Heartburn During Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a magical time but also one often filled with niggling discomforts. You may be over the first trimester morning sickness only to be greeted with heartburn. Heartburn (also referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disorder or GERD for short) is a common occurrence during pregnancy affecting over 50% of pregnancy women. It more likely to affect women who have experienced heartburn prior to pregnancy, but can also affect women who have never experienced it before.
Why We Get Heartburn
Its cause is often due to two factors.
The first is baby taking up real estate right near the stomach, thereby placing extra pressure on it.
The other has to do with the effects of pregnancy hormones on the valve that separates the stomach from the esophagus called the ‘esophageal sphincter’.
The job of this valve is to keep food in the stomach. In pregnancy, we have extra amounts of a hormone called progesterone running around our body. This star hormone of pregnancy (think ‘pro-gestation’) has many roles. It’s most important being a muscle relaxant.
A relaxed womb makes for a safe haven for baby.
A relaxed esophageal sphincter means that the stomach contents can’t stay in its place. Our bodies are so clever, but haven’t quite mastered that valve yet!
How Can We Manage Heartburn
As you can see pregnancy is a perfect storm for heartburn.
Luckily simple dietary and habit tweaking can make a big difference! And there are many herbal medicines that can bring comfort naturally.
Help Cool Down the Burn- Naturally
Following these 6 helpful guidelines can bring you a great deal of relief and may allow you to either stop or reduce the need for antacid medications.
#1. Adopt a new eating mantra
Eat small and regular meals.
Do not drink liquid with meals.
Bring your full attention to your food.
Rinse and repeat!
#2. Harness the power of gravity.
Do not lie down within two hours of meals.
Sleep with two pillows.
#3. Say goodbye to heartburn-triggering foods.
These (sadly) include:
– Spicy and heavy foods.
– Black tea and coffee (even decaffeinated)
– Tomatoes and chills and all related products
#4. Snack on almonds throughout the day.
It’s an old wives trick that can be effective for many. A small glass of almond milk can be useful too.
#5. Natural yogurt.
Finish your larger meals with natural yogurt. Nothing with extra sugar or flavors ladies.
#6. Stock your home pharmacy with these pregnancy safe herbs.
Slippery elm lozenges are a useful trick to keep in your handbag and next to your bed. This powder comes from the inner bark of an American species of elm. It is soothing, cooling and healing to the tissues of the esophagus as well as being highly nutritious. Make sure to and suck on the lozenge slowly (I like Thayer’s slippery elm lozenges)
Marshmallow & Chamomile ( ingredients found in MaterniTeas Trimester 2 and Trimester 3 blends)
A beautiful soothing combination of herbs is marshmallow root and chamomile flowers. If heartburn is affecting your sleep you can also add some skullcap or passionflower.
Natural home remedy recipe
To a saucepan add:
3 teaspoons of marshmallow root
3 teaspoons of chamomile
3 teaspoons of skullcap or passionflower (if affecting sleep)
3 cups of water
Allow to sit overnight. In the morning, bring the saucepan to simmer. Turn off heat and pour the mixture into either a teapot or french press. Allow to stand for 15-20 minutes. Strain and drink throughout the day. You can enjoy this hot of cold. For working women, fill up a glass or stainless steel water bottle to take into work and sip on throughout the day. MaterniTea-To-Go flasks are perfect for this.
This method allows you to extract the most amount of medicine from the plants, if you are short on time.
Would you like some more personalised, specific guidance? Book in with our naturopath for a private consultation here.
**If you are experiencing persistent chest pain, please seek immediate medical attention.**
by Clara Bitcon BNat(SCU) MNHAA