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Heartburn and Acid Reflux During Pregnancy - What Is It And How To Deal With It?

Pregnancy is a period of Sturm and Drang. With hormones playing with you in the most unexpected way, it is a stage when you would have episodes of common yet bizarre symptoms - from a small acne on your face to bigger problems such as severe dehydration. And to that bumpy pregnancy ride, when problems like indigestion, heartburn, acidity, acid reflux, stomach acne adds on, it could make the journey altogether worse. But to help you understand the acid reflux during pregnancy and heartburn during pregnancy, we are providing all the information you need to know.

Table of Contents:

- What is Acid Reflux, GERD and Heartburn
- Difference between Acid Reflux, GERD and Heartburn
- Home Remedies of Acid Reflux
- Home Remedies of Heartburn

What is Acid Reflux, GERD and Heartburn?

Heartburn, Acid Reflux and GERD - the terms are often used interchangeably although they have different meanings.

Acid reflux during pregnancy is a common medical condition during pregnancy which could range from mild to serious in severity. GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is an extreme form of acid reflux. It's chronic and severe. Heartburn is one of the acid reflux symptoms.

Difference between Acid Reflux, GERD and Heartburn:

Acid Reflux:

Our body has a circular muscle called as lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This muscle connects esophagus and stomach. The main function of this muscle is to tighten after the food passes through it to the stomach. In case, this muscle doesn’t tighten properly, the digestive acids could move backward i.e. into your esophagus. This is called acid reflux and it could cause acid reflux symptoms. During pregnancy, the hormones play a major role in this process. They allow the muscles in the esophagus, including LES, relax more frequently causing acidity or acid reflux during pregnancy.

Although major symptom of acidity or acid reflux during pregnancy is heartburn, the other symptoms are: Cough, Sore throat, Bitter taste at the back of throat, Sour taste in the mouth, Burning in the chest or the pressure extending up the breastbone.

[Read more: How To Deal With Acid Reflux In Toddlers]

GERD:

GERD, the chronic form of acid reflux, is diagnosed when acid reflux occurs more than two times in a week. It could cause the inflammation in the esophagus. GERD could lead to long term damage of the esophagus and in turn it could cause cancer.

GERD and heartburn during pregnancy is very common but it rarely causes complications and generally goes away as soon as the baby is born.

Some of the symptoms of GERD are: Heartburn, Bad breath, damage of tooth enamel due to excess acid, chest pain or burning sensation, dry cough, asthma.

Heartburn:

Heartburn never causes burning in the heart. In fact, it has nothing to do with heart other than its name being “HEARTBURN”.

Heartburn, also called acid indigestion, is related to the digestive system. It is a symptom of Acid reflux or GERD. Heartburn is a sharp, burning pain with a chest tightening sensation. It varies from mild severe and often, mistaken as a heart attack pain. And why is that? It is because the lining in the esophagus is more delicate than the lining of the stomach. And the acid that moves up from stomach is very strong to be handled by esophagus lining. This causes the burning sensation in chest. Heartburn usually occurs after eating.

During pregnancy, heartburn is one of the most commonly encountered problems. Progesterone is a hormone which relaxes the muscles and during pregnancy, it also relaxes stomach valves leading do indigestion and acid reflux during pregnancy and that in turn causing heartburn. Additionally, the growing uterus forces the stomach acids and also bits of undigested food to the esophagus, creating more of heartburn during pregnancy.

The treatment for indigestion, acid reflux, GERD or heartburn is mostly by changing the lifestyle. Antacids or OTC medications could also help but if the symptom is severe, it is always best to first-hand advise of your doctor.

Home Remedies of Acid Reflux 

Pregnancy is a period when you would always look out for healthy options to treat all of the health problems and certainly, home remedies is your way. Here are a few home remedies to treat acid reflux during pregnancy.

1. Probiotics: Probiotics acts as gastric acid balancer. The good bacteria in probiotics work on removing the harmful bacteria such as H. Pylori from your gut and treats acid indigestion and also, it helps in improving the digestion. You can have it either in the form of supplements or fermented products such as dairy products (yogurt, sour cream) or fermented veggies.

2. Raw Apple Cider Vinegar: A quick relief for the acid reflux symptoms is drinking raw apple cider vinegar. Consuming 2 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a glass of water every day could save you from acid reflux and acid indigestion during pregnancy.

3. Aloe Vera Juice: Aloe vera juice treats all sorts of digestive disorders and provide soothing relief. But ensure the aloe you use is organic and fresh. Blending the fresh, peeled aloe and drinking every day could help in treating the heartburn during pregnancy.

4. Marshmallow Tea: Are you fan of sweet treats? Then, this is definitely for you! Have this heavenly treat and soothe your taste glands and also soothe your heartburn. The marshmallow has a compound that could provide a protective barrier for your internal organs and shield you from the inflammation.

5. Mastic: This “Arabic gum” or “Yemen gum” is a raisin obtained from Mastic tree. While consumed in low dose, it treats stomach ulcers. And higher dose kills H Pylori bacteria (the bacteria that causes acid reflux, acid indigestion, heartburn). To treat acid reflux during pregnancy, take 3 g of Mastic every day.

6. Baking Soda: Baking soda has been known in traditional medicines for its antacid property. It could defend you against the acid reflux and heartburn and provide you immediate relief from the discomfort and inflammation. But frequent usage of baking soda is not advisable.

7. Ginger: Ginger is known for its ability to treat gastrointestinal problems. It fights against the bacteria which could cause the acid reflux during pregnancy and offers gastroprotective effect on your stomach. Ginger can be consumed in various forms - by chewing on ginger root or drinking ginger tea with honey or gingerale.

8. Regulate Hydrochloric acid levels: The heartburn during pregnancy could also be because of low production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. It could be regulated by using different foods such as natural high-quality sea salts or cabbage juice.

Home Remedies of Heartburn:

Heartburn or acid indigestion could be soothed by having a small and simple changes in your day-to-day lifestyle.

1. What you eat matters: Heartburn during pregnancy could be triggered by specific foods such as peppermint, caffeine, soda, citrus fruits, high-fat foods, etc. Watching out for such foods and consuming more protein-rich, fibrous and good-for-your-stomach kind of foods could keep your digestive system healthy and fit. Also, make sure your each meal is of small portion size and with small intervals in between.

2. Chew gum: Consider chewing non-mint gum after each meal. It could help in producing more saliva in the mouth and also, keeps the acid out of the esophagus.

3. Watch out when you eat: It is best to not to eat anything at least 2-3 hours before the bedtime. Because lying down or bending after food could worsen your heartburn. If you don’t sleep at least for 2-3 hours, you stomach will have the chance to empty itself before you lie down.

4. Explore herbal remedies: A few herbs are known for their ability to treat acid indigestion or heartburn during pregnancy and other acid reflux symptoms. Some of them are: Chamomile, licorice, marshmallow, slippery elm. Those could be either consumed in the form of supplement or used in tincture form or as teas. But there is a chance of these herbal remedies interfering with the medications. So, check with your doctor before using it.

5. Quit smoking: Smoking could adversely affect the muscles functioning and thereby affecting the effectiveness of LES as well. So, if you are pregnant and if you are suffering from acid reflux, it is high time to quit smoking.

6. Ditch tight-clothing: Tight clothes such as tight-jeans, tight belts could add on pressure on your belly. It affects your baby as well as you. It increases the number of acid reflux episodes. So, for the sake of your belly, loosen up your clothes.

During Pregnancy, health is a top priority. And every mom-to-be makes every possible effort to keep it at its best. So, with the above home remedies, soothe yourself from inflammation, acid reflux and heartburn and keep yourself safe. Happy Pregnancy!

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