Heartburn and acid reflux during pregnancy may be quite painful for some women, but can be sufficiently managed. Treatment typically involves a period of trial and error with your physician.
In milder cases the following are some of the safest means of reducing the occurrence of discomfort for both you and your unborn baby:
Adjust your eating habits to prevent acid:
- As large meals are often one of the main causes of heartburn or acid reflux, it is found that consuming several smaller meals during the day instead can help to alleviate discomfort or pain. It is best to avoid drinking any liquids while eating as this often causes the LES to open up at inappropriate times, as well as place additional pressure on the stomach. It is better to drink water between meals instead.
- Take your time while eating, chewing each mouthful of food slowly.
- You can chew a piece of sugarless gum after meals. Chewing gum helps to increase levels of saliva which in turn helps to neutralise any acid seeping back up into the oesophagus.
- It is a good idea to wait at least 2-3 hours after a meal before you lie down. A leisurely walk between meals can encourage digestion (as well as get in some healthy exercise during your pregnancy too). If you’re prone to late-night snacking, you may want to try and better space your meals during the day so that you’re not feeling hungry too close to bedtime.
- Foods that can trigger or worsen GERD symptoms include chocolate, mint or peppermint, spicy foods, acidic foods (such as tomatoes and oranges), fruit juice, fatty foods, mustard, as well as carbonated and caffeinated beverages (such as sodas, tea and coffee). Refrain from over seasoning foods as well to avoid triggering heartburn or reflux.
- If you do feel some discomfort, eating a little yoghurt or a small glass of milk can help to alleviate symptoms. You can also add some honey to chamomile tea or a little warm milk.
- Maintaining a healthy weight throughout your pregnancy will also help prevent to many heartburn or acid reflux occurrences. Additional weight and fat places more pressure on the stomach. It is best to follow your physician’s guidelines for healthy weight gain during your pregnancy.
- Ensure that your clothing is comfortable and not too tight-fitting. Tightness around the waist and stomach can trigger heartburn or reflux.
- Sleep on your left side. Higher levels of discomfort or pain are commonly experienced when lying on your right side as the stomach is positioned higher than the oesophagus. You can use pillows or wedge pillows to elevate the upper body (head and shoulders) a little while sleeping.
- It is strongly advisable not to smoke or chew tobacco, as well as consume alcoholic beverages during pregnancy.
- Try and bend at the knees, rather than at the waist. This helps to avoid any unnecessary pressure on the stomach. Good posture also helps to prevent the stomach from being pushed up against the oesophagus, and thus placing additional pressure on the LES.