Many women experience heartburn for the first time during pregnancy. Why is that? Are there any safe forms of relieving heartburn pain?
One of the main pregnancy hormones is progesterone. It helps to relax the smooth muscle of the uterus and prevent contractions. It also has an effect of relaxing the valve (lower esophageal sphincter, LES) that separates the esophagus and the stomach, allowing gastric acids to creep up into the esophagus and create that oh-so familiar burning sensation.
The easiest and most trusted way to prevent heartburn is by trial and error. Recognize the foods that trigger the discomfort and avoid them! Often times, foods that cause heartburn include:
• Carbonated beverages
• Caffeine (which should be minimized/avoided during pregnancy anyway)
• Acidic foods (like citrus fruits, juices, tomatoes, mustard, vinegar)
• Processed meats
• Spicy foods
• Highly seasoned foods
• Fried, fatty foods
Another tip is to limit the size of your meals. Don’t overstuff! Eating smaller meals, and taking smaller bites (while chewing thoroughly) will help prevent overfilling of the stomach, and less acid production needed to breakdown the meal.
Allow a decent amount of time to digest before lying down. Gravity will help to keep the acids in your stomach and not in your esophagus. Also, babycenter.com says to try chewing a piece of gum after meals. The increase in saliva production helps to neutralize acids.
When it is time to fall asleep (and you are still feeling symptoms) it might help to keep yourself propped up so your head is above your stomach. Again, keep those contents where they belong.
For extra relief try Earth Mama Angel Baby Organic Heartburn Tea. This herbal, caffeine-free tea was specifically designed to cool pregnancy-associated heartburn in expecting mothers. (http://www.earthmamaangelbaby.com/heartburn-tea.html)
Hope this helps!
Claire is a twenty-three year old nursing student at Arizona State University interested in perinatal nursing. She currently teaches hatha yoga and lives in Tempe, AZ with her dog Bella.