I had a lot of trouble with acid reflux when pregnant with our first child. My heartburn was quite severe and this kept me awake most nights, especially through the first semester. I also suffered from acid water regurgitating in my mouth, getting up with a sour taste was not very pleasant.
Having to cope with all the challenges of my first pregnancy and my acid reflux was making my life miserable. I also felt really guilty because family and friends were telling me to enjoy the wonderful experience of being pregnant.
The thing is, I have never suffered from this condition before becoming pregnant, so this must have been the reason why I was getting acid reflux. As I was getting more and more distressed I decided to find out as much as I could about acid reflux during pregnancy and what remedies could help relieve my symptoms.
Over the following months I learned a lot about acid reflux and the ways in which you can treat it. I applied a lot of what I learned and through trial and error, found a number of remedies that made a huge difference to my quality of life.
If you are currently suffering I hope the following information enlightens you and most importantly helps to relieve your acid reflux when pregnant symptoms.
So please read on….
Why Do Women Have Acid Reflux When Pregnant
All of us from time to time will suffer a bout of acid reflux. This happens when the contents of our stomach – a mixture of acid, pepsin and bile – regurgitates upwards (refluxes) into our food pipe or esophagus. When this mixture makes contact with the thin layer of the esophagus it can cause inflammation and this produces the burning sensation we call heartburn.
There are number of reasons why this happens. One of the most common is your lower esophageal sphincter (LES) not functioning properly. The LES is a circular valve-like muscle located at the end of the esophagus. It is the gateway to your stomach. When you swallow, the LES relaxes and opens, allowing food and liquids to enter the stomach. It then closes, preventing the contents of the stomach from leaking into the esophagus.
During pregnancy our LES can weaken and one of the causes is thought be the hormonal balances in our body’s changing before and during pregnancy. For example, during pregnancy our estrogen levels will rise and in particular the hormone progesterone.
Progesterone is known as the pregnancy hormone. It strengthens the lining of the uterus in preparation for the fertilized eggs to be implanted. It also plays a supportive role throughout the pregnancy, especially during the vital first trimester. It is thought these hormonal changes have the effect of weakening the LES, which increases the risk of acid reflux.
Another factor is when the baby begins to grow. This increases the pressure around the abdominal area including the stomach. This pressure can have the effect of pushing the stomach acid levels upwards and forcing the LES to open.
How To Treat Acid Reflux When Pregnant
In many ways the treatment of non-related pregnancy acid reflux actually applied to my own experience and a lot of other pregnant women. These treatments mostly involved lifestyle changes including the diet I was eating.
Below I have listed a number of ways how to relieve acid reflux when pregnant;
Night Time Relief Of Heartburn
I dreaded going to bed at night. My heartburn intensified at this time and most nights I was lucky to catch a few hours sleep. However, its amazing how a little research can make the quality of your life, so much better.
There was a very good reason why I and a lot of other pregnant women were suffering worse acid reflux at night. The key reason had to do with the position we slept in.
Picture an upright clear glass bottle that is half full of water, with a cap on the top. When you turn the bottle onto its side the water will flow towards the cap. This is what happens to the contents of your stomach when you are lying horizontally on your mattress at night. The top of the bottle which represents your LES is doing its job of keeping the water in the bottle. However, if the LES is weakened due to pregnancy, the stomach acid leaks out.
The reflux can be stopped by simply elevating the upper part of your body to create an angle. This elevation uses the wonderful law of gravity to keep the acid where it should be – in your stomach. You can easily do this by putting a few pillows or even better, bean cushions behind your back and neck. It will take a few nights to get use to the new sleeping position, but this is a small price to pay for no heartburn.
Avoid Eating Late At Night
As I’m sure you know pregnancy can be hungry a business, because we are eating for two! Heavy meals or late night snacks should be avoided. It is far better to eat more meals with smaller portions, than eating the traditional big three.
Eating late at night is only going to increase the production of stomach acid during the night so, your evening meal should at least be 3 hours before you go to bed.
Also, cut out snacks especially chocolate as it can trigger heartburn. This was really hard for me to do as I’m addicted to it chocolate.
I found that chewing my food thoroughly helped a lot. I’m was guilty of gulping down my food fast and paid the price of this bad habit with indigestion. I discovered this could increase the risk of acid reflux during pregnancy because undigested food increases the volume of acid in your stomach.
Natural Remedies To Relieve Acid Reflux During Pregnancy
One of the things you should not do is take acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) medications during pregnancy. These treatments are often prescribed for people with non pregnancy acid reflux which is fine, but you have the health of your unborn child to think about, so these are best avoided.
For this reason well known remedies should be explored. Even so, it is still a good idea to consult with your doctor before you try any. Below are a few natural remedies that helped relieve my acid reflux.
Raw Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
Take a tablespoonful diluted with still water when ever you feel your heartburn coming on. In the morning time I had a real problem with sour saliva in the mouth however, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar got rid of this pretty quickly and it also helped to settle my stomach.
It is important that you buy the raw organic variety because they contain what is called the ‘mother’ (pretty apt for being pregnant). This is actually the sediment you will see floating in the cider bottle. Do not be alarmed because this is good stuff. The sediment are the live enzymes that help calm your stomach and aid digestion.
Avoid products that are not raw or organic because these are filtered and pasteurized, meaning the natural health promoting enzymes are destroyed. Vinegar made from organic apples do not contain any chemicals and pesticides. The brand I use is Bragg’s apple cider vinegar, which you can buy online or in most health food stores.
Probiotics, also known as friendly bacteria are microorganisms that live in your digestive tract. They are essential for digestive health ensuring the functions of the digestive system work efficiently. However, through poor diet and infections these good bacteria can be overrun by bad bacteria that can cause intestinal disorders.
You can top up your probiotics by eating fermented foods such as miso soup, sauerkraut, which is a fermented cabbage and is also rich in vitamin A, B, C and E. Most pickled vegetables are good, especially cucumber and radishes.
There are many dairy probiotic foods such as yogurt kefir. However, many women including myself find this causes indigestion. The reason for this due to the cows milk, this is hard for our digestion to breakdown because of the lactose (milk sugars). Any foods that are hard to break down means more acid production. Kefir made from goats milk is a better choice as its easier for us to digest.
Without prebiotics, our friendly bacteria would not survive. Prebiotics are found naturally in raw fruits and vegetables, although this tends to be in the skin. They are also the food for our probiotics. They are only partially digested and travel through our small and large intestines, where they ferment. Our probiotics feed off this fermentation, which supports their growth.
Excellent sources of prebiotics are
- Jerusalem Artichokes
- Raw onions
- Barley & Oats
These are best eaten raw to get the full benefits of the prebiotics. However, I found eating the vegetables raw or even when lightly cooked where difficult for me to digest and caused indigestion.
Fortunately, I found a great prebiotic digestive health supplement called MX Kiwi Biotic. This is made from 100% kiwifruit, so it is completely natural, which was important to me being pregnant.
What alsoimpressed me about Kiwi Klenz is that it contains the digestive enzymes of the kiwifruit. Many people with acid reflux have a lack of digestive enzymes in their stomach.
These enzymes are essential for helping our digestion breakdown the food we eat. It makes it easier for our bodies to absorb essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals, that we need for us and are unborn child.
However, they can also help relieve our acid reflux during pregnancy. By breaking down foods more efficiently their is less burden on your digestive system.
Click here for more information on the health benefits of Kiwi Klenz and how it can benefit you during and after pregnancy.
Oh by the way, did you know that our own breast milk is naturally high in prebiotics. If you are deciding to breastfeed your baby, make sure your getting enough prebiotics!