Most pregnant women a burning sensation in the chest accompanied by pain in abdomen at some point of our life. Be it the spicy food or something that didn’t gel with your stomach, the stomach juices try to push themselves up through the esophagus leading to burning feeling, which is termed as heartburn. Sometimes, you can taste the food mixed with stomach acids at the back of throat or suffer from sore throat and cough too. This unpleasant feeling is more common during pregnancy which can be serious enough to cause cardiac arrest!
To understand pregnancy heartburn better, let’s first understand its mechanism:
Heartburn During Pregnancy
The esophagus or the food pipe through which the food reaches down the stomach has a set of tight muscles at its base which closes after the food has entered the stomach. This prevents the food from re-entering the esophagus. Now if there appears a problem with the closing mechanism of these muscles, i.e. they open and close at wrong time, then the food mixed with stomach juices can creep back to the esophagus resulting in acid reflux.
What Causes Heartburn During Pregnancy?
- Enlarged womb: The increase in size of womb pushes other organs further up the abdomen, thereby increasing abdominal pressure and inducing acid reflux
- Weakened sphincter muscles: The lower esophageal muscles responsible for preventing acid reflux may weaken during pregnancy. Nothing to worry, these come back to their original form after pregnancy
- Hormonal changes: The progesterone hormone may relax the sphincter muscles way too much allowing acid reflux
- Breech baby position: If your baby has breech position, i.e. buttock and feet first rather than head; this may further promote acid reflux and heartburn.
There are a number of antacids and other OTC medicines available in the market. But it is wise to avoid medicine preparations as much as one can during pregnancy. It should also be noted that many of these general medicines are not tested on the pregnant population. Therefore, it’s in the best interest of you and your baby’s health to find alternative natural remedies to cure such common ailments.
10 Natural Remedies For Heartburn During Pregnancy
Heartburn can be easily prevented by managing your diet intake and performing a few lifestyle changes. Below is a list of natural remedies to calm down heartburn and prevent its occurrence:
- Have frequent, small meals: Eating heavy meals can generally cause discomfort and contributes to acid reflux. The key is to eat smaller meals 4-5 times a day. This way your stomach will not feel full and minimizes the chance of pushing the food and acid up the food pipe
- Add these to your diet: Certain foodstuffs may help you relieve the symptoms of heartburn and adding these regularly to your diet will gradually lessen its incidence. Some of these include:
- Chew gum: Research suggests that chewing gum increase production of saliva which in turn aids digestion. You can even opt for sugarfree gums in your favorite flavor! Oh and chewing gum will exercise your jaws and keep your face slim too!
- Go easy on these foods: Some foods are capable of relaxing the lower esophageal muscles whereas simply create discomfort. This in turn leads to acid reflux. Therefore, try to avoid such foods, for instance:
- Spicy food
- Too much caffeine
- Fizzy drinks
- Extra sugary stuff
- Fried stuff
- Chew your food: We all heard about chewing the morsel 32 times and ignored it. Well, when you quickly gulp down the food without chewing it properly, you are not only swallowing air you are increasing the workload of your belly. Which in turn, contributes to indigestion
- Drink more fluids: Try to sip water throughout the day rather than gulping all at once. Avoid drinking too much water after meals since it dilutes digestive juices. Coconut water is another wonder fluid to include in your diet since it soothes stomach
- Sleeping position: It is generally advised to sleep with a slightly elevated mattress such that the torso is higher than the rest of your body to enable better breathing during pregnancy. This works wonders for those suffering from heartburn too. Since this position will prevent the acid from propping up towards the esophagus. Try raising the bed rather than propping pillows which can pose discomfort
- Give up smoking and alcohol: Smoking and alcohol are capable of interfering with the functioning of sphincter muscles responsible for keeping the food down in stomach. Its generally advised for health reasons of the baby to shun smoking and consuming alcohol during pregnancy
- Dress comfortably: Avoid wearing clothes which are tight around the torso. They restrict the movement and contribute to acid reflux. Also its advisable to wear breathable clothes because certain hot and spicy foods may cause sweating and unable to do so may cause uneasiness
- Do not lie down immediately after meals: If you immediately lie down after meals, the stomach contents can easily push up. Its best to sit upright for some time and if you must lie, make it the habit of lying on the left side
If your heartburn doesn’t eases even after weeks or if you vomited or have unbearable chest pain, then this denotes need for medical attention. It is equally important to live a happy and stress free life. Stress can also trigger heartburn, so take things easy and welcome each day with open arms!