blend on High till blended

*Makes two to three servings.

Husband Kissing Pregnant Woman

SUMMARY

To summarize, prevention is your best bet to avoid heartburn during pregnancy.

  • There are several options available if you’re pregnant and have heartburn. Of course, not every suggestion will work for everyone but do not despair; something here will work for you.

  • Everyone is different; your body may respond better to one remedy than another.

  • Follow the eating tips and sleeping tips given above.

  • Do your best to find ways and means to provide relief for yourself.

  • Keep a food diary of what you ate and the time it was eaten, and record all incidences of heartburn.
     
  • Do your research or talk to your doctor.

  • The pain can be mitigated if you know what to do. You just need to find out what works for you, and it’s just a matter of paying attention to your body.

DISCLAIMER

The information contained here does not constitute medical advice and is not meant to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure disease. Please contact your doctor. The information provided is for informational purposes only and are solely the views of the author.

Low Stomach Acid is the Main Cause of Heartburn, Acid Reflux, and GERD

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