Contrary to its name, heartburn or acid reflux has nothing to do with heart problems during pregnancy. Still, it is a condition that desperate many pregnant women. Heartburn happens when stomach acid moves up in your esophagus after eating. There are different reasons for this problem, and pregnancy is one of the indirect causes of excessive heartburn.
Acid reflux may continue throughout your pregnancy. It may even become more annoying as you reach the last months. This is when your belly gets bigger and puts more pressure on your stomach, so the possibility of heartburn increases. But don't worry, there are various solutions to this problem: from lifestyle changes to certain medications.
How Does Acid Reflux during Pregnancy Happen
Heartburn or acid reflux causes a burning sensation in the chest area. It occurs because the esophagus's muscular valve does not close completely. As a result, stomach acid can easily travel up in your esophagus.
Usually, heartburn happens when you have eaten a large meal or a heavy, oily one. It may occur when you lie down immediately after eating or bend over to fetch something from the floor.
In addition, as you go through the months of pregnancy, hormonal changes and the growing uterus that opens to accommodate the baby cause extra pressure on your stomach. Therefore, which pushes up the acid in your stomach.
Diet Adjustments to Treat Acid Reflux in Pregnancy
Despite everything said, you must know that every pregnancy and every pregnant woman's body is different. You can manage the acid reflux problem with simple home techniques. The best solution is to make some changes in your lifestyle and diet.
To prepare your daily food, read the diet guide for pregnant women. In general, some foods can trigger heartburn. These include chocolate, spicy foods, and acidic or fatty foods.
As for drinks, the healthier they are, the better, like homemade juice. Avoid drinking carbonated or caffeinated beverages.
Divide your food into smaller meals and eat them throughout the day.
The food you choose should be light. Avoid eating fatty foods that make your stomach heavy. Include fresh vegetables in your meals as much as possible.
Eat slowly and chew each bite.
Do not drink water or other drinks while eating. Drink water after you finish your meal and in between them.
After the meal
• If possible, go for a walk after eating. Taking a slow walk helps to digest food faster.
• If you have a habit of lying down immediately after eating, stop this habit. Sit or walk around for at least an hour after you eat. You can entertain yourself by washing the dishes, cleaning the table, or watching TV.
• In case of dinner, eat it a few hours before bed. Therefore, it is less possible that you wake up in the middle of the night due to the discomfort of heartburn.
• Use a pillow or wedge to better position your upper body and stop the acid reflux from happening.
• Maybe sleeping on your left side will help you to face less heartburn. Because when you sleep on your right side, your stomach stands higher than your esophagus and triggers the moving of acid reflux.
• Chewing gum (sugarless gums) after meals can be a way to increase saliva secretion and thus neutralize stomach acid. In fact, it helps your stomach contents get digested by your digestive enzymes.
You can make other changes in your lifestyle and habits as well. For example, eat a little yogurt or drink a glass of milk whenever you feel the initial heartburn symptoms. Try to maintain your weight at a certain level and get help from exercise. Such exercises include yoga, meditation, relaxation, and acupuncture.
Home Remedies for acid reflux during Pregnancy
Before going to the doctor and using prescribed drugs as a last resort for stomach acid problems, keep these methods in mind:
• Get help from ginger. One of the most helpful home remedies is using ginger. With its healing properties, this extraordinary plant can solve the problems of an upset stomach. Ginger, with its anti-inflammatory properties, prevents your stomach acid from rising.
• Eat almonds as a snack. Almonds are less acidic than other nuts, so munching a few almonds throughout the day can help ease stomach acid.
• Mixing milk with honey. If you use milk to deal with increased stomach acid, mixing a spoonful of honey in warm milk and then drinking it is a good idea.
• Get help from papaya and pineapple. Eating papaya and pineapple can help some women to solve the problem of acid reflux to a great extent. After having your meal, you can eat some pieces of these fruits to help digest food more efficiently.
• Do not wear tight clothes. If your clothes are tight, especially on the stomach, it will worsen your stomach acid reflux. So it is best to wear loose clothes.
Medicines to Ease Acid Reflux in Early Pregnancy
You already know that pregnant women need to be more cautious when taking medicine. Therefore, you cannot use all types of over-the-counter antacids.
For example, products such as Rolaids, Maalox, and Tums may help control your stomach acid levels. But antacids that contain sodium or aluminum may not be suitable for you.
Sodium may lead to maintaining fluid in tissues. And aluminum hydroxide and carbonate may cause constipation. Thus, be careful with consuming the first three items containing calcium carbonate or magnesium. It is so, especially if you are looking for a way to treat acid reflux during pregnancy's third trimester, as magnesium may interfere with contractions at labor time.
If you doubt choosing between the best available drug options, consult with your doctor. Also, if you still suffer from stomach acid reflux problems during pregnancy despite taking prescribed antacids regularly, be sure to talk to your doctor.
You may have gastroesophageal acid reflux disease (GERD). In this case, your stomach acid reflux has progressed, and you need to take more potent drugs.
Prevention is the best medicine, so if you are pregnant and are bothered by heartburn, it is good to revise your lifestyle and eating habits. Follow the suggestions mentioned in this article. You will probably find some ways to finally experience some heartburn relief. The changes in lifestyle and your diet will control acid production and prevent heartburn during pregnancy.
If your stomach acid reflux problem worsens or does not change after adjusting your lifestyle, you can take over-the-counter medications. Of course, you need to do this after seeking help from your doctor or midwife.