Pregnancy comes with numerous gastrointestinal issues and one of the most common is heartburn. Studies show that the frequency of heartburn can increase from 22 percent during the first trimester, up to 40 percent during the 2nd trimester and more than 60 percent during the 3rd trimester. Although this condition has nothing to do with the heart, it causes an uncomfortable burning sensation in the central part of the chest. During my first pregnancy, I suffered from persistent heartburn but with home-based remedies, I was able to cope just fine.
Possible Causes of Heartburns During Pregnancy
Generally, heartburns happen when the valve that’s found between the esophagus and stomach is unable to control reverse acid reflux to the esophagus. But during pregnancy, the progesterone hormone causes this valve to relax which leads to frequent heartburns. However, this condition can be managed using simple home-based remedies.
How to Alleviate Heartburn
Expectant women with healthy pregnancies can still experience heartburns from time to time. In most instances, natural remedies may be used to provide relief. Personally, home-based remedies came in handy for me. Some of the best remedies for heartburn that I found helpful include:
1. Lemon Water
Lemon is considered one of the miracle fruits produced by Mother Nature. Lemon juice helps to enhance the production of bile and other digestive juices. This helps to aid digestion and regulate the level of the stomach’s acidity.
To make an effective solution, I used to squeeze a piece of lemon and add the juice to a glass of water which I’d sip intermittently. You can also add less than a spoonful of honey to make the solution more palatable.
2. Aloe Vera
This was also one of my favorite. What I love about Aloe Vera is that it involves topical application. This herbal extract has lots of benefits including treating gastrointestinal issues. Aloe Vera can provide relief in case you are experiencing heartburn. All you need is to apply the gel on your throat and chest.
This is a great additive especially in green tea and it has an amazing taste. Being a tea lover, not only did it make drinking my favorite cup of chai tea enjoyable, but I also ended up with reduced heartburn symptoms. Ginger has anti-inflammation that help to soothe the digestive tract and ease discomforts. To use it, place a thin slice of raw ginger in hot water and let it steep for 5 minutes. Consume the solution in moderation to alleviate heartburn.
Note: ginger water shouldn’t be taken frequently. This is because it can cause contractions.
4. Pickle Juice
What I love about this liquid is that it’s filled with a myriad of healthy enzymes. In addition to that, it is highly acid. Ingesting this juice in moderate doses can help to normalize the level of stomach acid and lead to better digestion. The impact of this is a reduced intensity of heartburn.
The benefits of water are unlimited. Staying hydrated is important for digestive health and it helps to neutralize the stomach’s acidity. To ease heartburn, take frequent and small amounts of water.
Note: do not gulp down large amounts of water. This can easily increase your chances of suffering from heartburn. High water intake makes the digestive tract full causing reflux of acid back to the esophagus.
How to Prevent Heartburn during Pregnancy
Heartburn can be prevented in order to reduce the likelihood of the baby getting affected. As a mom with several kids, I have experienced heartburn in nearly all my pregnancies. But I learned along the way that prevention is actually better than treatment. Some of the prevention techniques that I have used and proved effective include:
- Eating multiple small meals daily instead of the usual 3 large ones.
- Eating slowly.
- Drinking less fluids while eating. Taking large amounts of liquids during meals can cause acid reflux resulting in heartburn.
- Avoiding triggers such as spicy foods, fizzy drinks, alcohol, tomatoes, fat-rich foods, smoking, mustard, and fried foods.
- Keeping the head at a higher level than the rest of the body.
- Wearing clothes that are loose. Note that clothes that are tight-fitting can increase the level of pressure on the abdominal area.
Check Your Diet
There are multiple types of food that can trigger heartburns. Conversely, there are others that can help soothe the digestive tract. They reduce the chances of inflammation and acid reflux. If you are a pregnant woman who is constantly experiencing heartburns, your diet should contain:
- Fennel seeds such as ginger but in moderation.
- Fermented foods that are filled with good bacteria and enzymes.
When to Get Professional Help
Sometimes all the above-mentioned remedies can prove to be ineffective. There are times when I had to purchase over-the-counter antacids. So, if your heartburn is persistent or severe then you need to seek professional help. Treatment options include antacids or a combination of antacids and alginic acid.
Most women experience heartburns during pregnancy because of hormonal changes. Additionally, the baby is growing and they are taking up lots of space. The acid reflux can also occur as a result of reduced digestive space because some organs are compressed. To be on the safe side, take all the necessary precautions. I know that stress can also trigger heartburn. Relax and avoid overthinking because everything will eventually fall into place the way they are supposed to be.