Pregnancy brings a lot of changes in a woman’s body. Some of those changes are positive and welcome, but some are quite unpleasant and cause some discomfort. Heartburn is one of those negative occurrences in pregnancy, but fortunately there are remedies, many of them natural, to solve this problem.
Tips for heartburn in pregnancy
There are several things that can alleviate heartburn in pregnancy and reduce it. Many women have found that chewing gum after meals helps to prevent heartburn, which often occurs after eating.
Heartburn usually occurs after large meals. Therefore it is recommended to divide the food into more meals and to make them smaller. It is recommended to eat five or six small meals per day to reduce sudden bouts of heartburn in pregnancy. Also, meals just before bedtime should be avoided.
Certain foods and beverages are known for causing heartburn in everyone, not just in pregnant women. Such foods and beverages include sodas, coffee, alcohol (which is prohibited in pregnancy anyway); chocolate, acidic foods like oranges, tomatoes, spicy foods, greasy foods and processed meats. These foods are known for increasing the production of stomach acid. When the lower esophageal sphincter is weakened for some reason, the acid climbs up the esophagus from the stomach, causing symptoms of heartburn.
Fluids are very important, but it is not recommended to drink a lot at once, especially if lying down, as this can cause heartburn too.
There are many over-the-counter medications that are effective against heartburn, but it is very important to know which ones are suitable for pregnant and nursing women.
For example many antacids contain calcium and magnesium and they do provide relief for the heartburn, but some of them may contain Aspirin or aluminum, which are not allowed in pregnancy, so it is best to check with the physician before taking them.
Chewing antacids with calcium carbonate are allowed and they are very effective for pregnancy heartburn. Those with magnesium hydroxide or magnesium oxide are also good, and they come in tablets or in liquid form.
Pregnant women should also avoid sodium bicarbonate in any form. Even though sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda, brings almost instant relief for heartburn, pregnant women should not take it because sodium promotes water retention.
Acid reducers do not work if there is already too much acid in the stomach, so it is better to take them before meals. Some medications for heartburn combine acid reducers, like famotidine, and an antacid, like calcium carbonate or magnesium oxide. It is always important to carefully read the label, see if it lists aluminum or Aspirin, and to only take the recommended dosage.