Heartburn in pregnancy is one of the most common annoyances, especially as the term approaches. Statistics say that over half of women suffer from reflux in pregnancy, but if you are one of them, don’t worry. Even if now all you do is ask yourself “Will it ever go away?!”, please be aware that almost all mothers recover spontaneously after giving birth. One of the reasons why this disorder appears – as we will see in details shortly – is in fact the increase in the volume of the uterus due to the growth of the child. After his birth, therefore, the digestive system will again have all the space it needs!
If you have had stomach acidity several times after meals or when you lie down for a nap, or if you have tasted bitter in your mouth, you may also have gastroesophageal reflux during pregnancy. What are the symptoms and how can you counter them? We explain everything in this article.
Causes and symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux in pregnancy
The feeling of heartburn, in pregnancy or in any other situation in which you suffer from reflux, is due to the ascent of gastric juices from the stomach along the esophagus. The walls of the latter are not protected, so a sense of acidity is perceived.
In addition to burning in the area behind the breastbone, which is the most common, the other symptoms of reflux are:
- stomach pain in pregnancy;
- bitter taste in your mouth;
- acid regurgitation;
- abdominal or chest pain;
- difficulty in swallowing;
Almost all of these symptoms appear mostly after meals, when lying down or bending over. There is also a rarer symptomatology linked to acids in pregnancy, which includes asthma, chronic cough, sinusitis or even dental erosions.
There are two main causes of reflux and therefore of heartburn in pregnancy. One is hormonal: progesterone, present in big quantities during gestation, decreases gastric mobility making correct digestion more difficult. The second, as we said at the beginning, is the size of the uterus which, as it grows in volume, compresses the stomach and makes it less capacious, pushing the acids upwards.
Have you ever experienced acidity or bitter mouth in pregnancy yet? That’s better, it means that you have time to prevent reflux. We will immediately explain how.
Heartburn in pregnancy, prevention is better than cure
That’s true, heartburn is considered one of the most common ailments of the last month of pregnancy, but this does not mean that you cannot try to prevent it! Or to cure it, in case it appears at some point anyway.
Before we dive into the remedies for acid reflux in pregnancy, we want to give you a couple of general prevention tips.
- Avoid alcohol and smoking as much as possible which, in addition to being risky for the health of the fetus, worsen the burning sensation.
- When you lie down (try to wait 2/3 hours after the meal) do not lie on your back or on your right side: it is better if you sleep with your torso slightly inclined to make it more difficult for the acids to rise. To do this, you can help yourself with our Koala Hugs pillow, the best companion both during pregnancy and during breastfeeding.
- Be aware that stress plays a central role in the appearance of these symptoms, too: therefore try to lead a life of wellness.
As with other disorders, diet for reflux in pregnancy is also essential: what to eat to prevent and improve symptoms?
Antacid foods to prevent stomach pain in pregnancy
As far as regards nutrition, even before stating what is important, it is crucial to state how to deal with it: try to make small and frequent meals, and drink lots of water.
More than eating real antacid foods, it is good to avoid those that create heartburn (in pregnancy, but not only): very greasy foods, chocolate, coffee and tea, mint, fruit juices, citrus fruits, beans and peas, onions , peppers and tomatoes.
You may not have to stop eating them all, but if you suffer from acidity try to limit them and see if the situation improves. A good way to understand what makes you feel sick the most is to rethink what you ate before a particularly unpleasant episode of gastroesophageal reflux. After that, all you have to do is avoid those foods for a while and see how it goes.
Reflux in pregnancy, natural (and not) remedies
To limit acids and heartburn in pregnancy, you can try different remedies, starting with the most natural ones or resorting to drugs if nothing else works.
For reflux in pregnancy, the main natural remedies are:
- Using ginger, fresh or powder, after meals: it helps both against nausea and for acidity in pregnancy;
- Drinking herbal teas with aloe, chamomile and licorice;
- Taking vitamin B1 and B2 supplements, or increase their intake through foods such as eggs, pineapple, hazelnuts, brewer’s yeast and buckwheat;
- Taking alginic acid – a substance extracted from algae – to protect the esophagus from gastric juices;
- Making decoctions with flax seeds, letting them boil in water until a gel forms, and taking it in the event of a reflux;
- Drinking an infusion of althaea officinalis or taking tablets of its dry extract after eating;
- There are those who say that even two fingers of potato juice, to be drunk between meals, are an excellent remedy for controlling heartburn in pregnancy.
If all this is not enough, you can switch to drug treatments with antacid medicines such as – to name one – Maalox. However, we advise you to ask your doctor or gynecologist before making decisions in this regard.
It’s true: heartburn is an unwanted companion to pregnancy, which comes just when you want to do nothing but enjoy the last few weeks with your baby bump. Thanks to our advice, however, we are sure that you will be able to prevent it and – if any symptoms appear – you will make it disappear with the most effective natural remedies. When your baby arrives, you will be just fine and reflux will be just a bad memory!