You lie down to take a rest after a long day of growing a baby, and as soon as you recline UGH. Heartburn again! Although it’s common and is generally harmless, heartburn during pregnancy can be super uncomfortable!
Heartburn is a burning sensation that tends to come from the chest up into the lower throat (typically after eating), and it is actually caused by some of the hormonal changes in your body when you’re pregnant. During pregnancy, the placenta produces the hormone progesterone, which relaxes the smooth muscles of the uterus. This hormone also relaxes the valve that separates the esophagus from the stomach, allowing gastric acids to seep back up, which causes that unpleasant burning sensation.
Progesterone also slows down the wavelike contractions of your esophagus and intestines, making digestion sluggish. Later in pregnancy, your growing baby crowds your abdominal cavity, pushing the stomach acids back up into the esophagus. This is why heartburn tends to increase towards the end of pregnancy.
For most people, pregnancy heartburn doesn’t start until the second half of the pregnancy, so enjoy the burn-free feeling of the first trimester. And if you do experience some occasional heartburn as you progress, try some of these natural tips and remedies to help soothe heartburn during pregnancy.
5 Ways to Soothe Heartburn During Pregnancy
1. Eat small meals.
Instead of eating three big meals a day, split your meals up into smaller meals and snacks throughout the day. I generally eat about 4-5 times throughout the day and notice that this does help minimize my heartburn significantly since my stomach isn’t as full.
2. Chew gum.
It sounds crazy, but chewing gum stimulates your salivary glands, and saliva can help to neutralize the acid. So find some good sugar free gum (I love xylitol gum) and chew that after you eat. The minty fresh taste in your mouth may also help with pregnancy-related nausea. Win-win!
3. Stay upright.
Sleep propped up with several pillows–or my favorite, the snoogle, which has oh-so-many uses during pregnancy (see more of our favorite pregnancy pillows). And try to stay upright after meals as well. Elevating your upper body will help keep your stomach acids where they belong and will aid your digestion.
4. Avoid certain foods.
Trigger foods will be different for everyone when it comes to heartburn during pregnancy, but pay attention to how your body responds after eating certain foods and avoid anything that causes you gastrointestinal distress. The usual suspects are carbonated drinks; alcohol (which you should avoid anyway during pregnancy); caffeine; chocolate; acidic foods like citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes, mustard, and vinegar; processed meats; mint products; and spicy, highly seasoned, fried, or fatty foods.
5. Try over the counter relievers.
An over-the-counter antacid, like Rolaids that contains magnesium or calcium, may ease the discomfort but check with your prenatal caregiver before taking one because some brands contain aluminum or aspirin or are high in sodium. Also, consider trying papaya enzymes, which will help you to digest your food more quickly and avoid the situation in the first place.
Good luck, mama! I hope some of these tips help to relieve your heartburn during pregnancy!