Acid reflux is common during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester. It can lead to heartburn and a heavy feeling in the chest, among other symptoms that are irritating to deal with. Thankfully, there are safe and effective natural pregnancy acid reflux remedies you can try to feel better. Keep in mind, everyone is different. What may remedy acid reflux in some people could trigger it for others and vice versa. Pay attention to your triggers and what works and doesn’t work for you.
What is Pregnancy Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux is common during pregnancy. It occurs when stomach acid leaks out of the stomach and up into the esophagus. This causes a burning sensation in the chest and can also be accompanied by a feeling of heaviness or fullness in the chest or stomach.
The stomach contains hydrochloric acid, which is a strong acid that helps break down food and protect against pathogens such as bacteria. The lining of the stomach is adapted to protect it from the acid, but the esophagus is not. The gastroesophageal sphincter acts as a valve that lets food into the stomach but not back up the esophagus. When this valve fails, stomach content flows back up into the esophagus, causing acid reflux.
What Causes Pregnancy Acid Reflux?
Pregnancy acid reflux can be caused by hormonal changes and the baby pressing up against your stomach. Hormone changes can cause the muscles in the esophagus to relax more frequently, which can result in more acids backing up, especially when you’re lying down or after you’ve eaten a big meal. Additionally, as your fetus grows and your uterus expands, your stomach is under more pressure. This can result in food and acid being pushed back up your esophagus.
Pregnancy itself increases your risk of acid reflux. During the first trimester, muscles in your esophagus push more food slowly into the stomach and your stomach takes longer to empty. This gives the body more time to absorb nutrients for the fetus, but makes acid reflux more likely. During the third trimester, the growth of your baby can push your stomach out of its normal position, which can also result in acid reflux.
9 Pregnancy Acid Reflux Signs and Symptoms
1. Burning sensation in the middle of the chest aka heartburn
2. Heaviness or fullness in the chest or stomach
3. A bitter taste in the mouth
4. Sore throat
When to See a Doctor
See a doctor if you experience acid reflux that is severe or persistent during pregnancy. Make sure to get in touch with your healthcare provider as soon as possible if you have difficulty swallowing or pain while swallowing. You should also call your doctor if you have heartburn that wakes you up at night, spit up or vomit blood, have black stools or are losing weight.
7 Pregnancy Acid Reflux Remedies
1. Ginger Tea
Ginger is known as a stomach-soother and that also goes for acid reflux. It’s great for fighting heartburn, reducing inflammation and preventing acid from traveling up the esophagus. It’s alkaline and anti-inflammatory, which can help relieve gastrointestinal irritation. Ginger tea can also help ease nausea, which is helpful if you suffer from episodes of vomiting when you have acid reflux.
2. Low-Fat Yogurt
Acid reflux causes damage to the lining of the esophagus, which is what causes symptoms. Yogurt has a soothing texture that coats the esophagus so you don’t feel the acid irritating the lining. It’s also rich in probiotics, which help normalize bowel function and soothe stomach discomfort, causing a cooling sensation. Opt for skim or low-fat varieties of yogurt as foods that are higher in fat can cause acid reflux.
3. Milk with Honey
A teaspoon of honey mixed with warm mix is a good way to neutralize heartburn-causing acid. Milk acts as a temporary buffer, soothing heartburn symptoms, and like yogurt, be sure to stick to low-fat varieties. Milk that’s higher in fat stays in the stomach longer, which can increase the likelihood of acid reflux returning. Honey has antibacterial and antiviral properties and helps with digestive issues. It may work to reduce inflammation in the esophagus, and its smooth texture allows it to coat the esophagus better.
Bananas are considered to be an alkaline food because of their high potassium content. They’re low-acid fruits that can help neutralize stomach acid by coating the irritated esophagus lining. They also contain pectin, a soluble fibre that helps keep food flowing through the digestive system. This can help keep you full for longer, so you’re less likely to overeat. Be aware that in some people bananas can be a trigger of acid reflux, especially if they’re not ripe yet. Other alkaline foods included melon, cauliflower and almonds.
Oatmeal is high in fibre, which is great because fibre makes you feel full and overeating can contribute to acid reflux. Oatmeal also absorbs stomach acid and reduces symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Cook them in low-fat milk or skip the dairy entirely if you’re lactose intolerant. You can use water or a dairy alternative like oat milk.
The next time you’re experiencing heartburn, try a handful of almonds. Almonds are a low acid food, although they’re also high in fat, which can worsen symptoms for some people. Almonds are beneficial as they’re a good source of fibre and also help control your appetite. They’re an alkaline food, contain lots of nutrients and may help absorb stomach acid.
The digestive enzymes in papaya can help ease pregnancy acid reflux symptoms. It improves digestion and reduces heartburn, so it’s great to eat after a meal. Papaya is also high in antioxidants, vitamins A and C and amino acids. Due to its high water content it helps keep the body hydrated and neutralizes the acid in the stomach, reducing reflux.
Acid reflux during pregnancy is normal and common. Try these remedies to stop heartburn in its path and feel better throughout your pregnancy.