The vast majority of moms-to-be will experience heartburn at some point during pregnancy, thanks to hormonal changes and the pressure that a growing baby places against a mom‘s stomach. For most of them, it’s just a little pain here and there after eating a spicy meal. For others, pregnancy-related heartburn can be debilitating, causing loss of sleep and even, in very severe cases, weight loss because of discomfort from eating. Fortunately, there are several natural remedies that can safely treat pregnancy-related heartburn. Here are a few worth a shot.
Any natural remedy that promotes relaxation can also help to treat the effects of heartburn, since heartburn is usually worsened by stress and anxiety. Mayo Clinic says that, when used with a doctor’s supervision, yoga, massage, meditation, aromatherapy, and positive visualization can dramatically reduce your stress levels, making heartburn much milder and easier to cope with. Music therapy, art therapy, and even long bubble baths can help to ease pre-baby stresses and make it easier to handle heartburn. Besides, what over-stressed mom-to-be couldn’t go for a nice massage?
The jury’s still out on whether probiotics, or “friendly bacteria,” can help with reflux and heartburn. However, we do know that the probiotics found naturally in cultured foods (such as yogurt, kombucha, and kefir) are most certainly harmless to pregnant women. These living foods may be a helpful natural remedy forheartburn during pregnancy and may work aiding the bacteria in your body that naturally help you digest food– and, as a bonus, they might also improve your immune system and prevent other common discomforts such as yeast infections and eczema. Take note, though: while it’s fine to eat foods that naturally contain probiotics, the National Institutes of Health warns that some types of probiotic haven’t been carefully studied in pregnant women, so don’t take probiotic supplements without touching base with a doctor first.
Change How You Eat
A simple change in your dietary habits can make heartburn in pregnancy much easier to handle. Mayo Clinic recommends lifestyle changes such as smaller, more frequent meals (five or six a day is fine when you’re pregnant) and the avoidance of “trigger” foods like spicy meals, acidic foods, coffee, chocolate, and excessive fat. You may need to experiment some, possibly by keeping a food journal, to find out which foods are your worst triggers. It’s entirely possible that, once you eliminate the culprit, your pregnancy-related heartburn will ease up.
One natural remedy for heartburn in pregnancy involves changing how you sleep. Ideally, you should already be sleeping on your left side, since this provides the best circulation to the baby. You’ll also want to elevate your head while you sleep, so that gravity can help keep the contents on your stomach where they belong. You can either use several pillows (wedge-shaped pillows are best) or you can use a few blocks to actually lift the head of your bed. Another tip: don’t lie down until it’s been at least three hours since you’ve eaten. Lying down too soon can worsen heartburn, since your stomach will still be filled with your last meal.
When to Tell Your Doctor
If none of the natural remedies for heartburn in pregnancy are working for you, you may need to touch base with your doctor. Heartburn in pregnancy isn’t usually a big deal, but, if you allow it to go completely unchecked, it could cause serious problems. For example, you may experience worsened nausea or vomiting to the point that you could lose weight and precious nutrients that your baby needs to thrive. Severe heartburn in pregnancy can also cause painful ulcers that make it difficult to swallow, making it even harder to get the nutrition you need. If natural cures aren’t cutting it, ask your doctor or midwife what you need to do to get rid of this common complaint to keep yourself and your baby healthy.