…cause I got a terrible case of heartburn!
Actually, I am grateful that I no longer suffer from heartburn, but let me tell you, when I was pregnant…holy molly! Heartburn was an unwelcome guest that moved in and made itself at home.
For some of you this might be waaaaayyy too much information! But this post is dedicated to all my mommas-to-be out there who are dealing with this irritating discomfort.
Please keep in mind that I am not a doctor. So please check with your healthcare professional about any and all recommendations I mention. My intent is to share my experience with you and offer you solutions that worked for me. So let’s get to it.
Why do so many pregnant women get heartburn? Well, in short, it has a lot to do with your hormones. During pregnancy, the placenta produces the hormone progesterone, which helps to relax the muscles in the uterus. However, it also relaxes other muscles, including the valve that separates the stomach from the esophagus. This relaxation of the valve allows acid to seep up into the esophagus, leaving an uncomfortable burning sensation known as heartburn.
The further along you get into your pregnancy, another factor comes into play. And in this case it all comes down to space. As your little one grows bigger and bigger, they begin to crowd your abdominal cavity, pushing the stomach acids back up into the esophagus. And unfortunately, at this point, true relief probably won’t come until after the baby is born. But let’s face it, it’s a small price to pay for growing a human being inside your body :)
Before Harper started taking over my belly, there were some things that I found helpful that provided me with some temporary belief. There was a hierarchy of remedies that I used depending on the severity of my discomfort. I started with the most natural solution and then worked up to over the counter medications when things got to their worst. Everything that I used was considered safe during pregnancy.
1. Chewing Gum: I know it seems strange, but gum was very helpful in reducing my heartburn symptoms. Chewing gun after eating helps to stimulate your salivary glands. Saliva can help to neutralize acid. So I was constantly chomping on a stick of gum.
2. Liquid Aloe: Aloe helps to maintain a healthy digestive tract. Not only is it helpful in calming the discomfort of heartburn when used as directed, but its beneficial for your health overall. I used George’s “Always Active Aloe”. It has no bitterness, tastes like water and requires no refrigeration. I was able to find it at my local health food store.
3. Papaya Enzyme: During my pregnancy, I knew many mamas who found these to be very helpful. Papaya contains the enzyme papain. Papain is a powerful protein digesting enzyme that aids in proper digestion and absorption of foods. Therefore it helps to alleviate heartburn when taken with food. I tried these for a while and didn’t quite find the relief I needed, but it is always worth a shot.
4. Tums: For immediate relief, I found Tums to work best. I continued to take my liquid aloe twice a day which was helpful, but Tums worked great for an on the spot remedy. I carried them with me wherever I went. And I always had a bottle next to my bed. Tums helped me get through the majority of my pregnancy. But in the last few weeks I needed to up the ante a bit.
5. Zantac: I did my best to stay away from medications, but it got to the point where I couldn’t even lay down anymore I was so uncomfortable. So my doctor suggested I try Zantac. And it worked…wonders! It helped me to get the rest at night that I needed in order to get ready for Harper’s arrival.
In addition to experimenting with the above oral remedies, I made a lot of changes to my diet and lifestyle to help reduce my discomfort. Here is a short summary of a great list I found on babycenter.com
1. Avoid food and beverages that cause gastrointestinal distress. Some examples are carbonated drinks; caffeine; chocolate; acidic foods such as citrus, tomatoes, mustard ,and vinegar; processed meats; mint products; spicy, highly seasoned, fried or fatty foods.
2. Try to eat smaller meals throughout the day. Make sure you take your time to eat and chew your food thoroughly.
3. Drink less fluids during your meals. Instead, sip your liquids between meals.
4. Make sure you leave enough time between your last meal and your bed time. Giving yourself time to digest your food before you lie down can help insure your meal doesn’t creep back up on you while you are sleeping.
5. Sleeping propped up with several pillows or a wedge can help keep your stomach acids where they belong. You can also try propping your entire bed up so that it is at an angle. You might want to ask your hubby to help you with this one.
Finally, seeking help from alternative practitioners can provide ongoing relief. I was grateful to establish a relationship with a chiropractor who specialized in prenatal care. I saw her 1-2x/week throughout my entire pregnancy for existing back pain. But she was also able to provide me with adjustments that assisted with my digestion problems as well. In addition to chiropractic care, I also sought help from an acupuncturist. I started acupuncture during the last month of my pregnancy. I was being treated for a multitude of things, including my gestational diabetes, but she was able to include points that would help to sooth my digestion issues as well.
In the moment, I can remember being in a lot of discomfort. But looking back of course, it was all worth it. Some or none of these suggestions may work for you. Just remember, whatever you are experiencing is temporary. When you become pregnant, your body is no longer yours. You have been transformed into a baby making machine. So if you can surrender, and do your best to make it through, I promise you it will be over before you know it. And one day you will look back, and actually miss it…which is why we end up doing it all over again :)