Most pregnant women will experience heartburn at some point because progesterone, the hormone that relaxes muscles during pregnancy, also relaxes the stomach valve that keeps acid out of the esophagus. Furthermore, as the uterus grows, it crowds the stomach, forcing acid into the esophagus.
However, there are safe and effective ways to stop it. Pregnant women no longer have to suffer from heartburn. Here are 12 different ways to (safely!) relieve pregnancy heartburn.
1. Eat smaller portions
If you have morning sickness, eating a little at a time is probably not a problem for you. However, if your appetite is healthy, avoid eating until you are full.
An overly stuffed stomach, just like it does when you’re not pregnant, can contribute to heartburn. Try five or six smaller meals per day instead of three large ones.
2. Eat your food slowly
Bolting food can also cause heartburn and indigestion. Relaxing and enjoying your meals will help you avoid overeating.
3. Don’t drink fluids during meals
Rather than drinking a large glass of milk with dinner, you might be better off sipping liquids throughout the meal. Drink beverages between meals rather than during them to get the majority of your fluid intake.
4. Don’t lay down after a meal
Take a leisurely walk after dinner, do some housework, sit down and read a book—just don’t lie down or do anything that requires you to bend over. Both of these activities can aid in the removal of acid from your esophagus.
5. Don’t eat right before bed
A hearty meal followed by a nap is a recipe for heartburn. You should also try to avoid liquids a few hours before going to bed.
6. Sleep with your head and chest elevated a bit
Many acid reflux sufferers swear by “bedges,” which are wedge-shaped pillows that gently slant your upper body upwards to keep stomach acid where it belongs.
7. Learn what causes heartburn for you
Fat, caffeine, chocolate, and citrus have all been advised to pregnant women suffering from heartburn to avoid at some point. However, what causes reflux in one woman may not be a trigger in another.
Avoid foods that are known to aggravate heartburn. Everyone is unique. Some pregnant women can eat spicy Mexican food or a plate of spaghetti and meatballs without feeling ill.
8. Wear loose-fitting clothes
Wearing tight clothing will only add to the pressure on your already crammed abdomen and may worsen acid reflux. Choose loose-fitting maternity clothing, especially if you’re trying to avoid heartburn.
9. Use ginger to relieve the burn
Ginger—ginger ale or ginger candies, for example—helps some women relieve stomach upset. This spice can also help with nausea and vomiting, which often accompany heartburn.
Although there is little scientific evidence to support ginger as a pregnancy remedy, it is safe to consume while pregnant.
10. Try an antacid
If lifestyle changes do not relieve your heartburn symptoms, over-the-counter antacids may help.
Calcium or magnesium antacids should be safe to take during pregnancy. In fact, the extra calcium in antacids is beneficial to both mom and baby.
However, avoid aluminum-containing antacids because they can cause constipation and are toxic in high doses. Baking soda should also be avoided because it can cause swelling.
11. Discuss H2 blockers with your doctor
If an antacid isn’t working, it’s time to think about stronger medications. Your first choice will almost certainly be an H2 blocker. These medications reduce stomach acid production. All four H2 inhibitors currently available on the market are now available without a prescription and are thought to be safe during pregnancy. However, before taking them, consult your doctor.
12. Inquire about proton pump inhibitors
If other medications are ineffective, proton pump inhibitors are an option (PPIs). These have a stronger acid-blocking effect than H2 blockers and are usually available over the counter.
Although PPIs are generally safe for pregnant women, animal studies suggest that omeprazole may harm a developing fetus. Make sure to discuss any medications you are taking with your doctor.