Heartburn is a painful, burning sensation in the lower part of the throat – most people describe it as underneath their chest bone and right below the collarbones. Right up there with morning sickness, it is one of the most common complaints during pregnancy, with up to 70% of expectant mothers experiencing it at some point.
It seems to get worse as the baby grows, pushing up on the stomach and causing its contents to occasionally spill into the esophagus. Certain foods or activities can make it worse. Pregnant women have enough aches and pains already to worry about, so here the top ten things you can do to to ease the pain.
1. Stay upright
Laying down flat and especially bending over does nothing to help this condition. When you lay down in bed, keep your head, neck, and shoulders propped up with a few pillows. You should also wait at least an hour after eating before you lay down.
2. Get out the Tums.
Especially in the last trimester, antacids are live-savers for mom-to-be. For the last two trimesters, look for the ones that contain calcium carbonate – they are safe and easy to take. Don’t take more than the directed amount per day, however. Always let your doctor know what medications you are taking, and tell him/her if you think you need something stronger.
3. Avoid food triggers
The foods most commonly known to cause heartburn are acidic foods like citrus. Spicy food can also be one of the worst aggravators – beware the chili! Other “dangerous” foods include: tomato sauce (spaghetti and pizza), caffeinated beverages (coffee, soda), chocolate, high-fat meats, garlic, and milk.
4. Eliminate big meals
Big meals can cause heartburn simply because there is more food in the stomach than there is room for. Eat several small meals throughout the day, and eat them slowly. If you are still hungry after a small meal, wait 20 minutes, then have a snack.
5. Don’t gulp your water
Pregnant women should drink at least 64-80 ounces of water per day to stay hydrated and keep up with her baby’s constantly cycling amniotic fluid. Having a few sips can ease the burn and calm your stomach. However, drinking too much too quickly can do the opposite, especially if you’re already experiencing symptoms.
6. Get some gum
Chewing on a sour piece of gum (or anything sour) increases your saliva production. Saliva is a natural heartburn remedy, and it dilutes and flushes out any excess acid building up.
7. Cut out the stress
It’s been said that too much stress can cause your heartburn symptoms to get worse. Try to relax, and your stomach may follow suit.
8. Home remedies
Some work, and some only work via the placebo effect. Some of the more proven methods include a teaspoon of straight vinegar, a small glass of pear juice, a few sips of pickle juice, and papayas.
9. Don’t snack at bedtime
Especially if your heartburn symptoms are at their worse at nighttime, avoid a big dinner or snacks 2-3 hours before you hit the hay. It’s definitely not fun to wake up in the middle of the night with bad heartburn.
10. Get your fiber
There has been studies indicating that people who have a high-fiber diet experience less symptoms. Foods that are high in fiber include whole grains, beans, peas, broccoli, and apples.
If none of the above proves effective enough for you, your doctor may be able to prescribe a medication that will bring you relief. If your heartburn symptoms are accompanied by vomiting, wheezing, diarrhea, or weight loss, you should talk to your doctor immediately.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.