Natural ways to combat heartburn 

natural ways to combat heartburn

Most pregnant women will experience heartburn at some stage of their pregnancy – especially in their third trimester when baby is taking up more space and putting more pressure on your stomach.

Why do you get heartburn?

Heartburn is the process of stomach acid going back up your esophagus and giving you a “burning” sensation. Stomach acid is normal. We need it to break down food and to fight bacteria in our food. However, during pregnancy, the hormone progesterone slows down our digestion and loosens the opening between our stomach and our esophagus. This slowing down and loosening of your digestive tract is why stomach acid can go back the wrong way, especially in the third trimester when your baby is taking up more space and putting more pressure on your intestines and stomach. 

What can you do?

Here are 5 natural tips and tricks to prevent heartburn. 

1.    Eat smaller meals

Now that I’m in my third trimester, I’m almost guaranteed to get heartburn if I eat too large a meal. Instead, I try to eat slowly (chewing also helps prevent heartburn) until I feel full but not stuffed.If I haven’t finished my meal, I set it aside and come back to it in an hour or two when I’m hungry again. Eating smaller meals but more frequently seems to be the trick to preventing heartburn. 

2.    Don’t eat too late

Just like eating a large meal, if I eat too close to my bedtime, I’m guaranteed to get heartburn. I’ve had to change my dinner time to early evening, and then have a small snack of non-acidic foods if I’m still hungry closer to my bed time (see below for some snack ideas).

3.    Lie on your left-side

If you have to lie down shortly after a meal, lie on your left-side. Not only is this better for your circulation (and a good way to prevent varicose veins), but it also reduces the likelihood of heartburn. The opening between your stomach and your esophagus is on the right-hand side of your stomach. So, if you’re lying on your right, it’s much easier for stomach acid to go back up your esophagus and give you heartburn. If I have to lie down, I lie on my left-hand side and prop myself up with pillows so my heart is higher than my stomach. It works a charm. 

4.    Avoid acidic foods

Acidic foods can trigger heartburn or make it worse. What are the worse culprits? Citrus fruits and tomatoes. I try and avoid these from late afternoon onwards. Fried foods also sit in your stomach for longer, increasing your chance of heartburn, so be mindful of this if you’re going to have to sit or lie down shortly after you have fried foods. 

5.    Have alkaline snacks

Just like acidic foods can trigger heartburn, alkaline foods can help prevent it. If you’re going to have a just-before-bed snack, here are your best options: 

·     Bananas

·     Oatmeal

·     Brown rice 

·     Potatoes 

·     Raw almonds or almond milk

I personally love having a banana with a glass of unsweetened almond milk as a late night (or middle of the night) snack. Alternatively, try a small bowl of oatmeal with some sliced banana or try my banana oatmeal and raisin muffins that are perfect for an any-time-of-day snack. 

Happy (heartburn-free) eating!