The Science behind Acid Reflux during Pregnancy
As I mentioned earlier, most pregnant women experience acid reflux symptoms and GERD symptoms during their third trimester. But, anyone can experience heartburn. Especially with Thanksgiving coming up, indigestion from overeating is a common cause of heartburn. But how do you know if you have heartburn or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)? Well, take a look at the following symptoms….
- Acidic/Bitter taste in the mouth
- Burning sensation in the middle of your chest
- Usually happens right after a meal (especially if it's spicy)
- It’s like a mini barf that comes up and goes back down but the irritation stays (yuck, I know!)
So, what causes heartburn?
That burning sensation is from acidic stomach contents coming back up into the esophagus. Your food should go down your throat (esophagus), into your stomach and happily continue on its way to the intestines. BUT, instead the little flap between your stomach and your esophagus (this is called your lower esophageal sphincter) malfunctions and allows some of the partially digested food back into your throat. The burning feeling is caused by the stomach acid that the food was mixed with.
During pregnancy, heartburn is common due to the high levels of progesterone because it is a relaxation hormone. It can cause the lower esophageal sphincter or the cap of the stomach to relax allowing food contents to come back up the wrong way. It’s also common because, well, you have a beautiful baby growing inside of you! But that causes less room. So, take your time when eating and stop when you’re full.
But, you may experience acid reflux even if you aren’t pregnant. Indigestion, overeating and certain foods can also cause GERD symptoms or heartburn. If you want to minimize these symptoms, whether you're pregnant or not, try avoiding the following foods.
A GERD diet avoids:
- Spicy foods
- Citrus products (tomatoes, oranges, lemons etc.)
- Large meals
- Fatty/Fried foods
Now that we know what causes heartburn, let’s take a look at different heartburn remedies!
Acid Reflux Remedies
You might be overwhelmed if you go to your local pharmacy and see the countless bottles labeled “acid reflux remedy” and “heartburn medicine” and “for GERD symptoms”. Luckily, here are some easy home remedies that don’t require pills and some recommendations for medicines if you prefer that.
Easy Home Remedies
- Sip liquids between your meals
- Take a leisure walk after meals
- Don’t eat for at least 3 hours before bed
- Sleep with your head and upper chest slightly elevated (a cheap wedge pillow will do the trick!)
- Follow the GERD diet outlined above!
- Try eating papaya enzymes or herbs like chamomile or licorice.
And finally, our personal favorite, INVEST in a NoMo Nausea wristband! By using peppermint essential oil aromatherapy it helps to stop the turbulent tummy and increases the amount of anti-nausea hormones using acupressure so you can stop nausea even before you bite into that spicy burrito.
Home remedies for acid reflux during pregnancy
Whether you are a pregnant mom or a sufferer of heartburn or just ate too much at Thanksgiving, check out these effective heartburn medicines.
- H2 blockers: Pepcid & Zantac. These guys decrease acid production. H2 blockers stop the acid production but does nothing for the acid that has already been created. SO be sure to take these before you feel the symptoms!
- Proton Pump Inhibitors: Prevacid, Protonix, & Nexium. These reduce the amount of acid your stomach makes. However, these medications must be taken continuously or else the pump opens back up for business.
- Antacids: Mylanta, Tums, & Rolaids. These are awesome at providing quick relief as they neutralize stomach acids. BUT, be careful if you have a sodium-restricted diet due to blood pressure issues or preeclampsia.
So, if you are in that 50% of pregnant women who report having bad indigestion during their second and third trimesters; try these remedies! We at NoMo Nausea want YOU to enjoy the miracle of pregnancy and even that spicy burrito you’re craving. If you’re looking for more on this topic check out Episode 9 of our Pukeology Podcast!