Among the many unpleasant symptoms of pregnancy is heartburn -- a common term for stomach acids creeping back up into the esophagus, resulting in a burning sensation usually in the upper chest area. Most often it is related to the growing belly and the lack of space surrounding the developing baby. In addition, the digestive system moves at a slower pace due to the hormonal changes experienced in this stage of pregnancy. Sounds glamorous, doesn't it?
Here's 6 basic tips to help you manage your heartburn symptoms:
- Don't eat right before you sleep. Give yourself at least 2-3 hours post dinner before you get horizontal. Laying down after eating could cause the stomach acids to creep upwards unnecessarily. As it is, the digestive system is working slowly so it's important to sit upright post meals.
- Sleep elevated. If you find yourself experiencing heartburn during the night, keep yourself propped up with a few extra pillows. While it may not be fun to sleep on an elevation, focus on this at least until the feeling subsides.
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals. Towards the third trimester, focus on eating smaller, more frequent meals. Ideally, the meals should be a balanced combination of protein, fats and carbohydrates. A high-fat snack or meal focus could contribute to additional discomfort. This will help you manage your heartburn more easily. In addition, try to avoid the last meal as the largest meal.
- Watch what you eat. The most common "heartburn" triggers include caffeine, high-fat foods, greasy foods and over seasoned foods. Consume in moderation and in combination with other food groups. For example, try to not drink coffee on its own but rather with a piece of toast or a cup of oatmeal.
- Walk it out. Walking or any low impact cardio especially after a meal is a great way to minimize heartburn symptoms. The activity will not only aid in digestion but also alleviate the body of excess gas.
- Try a pregnancy-approved antacid. If none of the above seem to help, some antacids are approved for use during pregnancy. Please consult your doctor ahead of time. Brands like Healthy Mama offer flavored, chewable tablets that provide heartburn relief. It's important to avoid antacids that contain aluminum as it could cause constipation and can even be toxic in large doses. Also, consult your doctor as it's recommended to avoid antacids containing sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) or sodium citrate because both are high in sodium (which causes water retention!)