Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Natural Remedies for Heartburn during Pregnancy

Unfortunately I am all to familiar with heartburn during pregnancy. When I was pregnant with Scarlett I had awful heartburn throughout my entire pregnancy. The most frequently prescribed antidote for heartburn is definitely tums. Pregnant women sometimes pop them like candy. And I completely get why. There were times I felt that my whole chest was on fire and acid was sitting at the back of my throat. And seriously, who wants that especially when you are trying to sleep! However, I learned from my midwife that tums actually contain calcium carbonate which is harder for our bodies to digest than calcium citrate and can lead to constipation which can further aggravate heartburn. . Also, after learning that tums actually prevent iron from being absorbed, which is not something you want when you are pregnant, I decided to try other ways to cope with the dreaded heartburn.

1. Digestive Enzymes - My midwife recommended these and they were the main thing I used to cope with heartburn. Sometimes I took up to 6 pills with a meal. I got them through my midwife at the time but now I just use Now brand super enzymes or optimal digestive enzymes. You can also take just papaya enzymes, but usually with how bad my heartburn was they did not cut it.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar/lemons - One theory is that heartburn is not actually caused by to much stomach acid but is caused by not having enough. That is why tums could be making the issue worse. By continually suppressing the acid in the stomach you are inhibiting food digestion and making heartburn worse in the long run. Apple cider vinegar and lemons add acid to your stomach to help with the digestion. At first I hated the taste of apple cider vinegar, but now I actually like it. I always start my day off with a glass of apple cider vinegar/lemon water (which is also good for the liver) and add a little of one or the other to almost all my glasses of water. If you can't stand the taste of apple cider vinegar adding some juice might help to disguise the taste. 

3. Fermented Foods/Drinks - Fermented foods are a great way to help with digestion. Before the invention of the refrigerator people had to come up with ways to preserve foods and they were often fermented. Fermentation adds beneficial probiotics into the foods that are essential to good digestion. They actually used to eat a small amount of a fermented item at every meal. I have been trying to incorporate this into our diet and I think it is helping me to have less heartburn so far than I did when I was pregnant with Scarlett. 

4. Smaller Meals - This one is hard for me since I grew up eating big meals. It does help if I space out my meals throughout the day. 

5. Walking - Walking/exercise helps to get digestion moving along. I try to go for a walk after supper every night I can because it helps me to digest my supper and not have heartburn throughout the night.

6. Don't eat your trigger foods or eat them earlier in the day - This one is hard for me since for whatever reason I seem to like more spicy foods than usual while pregnant. However if I stay away from spicy foods especially in the evening I seem to do much better. Also my wonderful dark chocolate has been known to cause some heartburn for me so I generally try to eat it earlier in the day if I have some.

7. Avoid beverages with meals - The only beverage I will drink with a meal is a small glass of kombucha or water kefir. Water and other beverages cause the stomach acid to be diluted and therefore not work as efficiently causing more heartburn. 

8. Sleep propped up - If all else fails sleeping propped up will help. Your chiropractor bills may go up, but to me it is worth it to get some sleep. I slept with at least two pillows under my neck at times while pregnant with Scarlett. My midwife even mentioned she had some women who put bricks under their mattress to prop it up. 

In the end you may not be able to fully get relief from heartburn until the little come comes. I am thankful that it is only a season and I am hopeful that this time around I won't struggle with it so badly. With Scarlett it started right after my morning sickness and was so so awful by the end. This time I have had bouts of it but so far it is not as bad as it was with Scarlett.

Even with knowing everything I know, when pregnant with Scarlett I did break down and eat tums a couple of times during the night. But even then they did nothing for me anyways. This pregnancy I am hoping to avoid them altogether. 

Did you have heartburn during pregnancy? What helped you find relief?