Heartburn in pregnancy is very common. As the uterus expands, it pushes the rest of the organs out of the way. The stomach gets shifted upwards. Also, during pregnancy hormones are released to help a woman’s body to prepare for an expanding fetus and eventually birth by relaxing muscles, tendons, and tissue. These same hormones relax the esophageal sphincter. The esophageal sphincter, when closed, provides a barrier between the stomach and esophagus keeping stomach acid and undigested food in the stomach where it belongs. Heartburn occurs when undigested food that is mixed with stomach acid creeps back up the esophagus and causes irritation in the esophagus, which is a more delicate tissue than the stomach. A protective mucousal barrier protects the stomach lining from hydrochloric acid.
It can be quite uncomfortable to experience heartburn in pregnancy, it adds one more layer to the general uncomfortable-ness felt during the length of pregnancy. Since most herbs are not recommended for pregnant woman, this list will avoid herbs. Even if you are not pregnant, these techniques will be helpful for reducing heartburn. What are some strategies for reducing or eliminating heartburn?
-Take a digestive enzyme with every meal to aid in digestion.
-If heartburn occurs, consume 1 T. of apple cider vinegar mixed with 1/2 c. of water. The esophageal sphincter closes in the presence of a low pH.
-Eat a low-carbohydrate meal for dinner. Carbohydrates are not digested in the stomach, but rather, further down the GI tract. By limiting carbohydrates in the evening, carbohydrates will not be sitting in the stomach waiting to descend beyond the stomach, taking up digestive space and putting pressure on the esophageal sphincter as you lay down for the evening. This creates less of a chance that heartburn will occur.
-Eat dinner by 6pm, so that when you lay down for the evening your stomach will be empty.
-If you regularly consumed it before pregnancy, drink 4 oz of Kombucha after a meal.
-Sleep in an elevated position using pillows to prop-up your head and chest.
These recommendations are for educational purposes only. They are not intended as treatment or prescription for any disease, or as a substitute for regular medical care.