What Is Acid Reflux During Pregnancy
People use the terms heartburn and acid reflux to mean the same thing. But they have different definitions:
- Acid reflux refers to the LES not tightening as it should. This allows the stomach acid to travel from your stomach up to your esophagus.
- Heartburn, the feeling of pain or burning in your chest, is a symptom of acid reflux.
Women may have acid reflux during pregnancy and experience heartburn due to changing hormone levels and the baby growing.
What Causes Heartburn During Pregnancy
Causes of heartburn during pregnancy include:
- Hormone levels changing: Your hormone levels change during pregnancy, affecting how you tolerate and digest foods. The hormones often slow down your digestive system. Food moves slower, causing bloating and heartburn.
- Esophageal sphincter relaxing: Progesterone, known as the pregnancy hormone, can cause the lower esophageal sphincter to relax. When it relaxes, stomach acid can move up into the esophagus.
- Uterus enlarging: As your baby grows, your uterus gets bigger. It can crowd your stomach and push stomach acids upward, into your esophagus. Thats why heartburn is more common during the third trimester, the last few months of pregnancy. The baby and uterus are biggest then, crowding your other organs.
Foods That Cause Heartburn During Pregnancy
Carrying an embryo inside and nurturing it until it turns to a fully developed baby is indeed an arduous task. Along with emotional and hormonal changes within, there are many physical changes that a pregnant woman goes through as well.
While the external changes are most noticeable to others around you include a protruding belly, swollen ankles or glowing face, internal changes include an excessive urge to pee, tender breasts, and heartburn.
This article will tell you about the foods that cause heartburn during pregnancy.
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When Should I Call My Healthcare Provider About Heartburn During Pregnancy
If heartburn isnt going away, talk to your provider. They can prescribe medications that are safe to take while pregnant.
You should also call your provider if you:
- Have heartburn that wakes you up at night.
- Have trouble swallowing.
- Have black poop.
- Are losing weight.
Heartburn can have similar symptoms to a heart attack. If youve never had heartburn before and youre having chest pains, call your provider or head to the nearest ER.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Heartburn during pregnancy is a common pregnancy symptom, especially in the third trimester. You can prevent or get relief from heartburn during pregnancy by making a few changes to your diet, like eating more frequent but smaller meals and avoiding spicy or fried foods. Some yogurt or milk may also help relieve symptoms. Before you take antacids, be sure to check with your provider for the safest option to take during pregnancy.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/29/2021.
Indigestion And Heartburn In Pregnancy
Many women experience indigestion and heartburn while they are pregnant, which can be painful or uncomfortable. There are ways to help avoid or treat indigestion and heartburn, especially if it is mild. Sometimes the feeling of heartburn can be confused with a more serious condition called pre-eclampsia.
Indigestion, also called ‘dyspepsia’, is a feeling of pain or discomfort in the stomach . This mostly occurs after eating or drinking but can happen some time after.
If you have indigestion in the early stage of your pregnancy, this may be caused by changes in your hormone levels. In the second or third trimester, indigestion becomes more common and may be caused by your baby pushing up against your stomach. As many as 8 in 10 women may have indigestion during their pregnancy.
Symptoms of indigestion may include:
- reflux or regurgitation
- feeling heavy, bloated or full
- feeling sick
Heartburn is a burning pain in the throat or chest, behind the breastbone, caused by stomach acid coming up the oesophagus and irritating the lining.
In pregnant women, indigestion and heartburn can be caused by:
- eating a big meal
- drinking fruit juice or caffeinated beverages
- doing physical activity soon after eating
- bending over
- feeling anxious
It’s a good idea to take note of the particular foods, drinks or activities that give you indigestion while you are pregnant.
Also Check: What Is A Quick Remedy For Heartburn
Should I Be Worried About Heartburn During Pregnancy
While heartburn isnt fun, it generally isnt a serious problem. However, pain in the abdomen or shoulder, which is sometimes mistaken for heartburn, can be a sign of preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication where the woman develops high blood pressure and signs of damage to the liver or kidneys, usually after 20 weeks. If your heartburn is sudden, doesnt go away, accompanies pain in the abdomen and up the back, and is really intense with severe pain, contact your health care provider or go to the hospital for emergency assessment, says Martin.
Can I Take Over
Nonprescription heartburn relievers, such as Tums® or Maalox®, can help you feel better. But talk to your healthcare provider before taking antacids. They may contain high sodium levels, which can cause you to retain water. Some also have aluminum in them, which isnt safe to consume during pregnancy. Your provider can recommend an antacid thats safe during pregnancy.
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Does Water Help With Acid Reflux During Pregnancy
Water can be a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to affecting GERD symptoms in pregnancy. Dr. Johnson notes that some women find that drinking water after a meal helps. It is thought that it may reduce the level of acidity in the stomach. However, Dr. Ross suggests saving the water for non-meal times, as drinking large amounts while eating may fill up the stomach and increase the risk of acid reflux and heartburn.
Because stomach volume is reduced due to the growing uterus, consuming too much water can provoke GERD symptoms. Any extra water you drink can overwhelm the lower esophageal sphincter, causing uncomfortable symptoms. In other words, drink water in moderation, preferably after or between meals, to avoid provoking symptoms.
When Can I Expect Heartburn To End
Someday, scientists may very well invent a miracle medication that promises permanent pregnancy heartburn relief. Unfortunately, that hasnt happened yet.
So, if youre wondering how long you can expect to deal with heartburn while youre pregnant, it will probably be throughout your entire pregnancy.
However, just because theres no cure, that doesnt mean you cant find some relief in the meantime.
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What To Drink For Heartburn During Pregnancy
If youre wondering what to drink when expecting a baby and plagued by indigestion, there are many beverages that you can sip on throughout the day for relief.
- Milk. The alkaline composition of milk including cows milk and nut milks can provide immediate relief from heartburn. Just stay away from milk that is high in fat, as fatty foods can cause even worse heartburn.
- Coconut water. Coconut water is very high in electrolytes which promote pH balance and help to neutralize stomach acid.
- Herbal tea. Ginger, fennel, peppermint, and marshmallow root are all heartburn remedies that can be found in tea form. Sip on herbal tea in between meals to prevent or relieve heartburn.
- Water. Thats right good old water. Sip on it throughout the day to make sure that you stay hydrated so that your digestive system can work as efficiently as possible without any hitches in the form of indigestion.
Avoid beverages that may exacerbate symptoms include caffeinated drinks such as coffee or green, white and black tea, carbonated drinks, and acidic drinks such as orange juice.
What Are The Symptoms Of Heartburn During Pregnancy
The top way to identify heartburn during pregnancy is that burning sensation in your chest, thanks to the acid backup. But Dr. Gray says thats not the only sign of acid reflux.5 You could also experience:
- An acidic taste in your mouth or the back of your throat
- Slight cough or hoarseness due to acid affecting your vocal cords
- Worsening symptoms of burning or pain when lying down or bending over
- Painful or difficulty swallowing
Many pregnant people also report feeling nauseous, Dr. Gray adds, and some may even vomit as a result. Thats why heartburn can sometimes be mistaken for morning sickness, particularly in the first trimester.
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Listen To What Your Body Is Telling You
What you can eat during pregnancy is largely dependent on how certain foods make you feel. In your first trimester, you likely had aversions and foods that induced nausea just by looking at them. Now, certain foods may trigger heartburn. Fat, caffeine, chocolate, and citrus fruits are all common foods that cause heartburn during pregnancy. Know your triggers and stay away from them.
Is There A Remedy For Heartburn During Pregnancy
Im in my second trimester. No matter what I eat, I get heartburn. Is this normal? If so, what can I do to feel better?Cari
Heartburn which, despite its name, has nothing to do with the heart is a common pregnancy complaint.
Many pregnant women experience a burning sensation in the throat and chest when the stomach contents move back up into the esophagus . This may be because hormones cause the valve at the entrance to the stomach to relax so that it doesnt close properly, allowing acidic stomach contents to move upward into the esophagus, a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux , or acid reflux. It can get worse later in the pregnancy when the growing uterus presses upward on the stomach.
To help minimize the discomfort of heartburn:
- Steer clear of certain foods and drinks that can make it worse citrus spicy, fatty foods caffeine and carbonated drinks.
- Eat several small meals throughout the day.
- Take your time when eating.
- Drink fluids between not during meals.
- Avoid eating or drinking for 3 hours before bedtime.
- Resist the urge to lie down after meals.
- Elevate your head when sleeping.
- Talk to your doctor about medications that can safely be taken for heartburn during pregnancy.
Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MDDate reviewed: April 2014
Note: All information on KidsHealth is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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Why Use Coconut Water As Your Smoothie Base
I prefer to use coconut water over all other liquids as a base in my sons smoothie. Many studies suggest that it helps with digestion and reflux. Plus, using it as the liquid base not only adds health benefits, it will also act as a natural sweetener for the smoothies, so you wont have to add any refined sugars.
I usually like to buy Harmless coconut water because it is the purest one in the market. It is really the next best thing to drinking from a coconut. Other less expensive options that I think are good are Zico and 365 Everyday Value from Whole Foods.
You can also alternate and use almond milk, kefir , and/or coconut milk for your smoothie liquid base. At home, coconut water is what my kids like best for their smoothies.
Foods That Fight Pregnancy Heartburn
Pregnancy heartburn or acid reflux: whatever you call it, that uncomfortable, burning sensation and constant need to burp is one pregnancy symptom all moms-to-be could do without.
Towards the end of both of my pregnancies, I had persistent heartburn at night the minute my head hit the pillow. Id try to burp myself like a baby, hitting my back and my chest to try to relieve some of the pressure and prop my head up with pillows so I could get a few hours of shut-eye. Although it helped a bit, I was happy after I gave birth to no longer deal with it.
Approximately 30 to 50 percent of women will complain about pregnancy heartburn.
The reason is primarily pregnancy hormonesprogesterone and relaxinwhich cause the lower esophageal sphincter, or the muscles around the esophagus to relax and push food acids back up.
Eating alone can also cause acid reflux, so avoiding food two hours before bedtime is a good idea.
Triggers can vary between women but spicy foods, foods high in fat, and those that contain caffeine or citrus usually cause heartburn.
A good rule of thumb: stick to whole foods, plenty of fruits and vegetables and eat meals you make at home so you know exactly what youre eating. Here, 10 healthy foods that fight pregnancy heartburn.
Also Check: Foods That Help Heartburn And Acid Reflux
When To Get Medical Help
See your midwife or GP if you need help managing your symptoms or if changes to your diet and lifestyle do not work. They may recommend medicine to ease your symptoms.
You should also see your midwife or GP if you have any of the following:
- difficulty eating or keeping food down
- weight loss
- stomach pains
Your midwife or GP may ask about your symptoms and examine you by pressing gently on different areas of your chest and stomach to see whether it’s painful.
Opt For Natural Remedies To Avoid Heartburn During Pregnancy
As youve seen, there are natural remedies to combat the discomfort caused by heartburn during pregnancy.
If youre unable to find relief, its best to consult your obstetrician to evaluate the need to incorporate any medication.
Either way, always keep in mind that establishing healthy lifestyle habits is positive in all stages of life. Not only should you eat well, but also exercise frequently and get a good nights sleep.
Read Also: What To Eat To Ease Heartburn
Heres What Other Mamas Have To Say About Relieving Heartburn During Pregnancy Naturally
I asked the moms on my Facebook page about their go-to natural remedies for pregnancy heartburn, and here is a sample of their responses.
- Apple cider vinegar, pickle juice, digestive enzymes! Katie Keepman
- An apple in the morning and right before bed. Elsa Silva
- It may sound weird, but I would either drink a little pickle juice, or eat a spoonful of peanut butter and within about 5-10 minutes was gone. Jessica Fields
- Baking soda in a little bit of water helped! Was it gross? A little, but still more enjoyable than heartburn! Erin M. Strand
- Maybe not the healthiest, but I always had ginger snaps next to my bed. I ate one or two at night for the heartburn and another one or two in the morning for the nausea. Sarah Gilroy
- I didnt treat my heartburn with any natural remedies, but did learn that bad heartburn can often present itself as nausea/morning sickness! Women who experiences bad nausea/MS should consider your remedies as well! Renee Jillian
- So far, wearing hazelwood helps some. Not perfect, but helps a little. Susan Miller
- I had heard to eat a few green olives. So when a pregnant friend was needing relief, I suggested her to try itand it works!!! Shawna Beaubien
- Liquid slippery elm works instantly! Ashly Burke-Goike
How Does A Smoothie Help With Acid Reflux
If youre going for the obvious answer of smoothies are soothing, youre sort of right. Yes, these nutrient-packed drinks definitely help soothe aching throats- a common issue in those who suffer from acid reflux. However, if the answer was that simple, then you wouldnt need a special anti-reflux energizing & healing morning smoothie recipe. Any combination of fruits, veggies, and liquids would do, theoretically.
However, as well see in a moment, thats not really the case. Some ingredients can actually make reflux worse. If you really want to prevent and soothe it, you need to choose the right ingredients. Thats where the GERD diet comes in super handy.
Recommended Reading: Ways To Help Heartburn During Pregnancy
Learn What Causes Heartburn For Youthen Avoid It
Fat, caffeine, chocolate, citruspregnant women with heartburn have been advised to avoid all of the above at one time or another. But what causes reflux in one woman might not be a trigger for another.
Rather than tell his pregnant patients to avoid a specific food, Dr. Richter says he advises them to stay away from foods that specifically aggravate them. Everybody’s different, Dr. Richter says. Some pregnant women can chow down on spicy Mexican food or a plate of spaghetti and meatballs with no ill effects.
Avoid Big Meals At Night Or Late Night Eating
Make sure to have your last meal of the day at least 2-3 hours before bedtime. This would reduce stomach acid while allowing the stomach to partially empty the contents before sleeping. Large meals can put pressure on the stomach. Therefore, try to take 5-6 small meals a day rather than three big meals. Also avoid heavy meals post evening.
Also Check: Safe Heartburn Medicine For Pregnancy
Does Heartburn During Pregnancy Mean My Baby Will Be Born With Hair
Suffering from severe heartburn? You may want to stock up on baby shampoo. Research has backed up the superstition that, on average, the more heartburn you have during pregnancy, the more likely your baby will be born with a full head of hair.
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
Following Are The Reasons For Heartburn During Pregnancy:
2. Growing baby As the baby starts growing, the uterus also expands it somehow competes with the other organs to make some space. The stomach gets squeezed as soon as the uterus. So, this is the reason for heartburn.
3. Slowed digestion- Usually, the food you intake sticks in the stomach for a longer time than usual. As the digestion slows down and the stomach feels full for a bit prolonged, the chance of heartburn increases.
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