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How to Prevent Acid Indigestion and Heartburn in Pregnancy

Updated on July 30, 2014

Pregnancy comes with a whole range of aches and pains most women would prefer to avoid. This most joyous time of life can be difficult on even the healthiest women, and one of the common side-effects of pregnancy is acid indigestion, or heartburn. Acid Indigestion is most common in late pregnancy, and is caused by the hormone progesterone causing the flap that normally keeps the stomach acid from coming up into the esophagus and throat. Heartburn is painful and potentially risky, as this type of reflux damages the esophagus (sometimes permanently).

While you have options to help you to feel better once the heartburn has started, it's preferable if you can avoid it altogether. This is a complex matter, particularly when you're pregnant and the types of medications available to you are limited. As always, natural methods should be tried first. Afterward, if natural remedies aren't working, drugs may be an option (but only if you talk to your doctor, first!).

Acid Indigestion can keep you bound to the bathroom, as it will cause nausea if it goes untreated for too long.
Acid Indigestion can keep you bound to the bathroom, as it will cause nausea if it goes untreated for too long. | Source

Why is Heartburn a Problem?

Heartburn and acid indigestion are incredibly painful. At the least, they cause a pain in the chest (hence the moniker "heartburn"), and at the worst, they can cause the erosion of the esophagus to the point that surgery is required in order to repair the damage. While there are medications that can help to prevent acid indigestion and esophageal erosion, they aren't recommended for women who are pregnant, and therefore heartburn during pregnancy becomes an even bigger problem.

Do you experience regular heartburn (acid indigestion)?

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A Change in Diet May Prevent Acid Indigestion During Pregnancy

You're probably already working on changing your diet as most doctors recommend, but if you're worried about acid indigestion, or if you're already experiencing it, further changes may be necessary in order to help keep you comfortable and prevent risk to the esophagus.

The problem for most women is in where you should start subtracting foods from your diet in order to increase your comfort. Since heartburn generally occurs at night, when you're already having trouble sleeping by the end of your pregnancy, you'll want relief quickly.

Though you'll definitely want to keep a food journal (a good food journal is listed below on sale at Amazon), faster relief comes from eliminating certain high acid foods from your diet. Most of these foods are fruits, and if you are going to journal your foods, by removing fruits and fats before journaling, in order to prevent yourself from experiencing more indigestion pain than necessary.

Citrus fruits can be one of the greatest contributors to acid indigestion because of their high acid content. While you don't need to avoid all acids, citric acid can be particularly problematic.
Citrus fruits can be one of the greatest contributors to acid indigestion because of their high acid content. While you don't need to avoid all acids, citric acid can be particularly problematic. | Source
  • Foods high in citric acid (including tomatoes and tomato products)
  • Red Meat
  • Spices and spicy foods

Foods to Avoid to Prevent Acid Indigestion

Prevention is better than cure! If you can, try to prevent your acid indigestion rather than fighting it once you have it. Avoiding these foods will help to prevent heartburn during pregnancy and after. Some women continue to experience heartburn even once they've given birth. These tips will help everyone, including those who have never been pregnant, so if you landed on this page looking for solutions to acid indigestion and heartburn, keep reading, regardless of your gender or pregnancy status.

You'll find a quick list of foods that are probably causing you to experience acid indigestion to the right. In the meantime, I encourage you to purchase and keep a food journal so that you can make notes of which of the foods you're eating are affecting you in which ways. Using a dietary food journal is preferred since in some cases certain nutrients are the cause of your indigestion (including fats and salts).

Note about Acidic Foods and Acid Indigestion

Not all acidic foods need to be avoided when you're preventing heartburn. Note that acid can be a factor in neutralizing indigestion, and therefore you really must keep a food journal in order to note which foods and nutrients are contributing to your indigestion.

Always avoid saturated fats. They are one of the primary causes of acid indigestion.

Causes of Indigestion

Diet
Lifestyle
Acidic Fruits
Overeating
Red Meats
Reclining after Eating
Spices
Eating too Fast
Coffee
Smoking Cigarettes

The Hardest Part about Heartburn During Pregnancy

The hardest part about heartburn during pregnancy is getting a good night's sleep. Acid Indigestion is more likely to attack when you are reclining at nighttime. It will rob you of sleep during a time when you need your sleep the most. Avoid getting heartburn in the first place when you can. Following the guide in the video (which does not belong to me!) or which are outlined below will help to avoid getting heartburn in the first place. If you do get heartburn, it is difficult to get rid of, but not impossible!

Keep reading for more about avoiding heartburn.

Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar can help to prevent heartburn, or to reduce its affects.
Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar can help to prevent heartburn, or to reduce its affects. | Source

To Prevent Acid Indigestion: Drink Apple Cider Vinegar

If this sounds at all unappealing, trust me when I tell you that I am right there alongside you. My husband first introduced me to the idea of drinking ACV (apple cider vinegar) to prevent acid indigestion, and I must confess that it's difficult to choke down.

You won't be drinking it straight. Mix two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with water. If it still tastes strongly of vinegar, you can add some honey to the mix to sweeten it. I'm not sure what affect (if any) the honey has on the mixture.

Though it may seem counter-productive, as vinegar is acidic, this preventative works to prevent acid indigestion. Should you already have heart burn, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (neat), should solve the problem for you. Mustard works similarly.

Bragg Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, 32 Ounce - 1 Pack
Bragg Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, 32 Ounce - 1 Pack

When purchasing apple cider vinegar, make sure that you are purchasing a RAW product in order to achieve the desired results. This is the brand that we use in our family. The raw product is somewhat more expensive than the pasturized product, so I recommend keeping a bottle just or medicinal purposes and using pasturized vinegar or white vinegar for cleaning.

 
Kombucha Brooklyn Home Brew Kit
Kombucha Brooklyn Home Brew Kit

Bear in mind that any kombucha contains alcohol. The longer you allow it to ferment, the higher the alcohol content. This is a kit with everything you need to produce kombucha.

 

To Prevent Acid Indigestion: Drink Kombucha

Personally, I'm not a fan of Kombucha. Some people like it, some people acquire a taste for it, and some people will never like it. I assume that I am in the third group. However, it is said that Kombucha has incredible heath benefits. Among them, it would seem, is the ability to prevent acid indigestion by keeping the bacteria in the stomach balanced.

Kombucha is made by brewing and then fermenting a sweet tea for 7-30 days. This produces a fizzy drink (not unlike a soda) with a strong, vinegar-y flavor. To get the full benefits of this drink, take 8 oz every day.

You can find a kit for making Kombucha to the right. Be aware that when brewed at home, Kombucha is an alcoholic beverage. The longer it ferments, the more alcohol it contains.

Kombucha helps to balance the bacteria in your stomach (and gut) and thereby helps to prevent acid indigestion or heartburn.
Kombucha helps to balance the bacteria in your stomach (and gut) and thereby helps to prevent acid indigestion or heartburn. | Source
NOW Super Enzymes,180 Capsules
NOW Super Enzymes,180 Capsules

Digestive enzymes help to keep the ph levels in the stomach balanced, thereby helping to prevent you from experiencing heartburn. You should take a digestive enzyme caplet every time that you eat something you suspect is going to cause you to experience heartburn. I find that Papaya Enzyme also works.

 

To Prevent Acid Indigestion: Take a Digestive Enzyme

The enzymes in your stomach and saliva break food down so that it can be digested. If your body's natural enzymes low, this can cause your body to have to work harder in order to break down the food that you eat so that your body can absorb the nutrients and expel the waste.

Taking a supplement in order to help you break down particularly difficult foods (such as red meat) will help to prevent heartburn. To prevent acid indigestion, digestive enzymes must be taken before you consume the problem food. While they can be taken daily, it's only necessary to take these supplements before you consume a problem food.

Pharmaceutical treatments for heartburn are best to be avoided, unless your doctor prescribes something for you.
Pharmaceutical treatments for heartburn are best to be avoided, unless your doctor prescribes something for you. | Source

Curing Heartburn Once You Have It

Heartburn is very difficult to get rid of once you have it. Pharmaceutical treatments are easy to get a hold of, with many being sold over the counter now. You should only take these drugs with the approval of your doctor or pharmacist, and I don't recommend them during pregnancy.

If you get heartburn, first and foremost, sit up. A reclining position will make it worse, and sitting up could prevent you from needing to vomit (which, by the way, generally helps). If you can, belch.

When you're up to it, swallow a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar (see above) or yellow mustard (preferably organic). This should neutralize the acid in your stomach and help to prevent further flare-ups.

If none of this works, you could try an antacid tablet. Personally, I like Rolaids and I find that they are the most effective at neutralizing the acid in my stomach and throat when it's at its worst. Be careful, however! Antacids may interfere with certain prescription medications, so talk to your doctor, first!

Always Check With Your Doctor!

When you're pregnant, it is especially important to talk to your doctor about specific medical issues that you may have. Each pregnancy and body is different, and what works for one woman might not work for another, but you'll need to make sure with your doctor that there isn't any reason for you to avoid one remedy or another. Talk it through with your doctor and make sure that the solution you've chosen is healthy for you and your pregnancy.

© 2014 Becki Rizzuti

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    • Pregnancy Now profile image
      Author

      Becki Rizzuti 2 years ago from Central Indiana

      I *hate* the taste of the apple cider vinegar solution, but it actually works pretty well. Papaya enzyme has done some good for me as well, but it doesn't completely solve the problem.

    • Wynter Gale profile image

      Wynter Gale 2 years ago

      I commented on one of your other hubs because I was concerned about cramping, but the doctor has confirmed everything is normal, and an ultrasound has shown a healthy baby! I could even see the heartbeat! I have to wait until my next appointment to hear it, though.

      My heartburn problems have already started, however. I'm only 8 weeks, but it has hit me with a vengeance. It's nearly nonstop except for right when I wake up, and I don't even have to eat anything and it lasts well after I have eaten. I tried Tums and I was taking Pepto for other symptoms, too, but it didn't help at all. I then went to ginger tea and baking soda, but the effects were brief. Last I tried apple cider vinegar; that is probably the most foul-tasting liquid I have ever had. I only took it once because I nearly vomited after taking it. I'm wondering if I should try again. I never knew heartburn could be this horrible.

    • Pregnancy Now profile image
      Author

      Becki Rizzuti 3 years ago from Central Indiana

      It's definitely not my thing, either! I have a hard enough time with the ACV, to be honest with you. Kombucha is a no-go in my case, which is too bad. I've never stopped having acid indigestion since my first pregnancy of four. My youngest is six.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

      Well done with balanced information. Kombucha is not for me, but there are those who swear by it.