Pregnancy can bring you into some pretty rough territory, especially in the last trimester. Not only does it get harder to sleep, but the heartburn you get can make it difficult to eat, too. Heartburn during pregnancy can be consistent and hard to treat, but despite your frustration, there are certain things to avoid if you have heartburn during pregnancy, including certain remedies and foods. (I know. Just add it to the list.)
First, it’s important to understand why heartburn is so common during pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), the increased levels of progesterone in your system during pregnancy can cause the valve responsible for regulating stomach acid to relax. When the valve relaxes, the article noted, acids from your stomach come back up into your esophagus, causing you to feel that burning sensation. (Or, if you believe the old wives' tales, it's just that your baby's going to be born with a head full of hair.)
It's mighty uncomfortable, but with a few lifestyle changes and tweaks, you can reduce your heartburn symptoms. If your heartburn is becoming unmanageable, talk to your doctor about what will work best for you. In the meantime, try to avoid these five things, because they could make your situation worse.
1. Never Take Medications Without A Doctor’s Permission
There are countless over-the-counter medications available for heartburn, but not all of them are safe to take during pregnancy. In an interview with Romper, Chicago area pharmacist Bineesh Moyeed says that some of the drugs available to treat heartburn should be avoided because they haven’t been proven to be 100 percent safe for pregnant women and their babies.
Moyeed says proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), which include popular heartburn drugs like Prilosec and Nexium, have a category C rating, which means that it isn’t fully known whether the drugs will harm the baby if taken during pregnancy. “During pregnancy, you should never take any medications without your doctor’s prescription and approval,” says Moyeed, “regardless if it is over-the-counter or not.”
Moyeed says that prevention methods, like avoiding heartburn-causing foods and staying upright and active after meals, can be a natural way to manage symptoms. But if you are still dealing with pain, Moyeed suggests asking your doctor about taking an antacid like Tums for some quick relief.
2. Never Eat Foods That Can Make It Worse
As much as you’d like to eat that whole plate of nachos, if you’ve been dealing with heartburn, it’s best that you avoid it like the plague. According to Fit Pregnancy, heartburn is triggered by acidic foods, which include citrus fruits, alcohol, chocolate, greasy or spicy foods, and carbonated or caffeinated beverages.
So what kind of foods can you eat? Fit Pregnancy suggested that liquid-like foods are easier on the stomach, so smoothies, soups, and yogurts should be OK to eat.
3. Never Eat Huge Meals
Navigating how much you eat can be tough when you're pregnant. You’re starving all the time, but when you eat a lot, you end up with heartburn pain. Your digestive system slows down during pregnancy, explained What To Expect, so when you eat big meals, it can take a really long time to digest and add to your heartburn. Instead of eating three big meals a day, the article suggested eating five or six smaller meals throughout the day to minimize and prevent those heartburn woes.
4. Never Lie Down Right After Eating
Pregnancy is tiring, and naturally, you may want to take a nap or go to sleep after eating a satisfying meal. But if you're dealing with the torturous pain of pregnancy heartburn, you should avoid lying down after you eat. Try to eat your meals about two to three hours before going to sleep, suggested Baby Center, because this gives your body time to digest the food. The article also recommended sleeping with your body propped up on pillows if you are experiencing heartburn, because a more angled or upright position will help keep your stomach acids down.
5. Never Smoke
There are a zillion reasons to quit smoking during pregnancy, but if you haven’t already, make your heartburn an excuse to quit. Along with putting you and your baby at risk for a number of serious health conditions, Baby Center noted that smoking can also contribute to heartburn because it can increase the production of acids in your stomach. If you are smoking while pregnant, talk to your doctor about what methods and support you can use to help you quit.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.