Ask Sofia: How can I manage heartburn during pregnancy?
While it actually has nothing to do with your heart, heartburn involves a burning sensation in the chest that can be pretty uncomfortable, particularly during pregnancy when it is more common.
Heartburn, or acid indigestion, is caused when stomach acid moves to the esophagus—the tube that carries food and liquid to the stomach. When these contents come back up or reflux, you might also feel pressure in your throat or a bad taste in the back of your mouth. The culprit is often changing hormone levels during pregnancy, which can affect the digestive tract and how your body processes certain foods.
While you might not be able to take all of your pre-pregnancy heartburn treatments, you do have options. Here are some tips for preventing and managing heartburn during pregnancy:
- Eat five or six small meals throughout the day, instead of three squares, and chew slowly. Rushed meals can contribute to acid reflux. Try to sit up straight while eating.
- At night or naptime, place extra pillows under your head and shoulders to prevent stomach acids from rising. And wait at least an hour after eating to lie down.
- Opt for soothing foods and liquids such as yogurt, pineapple and papaya, and ginger while avoiding fried, rich, citrus and spicy foods. A glass of warm milk with a tablespoon of honey can also help to neutralize acid. Drink more water between meals and less during meals.
- Wear looser clothing to relieve pressure on the abdominal area.
- Talk to your doctor about what medications are approved for use during pregnancy; doctors can also prescribe medication for serious heartburn that doesn’t respond to over-the-counter remedies. Many over-the-counter antacids are safe for use during pregnancy but some contain high amounts of sodium or aluminum, which are contraindicated, so it’s always smart to talk with your doctor first.
“Let’s face it, there is nothing fun about heartburn during pregnancy, but the good news is that it usually goes away after delivery!” said Dr. Amy Hammers. “In the meantime, we are happy to recommend options for treating the symptoms so you can enjoy those pregnancy cravings a little more.”