Pregnancy is deemed as the most beautiful phase of a woman’s life. However, just like a two-edged sword, it is also accompanied by some challenges. Acid reflux or heartburn is one of the most common challenges experienced by expecting mothers. In this article, you can find 11 home remedies for acid reflux during pregnancy.
What Is Acid Reflux During Pregnancy?
Acid reflux during pregnancy is a condition in which the stomach acid flows back to the food pipe and irritates its lining resulting in a burning pain in the chest – heartburn. Studies show that around 80% of pregnant women experience heartburn at some stage of their pregnancies.
Heartburn often appears towards the end of the first trimester or during the second trimester. Acidity during pregnancy first trimester is not that common. Any way its frequency and intensity aggravates as the pregnancy progresses. It bothers many mothers during the second half of the pregnancy
Heartburn usually appears after meals or at bedtime, and it can range from mild and irregular to severe, constant, and unbearable. Even then, complications that impede the pregnancy due to acid reflux are very rare.
What Causes Acid Reflux During Pregnancy?
The ring of muscle that separates the esophagus from the stomach is called the lower esophageal sphincter. This muscle acts as a valve, allowing the food to enter the stomach and at the same time preventing food and stomach acid from entering back to the esophagus.
During pregnancy, the level of hormone progesterone hikes. The main function of this hormone is to relax the muscles and ligaments of the uterus so that it can stretch enough to accommodate the growing baby.
However, its effect will not confine to the uterus. On the other hand, these hormones relax the muscles and ligaments all over the body. In that process, the esophageal sphincter muscle also gets relaxed. Therefore, the sphincter becomes too relaxed that it fails to hold the stomach acid and food within the stomach.
Thus the food and harsh digestive juices from the stomach tend to travel back to the esophagus. This irritates the sensitive esophageal lining, causing a burning sensation around the region of the heart (hence the name heartburn).
Another reason for acid reflux especially during the second half of pregnancy is the pressure exerted by the growing womb in the stomach. This force can push the acid up the esophagus.
Eating a heavy meal right before bedtime increases the risk of indigestion. Pregnancy and indigestion at night aggravate acid reflux and pregnancy vomiting. The good news is that pregnancy-induced acid reflux resolves soon after the delivery.
What are the signs of acid reflux during pregnancy?
The signs of acid reflux usually appear soon after eating or drinking. Pregnant women can experience heartburn at any time however it is commonly seen during the second half of pregnancy.
A burning sensation in the chest is the classic sign of acid reflux. Regurgitation –bringing swallowed food back to mouth – is another sign. A lump like sensation in the throat and sour taste in the mouth accompanied by burping or coughing are some important signs of acid reflux. Acid reflux can trigger nausea and vomiting in pregnancy.
11 Home Remedies For Acid Reflux During Pregnancy
There are several types of medications used to relieve heartburn in women who are not pregnant, but not all those medications are safe during pregnancy. Here are 11 home remedies for acid reflux during pregnancy.
1. Yogurt for acid reflux during pregnancy
Eating a small bowl of cool yogurt before or after every meal helps bring down the severity of heartburn. You will get instant relief from heartburn if you ingest a spoonful of yogurt whenever the acid reflux flares up. If you are lactose intolerant, go for lactose-free yogurt
Bananas are low-acid fruit with a neutral pH value (its pH is 5.6). This makes bananas an ideal food to treat heartburn. When you eat a banana, it forms a coating on the irritated esophageal lining. This helps to alleviate the burning sensation in the throat.
Due to their high-fiber content, bananas also enhance bowel movement. And this also directly helps to prevent acid reflux as more time the food remains in the bowel, more acid will be generated and so will be the episodes of acid refluxes.
3. Chewing gum helps to alleviate heartburn
Chewing gum is surprisingly beneficial for combating the ill effects of acid reflux. Researches show that chewing gum for half an hour after every meal reduces the episodes of heartburn. However, you should choose a sugar-free, non-minty gum.
Chewing gum is beneficial to fight off acidity because it increases the production of saliva and bicarbonate in saliva can potentially neutralize excess acid in the esophagus. This will alleviate all the discomforts of heartburn.
Therefore, chewing sugarless gum after meals not only acts as a mouth freshener but it can soothe heartburn. It also helps the chances of cavities as it reduces the acid and sugar level in the mouth.
4. Drink Aloe Vera juice for heartburn during pregnancy
Aloe Vera juice is an excellent coolant. Besides using it externally to bring down the heat rashes, aloe vera juice also has a cooling effect on the stomach. This helps to reduce heartburn. A shot of aloe juice, thus, helps to cool down a reflux flare.
However, keep in mind that even though occasional use of a moderate quantity of (one to two tablespoon) aloe vera juice during pregnancy is not harmful, regular and overconsumption of it is not safe during pregnancy as it can potentially trigger uterine contractions.
Like bananas, melons are all low-acid fruits that are ideal foods to combat acid reflux. Therefore, include watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew in your pregnancy diet. All are alkaline fruits and are a good source of magnesium.
Magnesium is the element that is a key ingredient in many acid reflux medications. Melons have a soothing effect on the digestive system and can provide fast relief from heartburn.
6. Apples for acid reflux during pregnancy
An apple a day not only keeps the doctor away but also keeps acid reflux during pregnancy at bay. It is found that even a single slice of apple can bring down the acid level and soothe the burning sensation.
Apples are rich in magnesium, calcium, and potassium. All these minerals are known for their alkalizing properties. Therefore eating apples loaded with these minerals works very well to neutralize the acid in the stomach and helps to relieve annoying signs of acid reflux.
However, keep in mind that green apples are more acidic and may aggravate acid reflux symptoms. Sweet apples work better than sour varieties when it comes to acid reflux. Apple products like apple juice and apple sauce cannot reduce the acid reflux as fresh slices of sweet apple.
Almonds fall under the category of low-acid food. Almonds are also highly nutritious. Therefore, it can be used to manage heartburn during pregnancy. Eat some almonds after every meal. You can even drink a small glass of almond milk after every meal.
The alkaline composition of almond milk will help to neutralize the excess stomach acids thereby reduce the chances of heartburn. You can even drink it for fast relief when the heartburn sets in.
8. Fennel seeds
Fennel seeds are well known for their ability to curb acid reflux. They are a key ingredient in many ayurvedic medicines for acid reflux. Chewing on a teaspoon of fennel seeds after lunch and dinner help to fight off acid reflux.
You can also drink fennel seed tea for instant relief when acid reflux flares up. To make fennel tea, to the boiling water add two teaspoons of crushed fennel seeds. Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. If needed, you can add a pinch of sugar. Drinking fennel tea will give you instant relief from heartburn.
However, never use more than one teaspoon of fennel seeds during pregnancy. Overconsumption of fennel seeds is not safe during pregnancy.
Ginger aids in resolving many digestive issues. Ginger can speed up digestion, regulate digestive juices, and tighten the lower esophageal sphincter. Therefore, it is excellent to combat acid reflux.
Chewing a small piece of raw ginger after peeling the skin and washing thoroughly, helps to relieve heartburn. You can also have ginger tea for fast relief from acid reflux. A dash of lemon and honey can ease its strong flavor.
However, never drink more than two cups of ginger tea per day (one at a time) during pregnancy. It should be an occasional remedy rather than an everyday solution. Overconsumption of ginger is not safe during pregnancy.
10. Coconut water
Fresh coconut water is well known for its ability to ease stomach related issues. Coconut water is a natural acid neutralizer and can bring quick and instant relief from acid reflux.
While consuming this tropical fruit, a mucous layer is formed in the lining of the stomach. This protects the stomach from excessive stomach acid. Coconut water is beneficial for expecting mothers as it is loaded with nutrients and is a natural electrolyte.
11. Basil leaves
Basil leaves are counted as one of the best Indian home remedies for acidity during pregnancy. Basil leaves are also well known for its ability to curb gas formation. By sipping basil tea frequently or by chewing fresh basil leaves after meals you can effectively deal with acid reflux during pregnancy.
To make basil leaves tea, boil handful of basil leaves in a cup of water and let it simmer for 10 minutes. No need to worry about frequent consumption as this herb is safe to have during pregnancy.