Oh, It Burns!
Just when you think things are getting better, it hits. Your nausea and morning sickness has finally faded, the round ligament pain is gone, you look pregnant enough that people don’t just wonder if you’ve been eating too much ice cream.
The the heartburn arrives.
Talk about insult to injury! You were finally feeling good again!
Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux, although the terms are often used interchangeably. During pregnancy, the growing uterus compresses the other internal organs, including the stomach. This can often push stomach acid up, towards the esophagus. The burning feeling behind your breastbone is the stomach acid making it’s way up, and is more common during pregnancy because of reduced stomach capacity.
While heartburn is a common complaint during pregnancy, that does not mean you need to endure it stoically. During pregnancy, heartburn can increase nausea, cause vomiting, cause sleeplessness and insomnia, and even cause you to reduce your food intake. For those reasons, minimizing or eliminating your heartburn is an important step in a healthy pregnancy.
Here are five ways to tackle heartburn:
1. Avoid trigger foods
Some foods are known to increase stomach acid and make heartburn worse. While some foods will be specific to the individual, others are common aggravators. Greasy foods, like fast food are common triggers for heartburn. Citrus and spicy foods, highly acidic foods like those with tomatoes, and carbonated or caffeinated beverages are also known to be culprits. Reducing or eliminating your intake of trigger foods can help to minimize heartburn.
2. Stay upright
That nap you like to take right after dinner? Hold off just a little bit. Staying upright for 20-30 minutes after a meal can help your food to settle and start to digest which can help keep stomach acid where it belongs. Bonus, this is good practice for when baby arrives since it is a common solution to helping reduce spit up in babies.
Over the counter treatment like Tums can reduce heartburn, especially if you are able to take one as soon as you feel the heartburn coming on. Tums is considered safe during pregnancy and may have the added benefit of helping you reach your calcium intake, which increases during pregnancy.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
Seems counter-intuitive right? Your entire chest is on fire, so you should drink vinegar? Weirdly enough, this is an extremely common suggestion in the pregnancy world, and people swear by it. We’ve seen two suggestions for taking it: the first is to just do a shot, the second is to mix ACV with honey and water and drink it down.
5. Prescription Medication
If your heartburn is not helped by any of the most common suggestions and it is making your life miserable, it is definitely time to talk to your care provider about bringing in the big guns. Your doctor can give you the go-ahead on over the counter medications like daily Zantac or Maalox, or might suggest something strong that is only available by prescription.
Remember, if you are taking any of these suggestions from 3 on, it is important to discuss whether or not these are right for you with your doctor or midwife. Not all treatments will be right for everyone.