Several old wives’ tales claim to reveal one thing or another about your growing baby. But as fun, as they might be to consider, there isn’t much truth to most of them. Well, except for one (maybe). According to one study from 2020, there may actually be a connection between heartburn during pregnancy and having a baby with more hair. The truth remains to be seen!
Heartburn is a common pregnancy symptom. In one study, up to 72% of pregnant women experienced heartburn in the third trimester. Even if it means potentially giving birth to a baby with thick, flowing locks of hair, most women aren’t exactly comforted by heartburn symptoms.
Heartburn feels like burning in your chest. That discomfort can sometimes move up your throat and leave an unpleasant taste in your mouth. Despite its name, heartburn isn’t related to your heart. It results from acid reflux, which happens when the acid from your stomach moves up into your esophagus.
Your esophagus is the tube responsible for carrying food, liquid, and even saliva to your stomach. A muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is located at the bottom of your esophagus, where it meets your stomach. The LES opens to let food in and then closes to prevent stomach acids from escaping into your esophagus. If the LES is malfunctioning in some way, the acid will get into your esophagus, causing the burning feeling you recognize as heartburn.
A variety of factors may cause heartburn, but a few simple dietary changes may help prevent it or provide some relief when symptoms appear.
5 Foods To Reduce Heartburn During Pregnancy
Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing frequent heartburn during your pregnancy. They can help you develop management strategies that are right for you and safe during pregnancy.
In the meantime, adding one or more foods to your diet can help reduce symptoms when experiencing heartburn or reflux.
This root is a well-known remedy for nausea and upset stomach, but did you know it may also relieve heartburn? Ginger has the natural ability to reduce inflammation. Ginger may prove to be a helpful relief when dealing with acid reflux and heartburn because of this. Inflammation in the esophagus is one of the key features of these conditions. Ginger tea could be an excellent beverage to try after a meal.
Try a warm glass of milk for some quick heartburn relief. Dairy can be tricky because sometimes it’s a heartburn trigger, and it provides excellent relief for others. While we usually recommend full-fat dairy choices, you may want to experiment with different types of milk and varying fat content (skim, 1%, 2%, whole) before deciding if dairy is helpful for you or not.
Almonds are a less acidic food choice and may provide relief from heartburn. A handful of almonds is a good source of fiber, healthy monounsaturated fats, and other beneficial nutrients for pregnant women. So, it’s worth a shot! Try grabbing a handful of almonds next time you’re experiencing heartburn.
Bananas are a great choice for those experiencing gastroesophageal reflux. Many fruit choices, especially citrus fruits, are more acidic. Bananas contain minimal acid and are considered to be a more alkaline food choice. They are a good source of vitamin B6, which can be a helpful nutrient when dealing with pregnancy nausea.
Yogurt is already a great food to eat during pregnancy. As long as you choose the right kind, yogurt is a healthy snack loaded with essential nutrients like calcium and protein. Yogurt can also be a great source of probiotics, or good bacteria, that improve your gut health and support a healthy pregnancy.
Yogurt can also be an effective natural remedy for heartburn. As mentioned above, with milk, dairy is a lifesaver to combat heartburn and reflux for some people. With its cool and soothing texture, it can provide some quick relief. However, for some people, it’s a heartburn trigger (bummer)! It’s all about experimenting with what works best for you.
What Causes Heartburn During Pregnancy
The exact reason why heartburn occurs during pregnancy is not 100% clear, but these five factors play a role or maybe a potential cause.
Hormones, particularly progesterone, are, at least in part, responsible for many of the things you experience during pregnancy, including heartburn. Pregnancy hormones can cause the LES, or lower esophageal sphincter, to relax, allowing stomach acid into the esophagus.
Progesterone also plays a role in slowing the digestive process. This means food can move more slowly through your digestive system, and your stomach takes longer to empty. Perhaps your digestive system is intentionally working slower to give your body more time to absorb vital nutrients for your baby. Either way, unfortunately, slower digestion can also lead to heartburn.
To help reduce heartburn caused by slower digestion, avoid lying down right after eating and try to finish your last meal at least two to three hours before bedtime. It may also help to go for a short ten to fifteen-minute walk after meals.
Growing Uterus + Baby
There’s less room during pregnancy! There’s a growing baby, an expanding uterus, and more! With your uterus taking up more room in your abdomen, things tend to get a bit crowded – especially in the third trimester. This lack of space will often put more pressure on your stomach and force stomach acid into your esophagus.
Fried, Spicy, or Greasy Foods
While not specific to pregnant women, certain foods can trigger heartburn. Some foods contribute to heartburn more than others. Everyone is different, but typical “trigger foods” include fried, spicy, and greasy foods.
Common culprits include citrus fruits, onions, tomatoes, chocolate, coffee, peppermint, alcohol, and carbonated beverages. As mentioned above, spicy dishes and greasy and fried foods may also be culprits.
To reduce the likelihood of experiencing heartburn, try to identify your “trigger foods.” As mentioned, everyone is different, but keeping a food journal for a few days can help determine which foods may be causing an issue for you.
Tell me about your experience with heartburn during pregnancy below!
I want to hear more about your experience with heartburn and what remedies have worked for you. If you’re interested in learning more about how simple dietary changes can help you manage common pregnancy symptoms, like heartburn, I encourage you to join The Prenatal Nutrition Library. It’s the most comprehensive library of prenatal nutrition information around.