Heartburn is a very common problem faced by most of the women during pregnancy. There are valid reasons regarding why pregnant women so often suffer from heartburn. The female hormone progesterone that increases in a pregnant woman’s body leads the muscles to relax in pregnancy. It also relaxes the stomach valve that has the function of keeping acid out of the esophagus. The burning sensation called heartburn extends from the lower throat to the bottom of the breastbone only when acid from your stomach is brought up into the oesophagus. Along with the relaxed stomach valve, the growing size of uterus too puts pressure on the stomach of a pregnant woman which also forces the acid up into the esophagus.
Best Ways to Get Rid of Heartburn when Pregnant
While we can always adopt one or more home remedies for heartburn during normal conditions, a pregnant woman has to be much more careful while dealing with her acid reflux problem. However, there are certain ways through which she can get rid of heartburn easily and without any harm to herself and her unborn child. These include some safe home remedies for heartburn too but the best way is to bring some lifestyle changes for those few pregnancy months regarding your food habits, as well as sleeping and moving habits.
1. Watch Your Food Habits during Pregnancy
many prenatal nutrition specialists are of the opinion that overeating leads to heartburn, more so when pregnant. Pregnancy leaves lesser space for your stomach to expand and thus you should be sensible about the size of our meals. Therefore have smaller frequent meals instead of three big meals a day. Your body can digest smaller meals are easily thus saving you from heartburn. Here are some food habits for you watch during pregnancy.
- Have small, frequent meals. For example, you may have 6-7 small meals rather than having only 3 big meals. Each meal should consist of no more than one and a half cups of food. Smaller meals also mean less time for acid to build up in your stomach because food neutralises stomach acid.
- Eat food and drinks that are easily digestible. Avoid rich, fatty or spicy dishes as well as chocolate. Citrus fruits or fruit juices as well as alcohol and coffee also lead to heartburn in some people.
- Take your food slowly. Relax while eating and enjoy every bite of yours. Don’t bolt down your food. It leads to heartburn as well as indigestion. In fact, chew solid foods slowly and extremely well till the time they are almost liquefied.
- Don’t eat right before you go to sleep at night. Have your last meal at least before three hours of your bedtime otherwise you may not get rid of heartburn.
2. Watch your Movements during Pregnancy
Especially after meals. You should not sleep right after a meal and this is not only for bedtime. During daytime too, do not right away lie down after having your meal. This will wash the acid back up into your esophagus leading to heartburn. Also do not bend over to do any work, this also sends acid up to your esophagus. Keep standing or sitting for sometime after a meal. Here are some activities that you can do after your meals.
- The best thing is to take a leisurely walk after meals.
- You may also do a little housework. However, don’t do any work that needs you to bend over.
- Or just sit down and enjoy reading a book.
3. Avoid Foods that Trigger Heartburn
This is very important and as such needs to be emphasized more. Having the right food in right manner is as important as not having those foods that you know by now that trigger your heartburn. If you don’t know yet, identify such foods that intensify your heartburn. These foods can be such that you never felt uneasy with when you were not pregnant. Keep a watch on your heartburn after eating any food and second time you get heartburn after having a food, banish it from your diet. While such trigger foods differ for each person, there are certain foods that usually lead to heartburn. Here is a list of such foods.
- Acidic foods like citrus fruits including such veggies as tomatoes
- Fried foods and spicy foods
- Carbonated beverages
- Alcohol. This, along with smoking, should anyway be banned during pregnancy.
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4. Have more Liquids during Pregnancy to Avoid Heartburn
Liquids move through your stomach rather quickly and thus do not easily cause heartburn. So, have nutritious drinks, including protein based drinks like milk and yogurt drinks etc. However, watch the amount of drinks at a time. Rather than having big glass of milk with dinner, you may like to sip smaller amounts of it between meals. Having most of your fluids between meals is a better option than having them during, meals.
- Have soups, smoothies, yogurt, milkshakes, protein shakes and puddings.
- Have milk and yogurt drinks. Full fat milk, however,may lead to heartburn. Goo for skimmed milk.
- Have nutritious drinks like coconut water.
- Herbal teas are good but explore well about the herbs you are taking as many of them may not be apt for consuming during pregnancy.
- However, don’t have lots of coffee or caffeinated tea that also lead to heartburn.
Try to avoid more of liquids beginning a few hours before bedtime as it may interrupt your sleep.
5. Sleep in Right Position to Avoid Heartburn during Pregnancy
Nighttime heartburn is a nightmare of its own kind for a pregnant woman, in fact, for anyone! While eating at least three hours before bedtime is one way to avoid this nighttime heartburn, you can take some special measures to sleep in just the right position to further eliminate all the chances of acid reflux at night because you and your baby needs restful sleep!
- Sleep in a propped-up position and for this you may use many pillows to keep your head raised. This position helps maintain gravity that in turn helps keep your stomach acids in control.
- You may also use wedge-shaped pillows to gently keep your upper body slanting upwards.
- If not, just place some blocks or books or any other thing under the legs of your bed’s head. I will keep the bed elevated along with your head and upper body.
- Sleep on your left side. This makes it difficult for stomach acid to go upwards into your esophagus.
- Always wear loose fitting clothes, not only when you sleep but during all your pregnancy period. Tight clothing put more pressure on your abdomen, and may worsen acid reflux. Loose-fitting maternity wear is one of the ways to keep heartburn out of scene.
Home Remedies to Get Rid of Heartburn during Pregnancy
After following all the above ways of life as mentioned in the previous section, if your heartburn still doesn’t go, you need to try some natural remedies. Here are some safe home remedies for heartburn during pregnancy.
1. Lemon Juice for Heartburn when Pregnant
A little lemon juice mixed with water can work wonders for your heartburn. Lemon help keep the acids in your stomach neutralized. It creates an alkaline-forming environment that protects you against acid reflux. You may even try lemonade. However, because lemon is citrus and citrus foods may trigger acidity, you need to first check whether this remedy works for you or not. The trick is to use only a little lemon juice. If that too gives you heartburn, stop having it and use some other remedy.
- Lemon- a small piece of it
- Water- 1/2 – 1 glass
- Cane sugar, preferably organic- small amount of it or as per your taste
- Squeeze out whatever small amount of juice you can from the piece of lemon.
- Add this with water.
- Stir in the sugar and mix well.
- Sip this in small amounts.
2. Ginger to get rid of Heartburn when Pregnant
Many pregnant women find ginger soothing when it comes to cure heartburn. It is in fact a folk remedy used in many countries, though in different forms to get rid of heartburn. Ayurveda and Chinese medicine, for example, use ginger a lot not only to treat heartburn for also to fight off nausea and vomiting that too are a concern for a pregnant woman along with heartburn.
Ways to have Ginger for Heartburn
- Make ginger tea by steeping a piece of fresh ginger in hot water. Add some sugar or honey to this and sip in between meals.
- Ginger ale can also be had but watch out for the soda content in it as it may give you heartburn. Homemade ginger ale can be made though.
- Ginger candies are also a good option.
3. Apple to get rid of Heartburn when Pregnant
If you suffer from night time heartburn, you can have red apples that are sweet. These apples help make an alkaline environment in your stomach so as to neutralize the excessive acids. Golden delicious apples may also be taken but avoid the tart apples as they may worsen your acid reflux.
- Have few slices of such red sweet apples before you go to bed.
- You may also have unsweetened applesauce
- Apple juice can also be taken.
4. Almonds to get rid of Heartburn when Pregnant
This is one of the best remedies for heartburn in pregnancy. Eat some almonds after every meal. They miraculously control your stomach acid. It seems that the natural oil in almond help neutralize your stomach juices.
Raw almond, preferably organic.
- Eat 3-4 raw almonds after each of your meals.
- In fact, have 3-4 of these nuts after anything you eat, even snacks and not only meals.
- However, do not exceed the amount of almonds as excessive almonds can in fact lead to heartburn. Just 3-4 of them are enough after your meals.
5. Aloe Vera to get rid of Heartburn when Pregnant
Aloe vera, as a normal remedy for heartburn is too good and it is safe for pregnant women too except when cautioned by doctor. The soothing and anti-inflammatory properties of aloe juice calms down your irritated and inflamed stomach. However, aloe juice has mild laxative effects too and its up to you to decide how much laxative ingredients can you tolerate, especially in pregnancy. In fact, the yellowish part of the aloe leaf is responsible for its laxative effects. If you want, you can yourself take out aloe juice at home to avoid this part of its leaf.
- Fresh aloe vera leaf- 1
- A knife
- Cut the top of the aloe vera leaf and strip off the green outside skin off it.
- You will be able to see the clear aloe having a yellowish tint on outside.
- Cut and strip off this yellowish outside, as much as you can.
- Now you are left with clear aloe gel.
- Take this out with the help of a spoon.
- You may mix this aloe juice with a cup of apple juice or any other juice or even with a cup water and have it.
6. Fennel Seeds to get rid of Heartburn when Pregnant
Fennel seeds contain various active ingredients including its volatile oil composed of such substances as fenchone, trans-anethole, limonene and a-pinene. All these components have a soothing effect on your stomach and prevent digestive disorders including heartburn. In India, people have this habit of chewing a few fennel seeds after meals. This saves them from indigestion and heartburn. The seeds of fennel herb are also safe for pregnant women when taken in smaller amounts.
Ways to have Fennel Seeds for Heartburn
- Chew few fennel seeds (about 1/4 tsp or even lesser than that) after every meal.
- Take 1-2 tsp of fennel seeds to make tea. Steep them in a cup of hot water for ten minutes and have it.
7. Coconut Water for Fast Relief from Heartburn
Coconut water, the clear water found in tender coconuts, is a natural acid neutralizer. When you drink this coconut water, it provides almost immediate and easy relief from heartburn and its is safe in pregnancy too. You just have to take out the water from tender coconut and sip the delicious nutrition rich water in small amounts, say 1/2 cup each time. Have it 3-4 times a day, in between meals.
8. Papaya Remedy for Heartburn in Pregnancy
The enzyme papain in papaya is a protein-dissolving enzyme that eases a number of stomach ailments including heartburn that has its roots in the stomach acid. Papaya is also a rich source of minerals and vitamins A, C and E which means that you not only relieve heartburn but also get much needed nutrition when you eat papaya in pregnancy. You may well make papaya juice with fresh ripe papaya. If you cant get fresh papaya in your area, get chewable papaya enzyme or even papaya capsules made with dried and ground papaya.
How to Make Papaya Juice?
- Fresh papaya pieces- from 1/4 of a medium papaya
- Sugar (optional)
- Place the papaya pieces in the blender.
- Add some water as per the required thickness of juice.
- Blend and take out the juice.
- Add sugar if using.
- Have a cup of this papaya juice in between meals or before bed time to relieve night time heartburn.
- You may even use milk in place of water to make a papaya shake and have it as daytime drink.
9. Apple Cider Vinegar for Heartburn in Pregnancy
There are two opinions regarding why apple cider vinegar is one of the best home remedies for heartburn. One of these theories say that the acetic acid in vinegar helps lower stomach acidity by increasing its pH. This happens because acetic acid is a weaker acid than hydrochloric acid present in the stomach. It is said that vinegar helps buffer and maintain stomach acid at an optimum pH level so that your stomach can effectively digest food but may cause less problems with the esophagus thus preventing heartburn. The second theory says that the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is also a pH sensitive valve. When there is insufficient acid present in the stomach, your LES valve frequently keeps opening up leading to acid reflux. You may have too little acid in your stomach due to various reasons. For example, in pregnancy, you put more effort to keep heartburn in check which might lower down the required amount of acid production in your stomach. In such a case when you drink apple cider vinegar, it provides sufficient acidity needed by the LES to function properly.
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- Apple cider vinegar- 2-3 teaspoons
- Water- 1 glass
- Add ACV to the glass of water.
- Ideally this needs to be taken before meals or whenever heartburn is experienced.
- However, because in pregnancy, it is recommended to take lesser amounts of fluid before or after meals, you may sip only a cup of this apple cider vinegar tonic along with your meal.
- You may also have it in batches in between meals.
10. Have Fermented Foods to Get Rid of Heartburn in Pregnancy
Many pregnant women report lacto-fermented pickles as the best remedy for their heartburn issue. This is in fact, a folk remedy too. Fermented foods help in properly digesting the food, and thus reduce heartburn. In fact, the beneficial bacteria present in fermented foods can make your stomach healthier over time. You can have these fermented foods or pickles with all your meals and even between your meals.
What Fermented Foods to have?
- Vegetables based fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles.
- Fermented condiments such as homemade mayonnaise, ketchup, salsa etc.
- Fermented drinks such as kefir, kombucha, water kefir soda and the like.
Precaution: Fermented foods sold in stores are usually pasteurized ones. This process kills off the beneficial bacteria. Therefore, its better to have homemade fermented foods or those that claim to have beneficial bacteria in them. You may, however, like to research a little and ensure whether what you are buying really have what it claims!
11. Yogurt for Heartburn in Pregnancy
Yogurt is perhaps one of the best foods that you can have in pregnancy to get rid of heartburn due to indigestion. This fermented food, yogurt has probiotics or the good bacteria in it and thus helps neutralize the acid in the Esophagus. Just have some yogurt, plain yogurt with your meals or in between meals. Remember, the sweetened or flavored yogurt worsen the condition of acid reflux. Thus, just stick to plain yogurt if you want to get rid of heartburn.
12. Drink Enough Water to Prevent Heartburn
Apart from taking the above measures, drink enough water to keep yourself hydrated because heartburn can actually be a sign of dehydration too. However, don’t drink much water during mealtime. This flushes off all the digestive juice from the stomach leading to indigestion. Also drinking more of fluids, as mentioned earlier, all at once can put further pressure on your stomach and the lower esophageal sphincter, causing heartburn.
If changing lifestyle habits and even the home remedies for heartburn don’t help you, you sure need to see your doctor and get the right antacid or other medicines to get rid of heartburn. However, taking medicines on your own in pregnancy can be risky, so do consult your doctor before taking any medicine or even before taking any herbs to get rid of heartburn in pregnancy!