When you have pregnancy heartburn, you have just one thing on your mind.
How do I get rid of this awful feeling?
Unfortunately, heartburn during pregnancy is extremely common, even among women who never had heartburn before. Researchers estimate that around 45 percent of pregnant women experience heartburn.
That awful feeling burning through your digestive system can make it difficult to do just about anything–eat, sleep, concentrate, move.
We feel your pain.
Fortunately, you can do a few things to combat pregnancy heartburn. But first, let’s take a closer look at why it’s so common among pregnant women.
What is Heartburn, and Why is It Common During Pregnancy?
The name “heartburn” is misleading because it doesn’t have anything to do with your heart.
Instead, heartburn is caused by acid reflux, which happens when acid from your stomach moves into your esophagus (the tube that carries saliva, liquid, and food from your mouth to your stomach).
The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a muscle between your esophagus and stomach. It opens to allow food to pass and then closes to keep the acid in your stomach. When the LES fails to close, the acid can creep back into your esophagus, resulting in the feeling we refer to as heartburn.
When you're pregnant, your body surges with extra hormones, including progesterone, which acts as a muscle relaxer. So, when you’re pregnant, that extra progesterone can loosen the LES more frequently, causing all that stomach acid to travel back to your esophagus.
Progesterone can also slow down the digestion process, meaning there’s more time for your stomach to hold food and acid. Add the fact that your growing uterus is squeezing your other organs (especially during your second and third trimesters), and you have a perfect recipe for heartburn.
5 Ways to Relieve Your Pregnancy Heartburn
The good news is that your heartburn issues will likely go away once your baby is born. Of course, the bad news is that you still have to put up with it for the next few months.
Try these five things to relieve the pain and reduce your chances of getting heartburn in the first place.
1. Eat smaller meals
There’s less room for food to sit comfortably in your stomach as your baby grows. So, instead of eating a few large meals, have several small meals throughout the day. This will keep your stomach from getting too full and make digestion go faster.
2. Eat dinner several hours before bed
Remember, digestion can take longer when you’re pregnant. So, give yourself some time to digest your last meal before lying down to sleep. Aim to finish eating at least three hours before you go to bed.
3. Take a walk after a meal instead of sitting
Even walking for five minutes after eating can help stimulate digestion, making it less likely that food will stay around in your stomach.
4. Drink coconut water
Some research suggests that drinking alkaline water can improve digestion and relieve symptoms of acid reflux. Coconut water can be a good option since it is high in potassium and promotes pH balance in the body.
5. Work with a functional medicine practitioner
You may need to use herbal remedies or digestive enzymes during pregnancy. We suggest working with a functional medicine (or nutrition) practitioner who can guide you on using natural remedies for heartburn. Don't try to DIY it yourself, as herbs and supplements may be problematic during pregnancy.
Stay Healthy During Your Pregnancy and Beyond
We know pregnancy heartburn can feel unbearable at times. Make sure you continue to eat healthy foods to support your growing baby. Supplement your meals with a daily dose of Vitamin D and pre-natal to stay strong and healthy.