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Pregnancy can turn a woman's life upside down in the most beautiful manner. However, along with emotional and hormonal changes within, there are many physical changes that a pregnant woman goes through - which at times can be not so beautiful. Heartburn is a fairly common complaint, affecting between 17 per cent to 45 per cent of all pregnant women.
What Causes Heartburn During Pregnancy?
Also termed as indigestion or acid reflux, heartburn is common during pregnancy. It can be caused by hormonal changes, certain foods and the growing baby pressing against the stomach . Heartburn during pregnancy can cause a burning sensation or pain in the chest, feeling full, heavy, or bloated, continuous burping or belching and feeling or being sick .
Usually, the symptoms of heartburn during pregnancy arise soon after eating or drinking. You can get symptoms at any point during your pregnancy, but they are more common from 27 weeks onwards .
As acid reflux or heartburn can be quite uncomfortable for an expectant mother, at times even having an adverse effect on the pregnancy as well, doctors prescribe medication for curbing the same. However, as such medications only offer short-term relief, with acidity coming back as soon as the effect of the medication wears off, looking for natural ways to counter acid reflux is a much safer alternative .
While antacids provide temporary relief, medications should generally be avoided as much as possible during pregnancy. Some home remedies for heartburn during pregnancy are as follows:
1. Lemon Juice
Doctors and gynaecologists assert that heartburn can be effectively treated with lemon. Lemon, when ingested, neutralises the gastric juices and acids, thereby creating an alkaline environment that controls acid reflux . For this reason, lemonade or lemon juice is a quick solution when you are suffering from heartburn during pregnancy.
Acting as a tonic, ginger is widely used by Chinese herbalists for the treatment of various ailments connected with the stomach and digestion . For relief from heartburn, a pregnant woman can safely consume ginger tea prepared by soaking a small piece of raw ginger in hot water . Add a bit of sugar, if required. This concoction can provide relief from heartburn.
Eating a few almonds (5-8) after each meal can help ease heartburn caused during pregnancy. Almonds can help neutralise the juices in the stomach, which may relieve or even prevent heartburn . Drinking almond milk also has been proven to help ease the symptoms of heartburn.
Gynaecologists say that eating fresh, dried, or freeze-dried papaya can help relieve heartburn for some women . This tropical fruit encourages digestion, eases indigestion due to the presence of the enzyme papain and chymopapain, which break down proteins and soothe the stomach.
5. Herbal Tea
Drinking caffeine-free ginger, chamomile and dandelion herbal tea may help relieve heartburn . The soothing properties of these herbs are considered safe during pregnancy.
Note: If you have had any bleeding, it is best to drink ginger tea in moderation, because it contains chemicals that can slow down clotting.
Precaution: However, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking any herbs or herbal teas while pregnant.
6. Apple Cider Vinegar
Studies point out that apple cider vinegar may help pregnant women with heartburn, who did not respond well to over-the-counter antacids . Often disregarded for its acidic nature, apple cider vinegar is quite neutral so that it can calm the acid in the stomach down. Dilute one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in one cup of water and drink it once a day for natural heartburn relief.
While it seems too simple to be effective, chewing gum can actually control heartburn. On chewing gum, our salivary glands go into overdrive, producing more saliva. When this excess saliva reaches the stomach, it effectively neutralises the acids, thereby checking heartburn .
Some of the other ways through which a pregnant woman can manage the heartburn symptoms are mentioned below.
Dietary changes: Little alterations in the diet can effectively curb the occurrence of heartburn in pregnant women. As caffeinated beverages, spicy dishes, and oily food have been proven to trigger heartburn, avoidance of such things can greatly reduce acidity .
Resting: You need to lie down and elevate your upper body for this and is probably the quickest and easiest way to get relief from heartburn. Elevating the upper body while lying down checks the reflux of stomach acid to the oesophagus, thereby reducing heartburn .
Walking: Going for a 10-minute walk half an hour after a meal promotes digestion, which means a little less pressure on your stomach and thereby preventing the onset of symptoms of heartburn .
On A Final Note…
Changes to your diet and lifestyle can help control your symptoms of heartburn. For the treatment and control of heartburn during pregnancy, the steps that can be taken include medications, lifestyle modifications and diet management. Medications given to combat heartburn in pregnant women include sucralfate or antacids.
Usually, there are six interventions that can address the problem of heartburn in pregnant women - antacids either with or without the presence of alginates, restricting the intake of caffeine, reducing the consumption of fatty foods, raising the head of the bed while lying down, reducing the size as well as the frequency of meals.