If you are pregnant, it likely doesn’t surprise you that it is one cause of acid reflux. Pregnancy is a wonderful time in many women’s lives, but heartburn can be tough to deal with. Read on to find out about acid reflux pregnancy, and you.
Frustrating and uncomfortable, acid reflux affects a lot of women, particularly during pregnancy. In fact, more than half of all expectant mothers, suffer from acid reflux during pregnancy. If you are pregnant and suffer from heartburn, you are bound to have a number of questions such as – does milk help with heartburn, can acid reflux cause harm to your baby, and so on. Read on for more!
What is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux is a common condition featuring heartburn, a burning pain in the lower chest area. It occurs when stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus, which moves food down to the stomach from the mouth. Heartburn, despite the name, has nothing to do with the heart.
How is Acid Reflux During Pregnancy Different?
Acid reflux occurs during pregnancy because some of the stomach’s acid content cannot stay put and makes its way up to your esophagus. This condition is more common in pregnant women because the main pregnancy hormone, progesterone, slows your digestive system.
This, in combination with the pressure of a growing baby inside your body, increases the potential of stomach acid making its way up to the esophagus. Acid reflux is highly common during pregnancy – more than half of all pregnant women will develop this condition.
Acid reflux occurring in normal circumstances is typically caused by a hiatal hernia, a stomach abnormality. On the other hand, when acid reflux occurs during pregnancy, it is because the process of digestion is slowed down, making you feel fuller faster.
Plus, you have a baby that is pressing up on your stomach. And against all the other organs, meaning less space for your stomach. This is the perfect recipe for that acid ending up in your esophagus.
What causes acid reflux during pregnancy?
During normal digestion, food moves through the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which is a muscular valve, down the esophagus and into the stomach.
The LES opens up to allow food through and then closes to prevent acids from the stomach from coming back up. When you have acid reflux, this muscular valve relaxes enough to allow stomach acid to rise up and make its way into your esophagus. This can result in burning and pain in the chest area.
During pregnancy, changes in hormones can cause the LES and other muscles in the esophagus to relax more frequently. This results in more acids seeping back up, particularly after you have eaten a large meal or when you are lying down.
On top of this, during the second and third trimesters of your pregnancy, your fetus grows and your uterus expands to be able to accommodate this growth. As a result, your stomach is under more pressure than usual. This can also cause food and stomach acid to rise up into your esophagus.
Symptoms of acid reflux during pregnancy
Acid reflux during pregnancy often causes dyspepsia, or indigestion. The symptoms of acid reflux and dyspepsia during pregnancy can vary from mild to severe, and can include one or more of the following:
- Heartburn – a burning sensation that rises from the lower chest area or the upper abdomen up towards the neck
- Waterbrash – a sudden flow of saliva that tastes sour in your mouth
- Pain behind the breastbone in the center of the chest
- Pain or discomfort in the upper abdominal area
- Nausea and vomiting
- Feeling “full” quickly after eating
Rather than being present at all times, symptoms of these two problems tend to occur in bouts that come and go. You can begin experiencing symptoms any time during your pregnancy, but they tend to occur more severely and frequently in the last trimester.
How to get rid of acid reflux in throat? For occasional acid reflux symptoms during pregnancy, you might get relief from over-the-counter antacids – some good options are those that are made of calcium carbonate or magnesium. However, keep in mind that you might be better off avoiding magnesium during the last trimester of your pregnancy as the mineral could interfere with contractions when you go through labor.
The majority of doctors advise against using antacids with high sodium levels as they can result in the buildup of fluid in the tissues. It is also important to remember that you should stay away from any antacids that list aluminum on the label, as in “aluminum carbonate” or “aluminum hydroxide” as they can result in constipation. Last but not least, avoid medications that may contain aspirin-like Alka-Seltzer.
You should consult your doctor and ask for the best option to treat acid reflux during pregnancy. If you find yourself taking excessive bottles of antacids, it is likely that your acid reflux has progressed to GERD, or gastroesophageal acid reflux disease, in which case you may need to get a stronger treatment.
FAQs on Acid Reflux, Pregnancy
Below are some very commonly asked questions about acid reflux.
a. How common is acid reflux during pregnancy?
According to experts, acid reflux is extremely common during pregnancy. In fact, 30- 50% of pregnant women will go through acid reflux.
b. How did acid reflux develop during my pregnancy?
During pregnancy, the digestion process slows down and this causes you to become fuller faster than usual. And because your stomach has less room now, acid runs up your esophagus. Plus, you have a baby that is pressing on your stomach.
c. Will my acid reflux have an effect on my baby?
No, acid reflux should not have any effect on your baby in any way, shape or form. Have you heard that old wives’ tale about how you will give birth to a hairy baby if you suffer from heartburn during your pregnancy? Relax – it is not true at all!
d. Is there any test I can take for acid reflux while I am pregnant?
Acid reflux in pregnancy is most often diagnosed based only on symptoms. However, if you get it persistently after pregnancy, your doctor may order additional testing, which includes an upper endoscopy. This is a test used to look inside the upper digestive tract.
e. What is the best treatment for acid reflux during pregnancy?
One of the most helpful treatments for acid reflux is OTC antacids. You can also take OTC medicines that help in decreasing stomach acid. However, you should talk to your doctor or midwife before taking Tagamet and other similar OTC medications to treat acid reflux while you are pregnant. It is vital to make sure that the medicine will not interact with any other medication you might be taking.
f. What can I do to prevent acid reflux while I am pregnant?
You should eat small meals on a frequent basis and avoid foods that are greasy and spicy, especially close to bedtime. Relax and eat slowly and do not eat for at least one hour before going to bed. When you go to bed, use pillows to prop yourself up so that gravity can help in keeping your stomach acids exactly where they should be – in your stomach.
g. Will the heartburn I experience during my pregnancy become a permanent condition?
No. In most cases, heartburn or acid reflux during pregnancy is just a nuisance. The symptoms you experience will likely subside within a few weeks after your baby is born.
Common Trigger Foods for People with Acid Reflux
The specific triggers for acid reflux or heartburn differ from one person to another. You might be surprised by some of the foods that can trigger these problems.
Large Meals and Fatty Foods: Do you often have a craving for a juicy, jumbo burger and fries before bedtime? Do not give in as this will definitely fuel the flame of heartburn. The top three triggers that affect people with acid reflux and heartburn are large meals, late-night meals, and fatty foods. During pregnancy, though, cravings are the name of the game.
Other food and drinks that can trigger acid reflux and heartburn include the following:
- Alcohol – red wine in particular
- Citrus fruits and products, such as oranges, orange juice, lemons and lemon juice
- Raw onions, garlic, black pepper, and other spicy foods
- Coffee and caffeinated beverages, including soda and tea
Foods to Add to Your Diet for Acid Reflux
Here is a look at some of the foods you should add to your diet to manage acid reflux symptoms:
With its anti-inflammatory properties, ginger should be a part of your daily diet as it helps in soothing acid reflux. Add it to your recipes and also make it a point to drink 2 cups of ginger tea daily.
Naturally low in sugar and fat, vegetables can help a significant deal in reducing stomach acid. Some of the best options to add to your diet include potatoes, leafy greens, broccoli, cucumbers, cauliflower, asparagus, and green beans.
A breakfast favorite, oatmeal is a whole grain that is rich in fiber. It absorbs stomach acid and reduces symptoms of acid reflux. Other options with high fiber content include whole-grain rice and whole-grain loaves of bread.
Seafood, fish, turkey, chicken and other lean meats have low-fat content and are effective in reducing symptoms of acid reflux. To make sure that they are not too oily when you cook these meats, flip the switch for baked, grilled, broiled, or poached.
While fatty foods are a no-no when you have acid reflux, you do need to get an adequate amount of healthy fats. Some of the best sources of healthy fats include flaxseed, walnuts, avocados, olive oil, sunflower oil, and sesame oil. Make sure to decrease your intake of trans fats and saturated fats and go for these healthier unsaturated fats instead.
Does milk help acid reflux? Yes, it does, briefly. Milk temporarily buffers stomach acid, when drunk in moderation. You may just gulp down some fat-free milk for quick relief from acid reflux. However, the nutrients in milk, such as fat can trigger the stomach in many cases to produce more acid, and thus worsen the condition. It is therefore important to stick to skim milk and drink not over a cup of milk for relief from heartburn.
Apart from the ones mentioned above, some of the other foods you should include in your diet are bananas, pears, apples, yogurt, melons, egg whites, celery, parsley, fennel, and aloe vera.
4 Remedies that You Can Try to Treat Acid Reflux During Pregnancy
How to get rid of acid reflux in throat? Although there are medications you can take to relieve acid reflux while you are pregnant, you might find it a lot better to try out home remedies that are 100% natural and safe. Here is a look at 5 natural remedies that you can use to treat acid reflux:
1. Apple cider vinegar:
Raw apple cider vinegar is one of the best natural remedies for acid reflux and heartburn during pregnancy. Low stomach acid levels lead to heartburn, and because this vinegar increases the acids, it works well in relieving acid reflux and heartburn.
• Mix 1 teaspoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with roughly 8 ounces of water – you can gradually build up the amount of vinegar you use to 1 tablespoon.
• Sip the solution throughout the day and 1 hour before meals.
• Repeat until the problem is completely gone.
2. Fresh lemon juice
While lemon juice can cause or trigger acid reflux, it is also a great remedy for the problem. It boosts the production of digestive juices and bile, which in turn helps in balancing low levels of stomach acid and improving digestion.
• Squeeze the juice of 2 lemons and mix with a minimum of 8 ounces of water.
• Add honey or stevia.
• Heat it up to make tea or leave it cold to make juice or lemonade.
• Drink the lemonade or tea a few times a day until you get relief.
3. Ginger tea
When used in moderation, ginger can be an excellent natural remedy for acid reflux. If you use it in high doses or too frequently, it can possibly lead to contractions. Sipping on ginger tea can ease acid reflux and other symptoms.
• Add ½ to 1 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger to 8 ounces of boiling hot water.
• Allow it to steep for 10 minutes and then strain.
• Relax and sip slowly and allow the tea to work its magic on your stomach.
• Do this regularly until your condition improves.
4. Fennel seeds
As mentioned earlier, fennel is a superb food that you should add to your diet for acid reflux. Fennel seeds and fennel seed oil are very effective in warding off heartburn. They naturally reduce acid, soothe the digestive tract and decrease inflammation. However, keep in mind that like ginger, frequent or excessive amounts of fennel may result in contractions, so make sure to use it moderately.
• Crush a small amount of fennel seeds and add to lemon tea or lemonade. Fennel’s flavor goes very well with lemon.
• Or, steep crushed fennel seeds in hot water for about 10 minutes and then strain.
• Sip on the tea slowly to relieve symptoms of acid reflux.
• Do this 2 times a day until your condition improves.
5. Bentonite clay:
Being highly absorbable, bentonite clay is alkalizing and can absorb excess acids, hormones, toxins, and other substances in your body. Your body does not actually assimilate or absorb the clay. It simply moves through your system and takes any imbalances with it, which in turn helps in easing the symptoms of heartburn.
• Mix 1 to 2 teaspoons of bentonite clay in at least 8 ounces of water.
• Drink the solution to ease symptoms.
• When taking clay, remember that you need to drink plenty of water to help it move through.
6. Baking soda
If all else fails, simply resort to Baking soda. This is a natural antacid and does wonders to soothe a bad case of heartburn. This popular kitchen ingredient contains sodium bicarbonate that neutralizes excess stomach acid and helps relieve symptoms of heartburn during pregnancy.
- Simply gulp down a 1/8th teaspoon of baking soda mixed in a glass of water for quick relief.
- You may consume baking soda 2-3 times a day for best results.
Acid reflux is extremely common during pregnancy. While it is not a serious issue, it can cause some pain and discomfort, which is the last thing you need when you are pregnant. To get relief from this problem, try out the home remedies provided above, and see which one works best for you and continue with it.
However, if you continue to suffer from acid reflux even after a few weeks of using these home remedies, you should visit your doctor to find out if the acid reflux is a symptom of another, potentially serious, condition. Talk to your doctor about your acid reflux pregnancy symptoms, today.
Which heartburn remedies have you used? Which do you plan on trying? Let us know down in the comments.