Pregnancy heartburn – what is it?
How can you tackle it?
Whichever place in the world we reside, for us women pregnancy is a whole new world. Isn’t it?
Congratulations, if you are pregnant, as today I am going to deal with one of the most common pregnancy symptom – heartburn. If you have already started experiencing this symptom, don’t worry you are not alone.
Heartburn and indigestion
In the first place, let me tell you that “heartburn” or “indigestion” is a nothing-to-worry-about symptom of pregnancy.
Indigestion, medically termed as dyspepsia causes the burning sensation that you feel inside your stomach or under the ribs. Indigestion usually starts from the second trimester and sneak at its peak in the third trimester when your stomach stretches up to the chest, making room for the growing baby. In short, heartburn is a symptom of indigestion.
The probability of indigestion-free pregnancy is meagre and mostly everyone has to pass through this pregnancy symptom.
During my pregnancy days, towards the second trimester, I had always felt a fire-spitting dragon within me, as always acid squirts from my stomach and chest. I usually wake up at night very frequently and take a gulp of Gaviscon. I was so impatient to try out my grandma’s natural remedies at that time.
What causes indigestion?
Hormones and pregnancy remain so stuck to each other. You have been heard of a pregnancy hormone progesterone. The main function of this hormone is muscle relaxation and making a conceived lady ready and strong for obstetrical delivery.
The unpleasant thing is that these hormones don’t stick to pelvic muscle alone but relax all our muscles. Thus, the digestive system valve that block digestive acidic juices entering into the esophagus are relaxed, resulting in improper and slower digestion. This leads to digestive acids flow upwards to the mouth.
Admittedly, indigestion brings lots of discomfort to us, but the good news is that the baby will not be affected.
During pregnancy, even the stomach starts secreting less amount of pepsins and hydrochloric acids.
The slowing down process in the digestive system happens all for a purpose. This gives more time for the absorption of nutrients into the blood stream, then to the placenta and finally to your baby.
Heartburn- the main symptom of indigestion
Heartburn is the burning feeling one could sense in the chest and a sour taste in the mouth after taking food. The perpetrator here is the digestive acidic juices. When the valve at the bottom of the digestive pipe is relaxed, acid flow upwards causing burning feeling in the chest.
What else does indigestion cause (apart from heartburn)?
Apart from heartburn, the following symptoms also occur in case of indigestion.
- Burping – release of gas from the stomach through mouth
- Bloating – stomach full feel after food
- Flatulence – release of gas from the stomach through anal sphincter
- Abdominal pain – pain in the stomach
- Vomiting – throwing up of stomach contents
All these symptoms appear habitually at the third trimester stage of pregnancy as you and your baby gets bigger. These symptoms generally go away with or without medications.
Things that worsen indigestion and gives rise to pregnancy heartburn
Now let us look at what makes indigestion worse and thereby give rise to a bad case of pregnancy heartburn.
- Certain food items – The checklist is given towards the end of the article
- Being overweight – Having a body weight that is higher than recommended
- Stress – When you are more stressed, you become more sensitive towards the digestive juices
- GERD – Gastro esophageal reflux disease, a long-term digestive disorder
- Hiatal hernia – It’s a condition when a portion of stomach pushes up into the chest through hiatus (opening in the diaphragm)
- Peptic ulcers – Sores developed on the lining of stomach, intestine and esophagus
- Gallstones – Stones formed in the gall bladder
- Smoking – It leads to muscle relaxation in the esophagus and stomach
- Alcohol – This will increase production of acids in the stomach
- Certain medicines – It affects the digestive tract and causes irritation
How to ease pregnancy heartburn?
Undoubtedly, there are few difficulties we have to go through the pregnancy days. But we can’t stop all these natural happenings of pregnancy.
So, what can we do to prevent it?
One’s diet and lifestyle plays a major role in any health-related issues.
Before pregnancy, I go out to eat more often in almost all the lip smacking fast food restaurants in my city. I am just wondering how I made all the difference in my food habits during pregnancy and after that.
I can tell, pregnancy is like a magical spell that instilled healthy eating habits in me. While there are many ways to ease heartburn during pregnancy- here is my top tip.
Graze like a cow and chew like a cow.
Eat smaller meals all throughout the day. We often leave out chewing foods properly. At least during your pregnancy period, take more time to chew your food and don’t ever swallow it. In this way, you are helping your stomach for easier digestion. Enjoy it now- once the baby comes, you won’t have the time or energy to chew. (Just kidding).
15 Foods you can have to soothe pregnancy heartburn
If your heartburn and indigestion is not so severe, and you feel that you can relieve it by all going natural, here are few effective natural and safe remedies. Include these food items in your diet. It is healthy and it’s your third trimester – both you and your baby will benefit from it!
If one remedy work effectively for a person, it doesn’t mean it will work out for everyone. So, if one particular home remedy not giving you any relief try the other options.
#1. Apples – An apple a day keeps your heartburn away!
The excess acidic environment created in your stomach can be neutralized by the natural enzymes present in apples.
Consume cold sweet red apples to get quick relief, if you suffer from heartburn. You can also drink fresh apple juice with honey before going to bed.
This is one of the good natural remedy for heartburn during pregnancy.
Try two or three organic almonds after a meal. Don’t over eat this nuts.
Include avocados in your pregnancy diet to balance the acid in your body.
Natural antacids are present abundantly in bananas that can neutralize the acidity in stomach. Consume well ripened bananas one daily after lunch.
#5. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are one of the highly alkalizing veggie. It helps to restore the pH in the stomach. Include this in your diet.
#6. Leafy vegetables
Leafy vegetables are also alkaline in nature and help to neutralize acids. Include leafy vegetables daily in your diet.
#7. Yellow Mustard
The vinegar content in mustard helps faster digestion and halt surplus acid production in stomach. Take organic yellow mustard with buttermilk or sip small amounts of tea prepared using yellow mustard.
#8. Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits such as lemons and oranges which are acidic, change to alkaline in nature once consumed. These fruits keep the acids in your stomach neutralized. So sip citrus fruit juices in small amounts.
Garlic is rich in a compound known as allicin. Allicin helps in heartburn. So, try to include garlics in your diet.
Ginger is the first thing comes to my mind for heartburn. It has that property of soothing the heartburn, nausea and vomiting.
You can prepare ginger tea with honey or sugar and sip after meals.
#11. Fennel seeds
You may be knowing about gripe water which is used for infantile colic. Fennel seeds is one of the main ingredient in the gripe water.
Fennel seeds has been used traditionally for digestive problems. They are found to be very effective and give a soothing effect for heartburn. Usually, in most of the Indian restaurants they offer fennel seeds coated with sugar after meals. This is for easy digestion and to avoid heartburn. You can get the benefits of this seed by sipping small amounts of herbal fennel tea. Make sure your fennel tea has cooled before drinking.
However, while it’s considered safe when taken along with foods, there are also reports that it will interfere with certain medications. So, take opinion from your gynae before taking fennel seeds.
Milk is alkaline because of the presence of calcium. So consuming milk will help to neutralize the acids in stomach. Cow’s milk is the best. Take warm or cold milk with organic honey.
Don’t take milk in large quantities. As milk contains excess amounts of fat, it can also stimulate acid production inside the stomach.
#13. Fermented Foods
Fermented foods contain enzymes and good bacteria which are very easy for your stomach to digest.
Yoghurt with its cool and probiotic effect is considered to be very good for indigestion. But some moms feel that yoghurt sometimes aggravates the heartburn. So always take in small helpings.
Another fermented and healthy food is idli. You can take idlis for dinner.
#14. Coconut Water
Coconut water, is a natural neutralizer for the digestive acids, a quick relief from heartburn. Sip the delicious water in small amounts 2-4 times a day, in between meals.
#15. Plain water
If you don’t want to try any of those remedies mentioned above, sip plain water occasionally.
Checklist of foods to avoid in your daily diet
I have mentioned earlier certain foods will alleviate the pregnancy symptoms – indigestion and heartburn. The same sort of food which causes indigestion causes heartburn too.
Unfortunately, pregnancy heartburn is the worst in the last trimester. So, the best way is to completely staying away from those foods – even if it is your favorite.
The list is as follows:
- Caffeinated beverages like tea and coffee
- Carbonated drinks
- Tomato and store bought tomato products
- Spicy foods
- Greasy foods
- Deep fried foods
- Fast foods from restaurants
- Large quantities of food
- Large quantities of water while eating
A sample diet plan to keep pregnancy heartburn away
This is the good list, for it tells you all about what you can eat.
- One portion of fibre and iron rich foods – include green leafy vegetables, prunes, dates
- Two portions of protein daily from foods such as pulses, egg or meat
- Three portions of milk or dairy products daily
- Four portions of carbohydrates from foods such as cereals, whole-wheat bread or potatoes
- Five portions of fruits or veggies
- Healthy fat intake from foods such as avocado, nuts or fish
- Water intake 6-7 glasses of water daily
- A big no to caffeine and alcohol intake
Can you take OTC medications for indigestion and pregnancy heartburn?
There are a few over-the-counter medications that are considered safe during pregnancy. One of the most commonly used antacid is Gaviscon. It is available both in tablet and liquid form. This medicine neutralizes the digestive acids produced in our stomach.
I used Gaviscon and Ranitidine throughout my pregnancy. Gaviscon was my saviour. I used Gviscon syrup 4-5 times a day before meals and bedtime. But don’t take antacids and iron supplements together as the antacid hinders the iron absorption.
If you feel that natural remedies are not working, you can have OTC medications – as long as you gynae says it is OK to do so. So, I recommend that you talk to your doctor before taking any pills/ medications.
Also, make sure you stick to the recommended dosage. If you do not get any respite, let your doctor know.
- Is Indigestion during Pregnancy Normal – A Complete Guide
- Home Remedies to Keep Heartburn During Pregnancy at Bay
- 9th Month of Pregnancy
- Bag for the hospital – Must haves + Preparation in 7th/8th month
Everyone’s pregnancy is different. If your indigestion is not settling even after taking home remedies or medications, then there is something else to blame. So, talk to your gynae for diagnosis and treatment.
The only effective medicine for this is to deliver the baby, that’s the way I felt! How about you?
Did you experience pregnancy heartburn? If yes, share with us in the comments below what relieved your indigestion and heartburn problems during pregnancy?