Coping Strategies for Acid Reflux During Pregnancy

According to the National Institute of Health, acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux (GER) to give it its full name, is reported in up to 80% of pregnancies. There are a few coping strategies for acid reflux during pregnancy, and I’m here to give you the down low. 

What is Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux is most commonly known as heartburn and it tends to happen in most pregnancies in the third trimester. This is when your growing baby causes your uterus to get bigger, cramping your stomach and pushing acid upwards into your oesophagus. This causes a burning sensation in the chest and throat and can be accompanied by the regurgitation of sour-tasting fluid (and you thought the puking part of pregnancy was over!). 

Pregnancy hormones play a role and can relax the valve at the entrance to the stomach, which then lets stomach contents back up into the oesophagus. 

Acid reflux during pregnancy, or at any time, to be honest, is uncomfortable and disruptive. While we know the cause, there are certain foods that can trigger it, and those are the ones to avoid. 

When Does Acid Reflux Occur During Pregnancy?

As previously mentioned, acid reflux can occur at any stage of pregnancy, but it is more common during the third trimester. Usually, symptoms will improve after birth as hormones return to normal and the uterus shrinks. 

Factors that May Exacerbate Acid Reflux

First and foremost, there are certain foods and drinks that can trigger reflux and/or make it worse. We’re talking spicy, acidic foods, citrus, caffeine and fizzy drinks. Tomatoes were my hell. 

Large meals are a no-go, and lying down or bending over after eating can increase the likelihood of acid reflux, as stomach acid flows back up into the oesophagus more easily. 

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Strategies for Coping with Acid Reflux

It’s wise to consult your GP or midwife before trying anything new, but especially when pregnant. Chances are, they’ll have the most and best up to date tips to help you manage the discomfort. 

  • Eat small, frequent meals to prevent overloading your stomach. 
  • Stay upright after eating for at least an hour. Gravity is your best friend here, ladies! 
  • Think about your diet. It’s always wise to eat a well-balanced diet rich in fruit, veg, lean proteins and whole grains. 
  • Drink water! Staying hydrated will help dilute stomach acid and aid digestion. 
  • Pillows, pillows pillows! Prop yourself up at night so your head is elevated to reduce any symptoms overnight. If you don’t want to bother with a pregnancy pillow, use sofa cushions and pillows to get yourself comfy. 

What Medicines Are Safe? 

According to the NHS, antacids and alginates are recommended as first-line treatments if symptoms are relatively mild. These are generally considered safe to take during pregnancy and can provide temporary relief. Please check with your midwife or doctor. 

If symptoms are more severe, they can advise on prescribing an acid-suppressing drug safe to take during pregnancy. 

Dealing with acid reflux during pregnancy can be challenging, but with a few lifestyle modifications and dietary changes you should be able to alleviate symptoms at least a little.

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