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If your pregnancy is anything like mine, you taste your food for a good three hours after you eat it. But that burning sensation in your chest and throat — and that sour, acidic taste in your mouth — isn’t just another coincidence: these are the symptoms of heartburn, and pregnancy heartburn is common. Especially during the last trimester of pregnancy because the upward movement of the enlarging uterus displaces the stomach, causing acids to back up into the esophagus.
Here are 10 things you can do to prevent the burn:
1. Watch What You Eat
Steer clear of fatty, spicy, and deep-fried foods; while some weaken the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing your stomach contents to flow up into your esophagus, others increase the production of stomach acid. And reflux and acid? That’s a no-win combo. But the fun doesn’t stop there: caffeinated and carbonated drinks can also cause heartburn and, while I hate to be the one to tell you this, so can chocolate. Other than that, you should be good to grow, er, go.
2. Make Gravity Work In Your Favor
Sleep with your head and shoulders propped up so that your head and upper body are higher than your feet. This should stop the reflux of acid to the esophagus. It also may help you breathe better, considering you’re pregnant and have a baby squishing your lungs!
3. Eat Less, But More Often
Eating three big meals a day can cause heartburn in anyone, not just pregnant women. So even though I know that giant order of nachos is screaming your name, take it slow — eat some now, and the rest later, lest you want to taste nachos into the night. Plus, consuming several little meals throughout the day not only helps keep acid at bay, it also helps prevent morning sickness as well. (A twofer!) The last thing to remember is to eat your last meal of the day no later than 3 hours before going to bed.
4. Don’t Dine And Lie
I know pregnancy makes you tired, but try not to lie down within 60 minutes after eating a meal. If you absolutely need to, lie on your left side. Simply because of the way our bodies are designed, when you sleep on your left side the acid from your stomach will pass more quickly down into your intestines and will alleviate the acid reflux. Plus, sleeping on your left side will increase the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta and your baby. Keep your legs and knees bent and a pillow between your legs for extra support.
5. Carry Yourself Well
You’re probably in no rush to wear skin-tight clothing because — well — there is a baby growing inside you, but in you are, try to hold out post-baby. Tight clothing may actually increase the pressure on your belly and abdomen, making you more susceptible to acid reflux. And don’t forget to sit up straight — it keeps acid down. (No, I’m not your grandma … but she’s right!)
6. Drink Water Like It’s Your Job
This may seem counterintuitive, but heartburn can actually be a sign of dehydration. If you drink 8 to 10 glasses of water each day you should be fine, except for one caveat: Don’t drink all that water during mealtime. Drinking big portions of fluids all at once can distend the stomach, putting pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter and causing reflux. Yeesh!
7. Chew On It
If your heartburn is super bad, go to the drugstore and bulk up on all your favorite gum flavors because you’re going to want to chew it after every meal. Research shows that chewing gum encourages saliva flow, which can reduce acid levels in the esophagus and may aid in preventing gastroesophageal reflux disease. Gum also consists of valuable bicarbonate, which is helpful in neutralizing the acid that has refluxed into the esophagus. It’ll pull double duty and freshen your breath as well.
8. Do Dairy
Lots of moms find that eating a few spoonfuls of plain yogurt after a meal, or whenever they’re uncomfortable, helps reduce the burning feeling. The results of some early studies even suggest that probiotics found in yogurt could help neutralize the acid in the esophagus. The bacteria in yogurt also help keep your intestines in tip-top shape by killing the bacteria that cause illness. If yogurt isn’t your thing, some women swear by milk or ice cream.
9. Pop Some Papaya
Papaya contains digestive enzymes that soothe the stomach and can be taken in a variety of ways – fresh, dried, canned, juiced, or even in tablet form – plus it’s totally safe to consume while pregnant. You can eat some yummy fresh papaya, drink papaya juice, or just pop a few papaya extract tablets after meals to aid digestion and discourage heartburn. Of course, before you take anything, get your doctor’s approval first.
10. Go Au Natural
Although I spent most of my third trimester popping Tums like candy, lots of expectant mamas swear by home remedies, like baking soda and water. And while I never tried the baking soda, I found that just a glass of water often helped douse what felt like a fire burning in my throat and chest. Other home remedies that women say work: fresh ginger — raw or in tablet form — and fennel tea. If none of these tips work, just remember: this heartburn won’t last forever. The ultimate pregnancy heartburn remedy will be giving birth.