10 ways to beat pregnancy heartburn

Along with piles, morning sickness and swollen ankles, pregnancy indigestion is one of those tedious discomforts some women have to deal with when they're expecting. But there are ways to keep it at bay

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  • The first step towards lessening any heartburn you suffer during pregnancy is to adjust your eating habits to compensate for your smaller, restricted stomach and the weaker top stomach valve. Then you need to look at how much you eat, cut out any bad habits and even examine your wardrobe

  • 1. Eat smaller meals

    Avoid overloading your stomach by eating less at each sitting. You might find that switching to five or six smaller meals rather than three main meals works better for your digestion.

  • 2. Don't drink too much with your meals

    Fluids take up stomach space and dilute your stomach acids, making them less effective, so try drinking less with your meals.

  • 3. But drink plenty of water

    Do keep up a good water intake throughout the day, leaving half an hour each side of mealtimes, as this will help you with your overall digestion.

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  • 4. Avoid acid-causing foods

    Rich, heavy, spicy, fatty, creamy and sugary foods are all quite likely to cause heartburn. Obviously rich, fatty and sugary foods will be some of the worst culprits. Tomatoes (sauces) and onions (often raw) are a common cause of heartburn as are citrus fruit juices (and sometimes the fruits themselves) such as orange, lemon and grapefruit and very sour fruits (like cranberry) as well as some berries. Alcohol, caffeine and sugary fizzy drinks are also likely to aggravate symptoms, and you may find that decaff versions of tea and coffee aren't much better.

    Those are just some of the likely culprits, be aware of your own sensitivities by taking note of how what you eat affects you, and then avoid or cut back on those foods which give you problems.

  • 5. Aim for better pre-digestion

    To lessen heartburn you want to digest your food better, and good digestion starts before food even reaches your mouth. This is because your body starts producing the appropriate stomach acids according to your senses of smell and taste. So try eating more simple meals, cutting your food up into smaller pieces and chewing longer and more slowly so you need less stomach acid to digest the food.

  • 6. Don't eat late at night

    It's common sense that as you lie down juices can flow more easily from the stomach up to the throat, so it's wise to leave plenty of time to digest properly before you go to bed at night. If you need a late night snack to keep your energy up then opt for something that's very easily digested.

  • 7. Try probiotic yogurts or capsules

    Probiotic products can help improve your digestion, and so lessen the pressure that can cause heartburn, by improving the balance of bacteria in the digestive tract. If you find dairy products are usually a heartburn trigger for you then look for a non-dairy source of probiotics, such as those in capsule or powder form.

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  • 8. Avoid tight clothing

    Tight clothing puts pressure on your stomach and digestive tract, so it's something to be avoided when you have acid indigestion. Make sure your maternity clothes have plenty of give in them. You may also find that making sure you have a correctly-fitting bra (your chest size will expand during pregnancy) can make a significant difference.

  • 9. Don't smoke

    Yes, of course you shouldn't be smoking when pregnant anyway, but if you still are sneaking the odd cigarette then remember that smoking aggravates heartburn.

  • 10. Don't gain too much pregnancy weight

    Of course you should be putting on weight during your pregnancy, but do try to make sure this is mainly related to your pregnancy rather than to your diet and over-eating. The more weight you carry, the more pressure you will put on your digestion. But there is one thing you could try eating more of. Try sugar-free gum after meals. Chewing this stimulates saliva production and helps neutralise the PH in your mouth and throat. This will also help lessen the likelihood of tooth decay (which can accelerate during pregnancy).

Last updated on 11 July 2011


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