Home Remedies for Acid Reflux During Pregnancy
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Pregnancy is a unique journey for the mind and body. You may experience uncomfortable symptoms, like increased acid reflux.
Nearly half of expecting moms have heartburn at some point during their pregnancy. Let’s look at what causes it and how to treat symptoms to minimize your discomfort.
What Causes Pregnancy Heartburn?
Pregnant moms can thank hormonal changes for many unpleasant experiences while pregnant, heartburn included. The hormone progesterone is necessary for maintaining a healthy pregnancy, but it relaxes a muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which is responsible for separating the stomach from the esophagus. When the LES relaxes, stomach acid rises and causes heartburn.
Acid reflux symptoms can worsen as the fetus and uterus grow, putting pressure on your stomach and pushing its contents up through your esophagus. If you carry twins, triplets or more, you’ll experience additional pressure on your stomach, possibly leading to increased heartburn.
Food is a significant trigger for acid reflux. With your uterus putting increased pressure on your stomach, your stomach will have less room to expand, meaning large meals are likely to rise up your esophagus. Acidic, spicy or fried foods can aggravate heartburn, as can chocolate, coffee and carbonated drinks.
While staying hydrated is important, water does not always help acid reflux in pregnancy. Drinking too much while eating can increase your symptoms, so it’s best to drink in moderation between meals instead.
How Do I Treat Heartburn During Pregnancy?
While your heartburn may not end until after you’ve given birth, there are several steps you can do now to alleviate the symptoms:
- Drink low-fat milk: Milk can help acid reflux during pregnancy, especially when mixed with a bit of honey. Be sure to use low-fat, nonfat or plant-based options since fat can aggravate symptoms.
- Eat certain fruits: Bananas, pears and apples have antacid properties that can combat acid reflux. Avoid citrus fruits that can trigger heartburn, like oranges, lemons and grapefruit.
- Try ginger: Ginger reduces inflammation and prevents acid from rising. You can drink it as tea or suck on it as candy.
- Chew sugar-free gum: Gum can increase saliva to help fight acid. Choose a mint-free option, since mint can lead to increased symptoms.
- Munch on crackers: You’ll want to avoid spicy or acidic foods, and this mellow snack is a great alternative. It can help absorb excess acid.
- Grab a handful of almonds: Eating almonds can potentially reduce acid reflux since they have low acidity levels.
- Take approved medication: Check with your doctor before taking medication, but antacids with calcium, like Tums and Rolaids, are generally safe during pregnancy. Avoid medicines that contain aluminum or aspirin.
Preventing Heartburn During Pregnancy
You can create habits to help minimize heartburn during your pregnancy, like:
- Wearing loose clothing.
- Skipping food triggers.
- Staying upright after eating a meal for at least two hours.
- Propping up your head and upper body at night.
- Finishing eating at least three hours before bedtime.
- Eating small meals frequently instead of three large ones.
- Consuming more liquids, such as soups, smoothies and yogurt.
Does Acid Reflux Affect the Baby?
While acid reflux may be an uncomfortable experience, you can rest easy knowing your little one is safe and sound. A popular old wives’ tale claims the more heartburn you experience during pregnancy the more hair your baby will be born with, but there have been few studies to prove the correlation.
Your baby might experience negative side effects if you can’t get the nutritional and caloric intake you and your baby need due to severe acid reflux symptoms. If you are concerned about the impact heartburn has on your diet, contact your doctor.