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October 3, 2014

Acid Indigestion During Pregnancy - How to Soothe and Prevent

Pregnant WomanAcid indigestion (also known as acid reflux) is very common during pregnancy. It affects more than 50% of all pregnant women. It occurs when the stomach acid makes its way up to the esophagus instead of remaining in the stomach. You can also blame it on your hormones - progesterone slows down the digestive system. Combining that with the pressure of your baby makes the possibility of getting acid indigestion very high.

I am currently pregnant with my fourth child and I have to say that this is the first pregnancy I've experienced acid reflux and heartburn. I find it very annoying and uncomfortable. I actually have it right now - which is what inspired me to write this post. I've felt this way since I woke up from a nap quite a few hours ago and for the past hour or so, I have been reading several articles on heartburn and acid reflux during pregnancy. I am determined to find the best ways to soothe acid reflux.

Before anything, I have to say that even though some say to avoid drinking milk - drinking a glass of milk while having heartburn has helped me more then 70% of the time. I haven't tried it yet while having acid reflux. 

Things to avoid:

  • Peppermint and spearmint (even tea) - Although peppermint is known to be soothing to the stomach, it actually loosens the esophagus muscle, which makes it easier for stomach acid to make its way up.
  • Stay away from spicy, greasy, and fried foods - I think we've all heard this one.. but do you know why? Foods such as pizza are high in fat and have high acid content - the combination is an invitation for acid reflux or heartburn. The muscle that protects the connection of the esophagus and stomach loses tone after eating foods high in fat. The acid content in foods combined with high stomach acid causes the acid levels to rise into the esophagus - causing acid reflux. *some studies show that spicy foods do not cause acid reflux. However, eating spicy food while having an irritated esophagus, will cause it to burn on the way down. 
  • Citrus foods - Fruits such as oranges or orange juice, grapefruit, tomatoes, pineapple, lemon, and lime. Garlic and raw onions should also be avoided. Along with tomatoes; you should avoid tomato based foods such as salsa, chili, tomato sauce and juice, and pizza sauce.
    Sliced grapefuit
  • Carbonated drinks, alcohol, coffee, tea, and citrus juices - even decaffeinated coffee can cause problems. Carbonated drinks increase stomach distention (drinking water will distend your stomach too, but carbonated drinks will distend it twice as much), which can cause stomach acid to be pushed up to the esophagus. Soda is acidic alone. Consuming one can of soda increases stomach acid for a period of 53.5 minutes. Now imagine how much acid you're exposed to for each soda you drink.. now think that most people who drink soda, drink more then one can a day!
  • Chocolate - Chocolate chemically changes the esophagus muscle the same way peppermint does. It loosens the muscle, which triggers acid reflux.  
  • Some medications are known to cause acid reflux as well - iron and potassium supplements, antibiotics, aspirin and other pain relievers, nitrates, and more. 

How to soothe:
  • Believe it or not, there are foods that can reduce acid reflux. 
Ginger root
  1. Oatmeal
  2. Ginger (including ginger ale or ginger candy) - throughout history it has been used as an anti-inflammatory and as a treatment for gastrointestinal problems. Also known to curb morning sickness!
  3. Aloe Vera - famous for its natural healing abilities; it also seems to cure acid reflux.
  4. Salads - salads can do you good but remember to avoid tomatoes, cheese, onions, and high fat dressings.
  5. Bananas - is a great way to soothe acid reflux. However, a study showed that 1% of acid refluxers found bananas to worsen their condition. 
  6. Melon (includes honeydew, cantaloupe and watermelon) - just like the banana, 1-2% of people with acid reflux need to avoid it. 
  7. Fennel
  8. Chicken or Turkey - can be soothing if the skin is removed and is either baked, boiled, sauteed or grilled - not fried!
  9. Seafood and Fish - as long as it's not fried; you're good. Shellfish is okay too. 
  10. Roots and Greens - pretty much all of your green veggies will help with acid reflux. 
  • Eat small meals - instead of eating 3 large meals daily, aim for 5-6 smaller meals daily.
  • Take time to enjoy your food (avoid eating fast) - eating fast causes heartburn and indigestion; taking it slow will not only help with curbing acid reflux, but will also help to avoid overeating. 
  • Sip liquids - remember to avoid liquids that cause acid reflux. 
  • Relax after eating - stay in a sitting position or stand. Laying down or bending over can cause acid to flow right up to your esophagus. 
  • Don't eat before bed - would apply to 'relaxing after eating'. Don't lay down!
  • Try sleeping with head and upper chest elevated - will help keep stomach acids where they belong.
  • Take note of known acid reflux triggers - If you know what triggers your acid reflux then it will make it so much easier to avoid it. 
  • Wear loose fitting clothing - a no-brainer when you're pregnant, right? Wearing tight clothing adds even more pressure to the abdomen, which can cause stomach acid levels to rise. 
  • Try an antacid such as Tums or Maalox - avoid antacids containing aluminum. Antacids containing calcium and magnesium are safe during pregnancy. Also stay clear from baking soda, as it causes swelling. 
  • If you can't find anything that works, try talking to your doctor about a more powerful medication, such as Zantac.


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