Acidity is a common problem encountered by most women during their pregnancy, especially in the second or third trimester.
Acidity occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter, a muscle responsible for keeping stomach contents in their place, begins to relax or leak, allowing the stomach acids to flow upward into the esophagus.
During pregnancy, acidity occurs mainly for two reasons.
First, the hormone relaxin slows the digestion process, meaning food stays in your stomach longer and triggers more acid production.
Secondly, the growing baby inside the womb exerts pressure on both the stomach and the lower esophageal sphincter, increasing the chance that acids will be pushed up into the esophagus.
The problem is particularly common if you are pregnant with more than one baby, your baby is very large (macrosomia) or your baby is in a breech position (bottom-first) in late pregnancy, as his head may press up under your diaphragm.
A severe or chronic form of acidity is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). According to a 2012 study published in Gastroenterology & Hepatology, GERD is very common during pregnancy and approximately 30 to 50 percent of pregnant women complain of heartburn .
Acidity during pregnancy is not dangerous and will not affect the delivery of your child or their health after birth. However, it can add to the discomforts you may feel while you’re pregnant.
A 2010 study published in Canadian Family Physicians reports that heartburn and acid reflux during pregnancy should be treated, as recent studies report that symptoms of GERD have been associated with an increased severity of pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting .
While medicines are not recommended for pregnancy-related acidity, there are many simple remedies and lifestyle changes that can help you deal with this problem and maintain a healthy pregnancy.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for acidity during pregnancy.
Ginger is a natural aid for getting relief from acidity during pregnancy.
The active components like volatile oils and phenol compounds in ginger help neutralize stomach acids, which in turn reduce heartburn or acidity.
It also helps combat nausea and vomiting, which often go hand in hand with heartburn or acidity. A 2014 study published in the Nutrition Journal reports that ginger could be considered a harmless and possibly effective alternative option for women suffering from nausea and vomiting during pregnancy .
- Drink warm ginger tea after eating a meal. To make the tea, add 1 teaspoon of grated ginger to a cup of hot water. Let it steep for 10 minutes, strain and enjoy it while it is still warm. Drink no more than 2 cups of ginger tea a day.
- You can also enjoy some ginger candies.
Caution: As ginger can possibly lead to contractions, it is recommended to use it in moderation.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Although many dislike the taste of apple cider vinegar, it can help reduce acidity. The acid content in it tells the stomach to stop producing more acid, and stops heartburn or acidity in its tracks.
This healthy tonic is also full of nutrients that will benefit your health and the baby growing inside your womb.
- Simply add 1 to 2 teaspoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to a glass of warm water.
- If you wish, add a little honey to make the drink more palatable.
- Drink it 30 minutes before eating a meal, on a regular basis.
3. Plain Water
Staying well-hydrated by drinking enough water helps control the digestion process and eases acidity by making it harder for acid to flow back up the food pipe.
You must drink plenty of water, but not all at once. Gulping a lot of water in one sitting actually increases the risk of heartburn, especially when the increasing size of your baby pushes your stomach upward. Instead, try to sip water all day long.
Also, drink water between meals, rather than with a meal. Drinking while you eat dilutes your digestive juices, meaning they don’t work as well to break down food.
Apart from water, include more liquid-based food in your diet, as they move through the stomach more quickly than solid food. So include soups, smoothies, yogurt, milkshakes, protein shakes and puddings in your diet.
4. Chewing Gum
Chewing a piece of sugarless gum after meals is another simple way to treat acidity during pregnancy. Chewing gum increases production of saliva that helps neutralize any acid coming back up into the esophagus.
A 2001 study published in Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics reports that chewing gum after a meal helps reduce postprandial esophageal acid exposure .
Again, a study published in the Journal of Dental Research in 2005 found that chewing sugar-free gum for 30 minutes after a meal can reduce acidic postprandial esophageal reflux .
Pop a piece of sugar-free chewing gum in your mouth after finishing your meal to control acidity.
5. Eat Less, More Often
Pregnancy can increase your cravings for certain foods and you may end up eating more than usual. But if you are suffering from acidity, bear in mind that overeating exacerbates heartburn and acidity, as there is less room for your stomach to expand.
Unsurprisingly, most reflux symptoms take place after a meal.
So, eat less and more often to deal with acidity. Instead of having three large meals a day, aim for six mini-meals. Smaller meals are easier for your body to digest.
Take your time finishing your food and make sure to chew it thoroughly. Also, avoid eating a heavy meal 2 to 3 hours before going to bed, and do not lie down immediately after eating a meal.
A 2005 study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology reports that a shorter dinner-to-bed time was significantly associated with increased acid reflux symptoms .
As a bonus, eating several small meals throughout the day also helps prevent morning sickness.
6. Drink Buttermilk
Another simple home remedy to deal with acidity during pregnancy is buttermilk. It contains lactic acid that normalizes the acidity in the stomach. It is also good for the digestive system.
In addition, it contains water-soluble components including lactose, milk salts and vitamins as well as milk, proteins and residual fat that are good for your health.
You can buy buttermilk or make it yourself.
- Drink plain buttermilk several times a day until you get relief. Mix in a little black pepper or 1 teaspoon of dry roasted cumin seeds for best results.
- Also, grind 1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds with a little water to make a paste. Mix it into a glass of plain buttermilk, and drink it after having your meal.
7. Elevate the Head of Your Bed
Acidity may be more severe during the night. This may disrupt sleep quality and make it difficult to cope with pregnancy-related problems.
In such a case, elevating the head of the bed can help treat acidity during pregnancy.
A 1977 study published in Digestion suggests that by adopting the bed-up position (elevation of the head end of the bed with blocks of 28 cm) will have a symptomatic benefit, the frequency of reflux is decreased and acid clearing is improved .
Later, a 2006 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine noted that elevating the head of the bed is an effective strategy to reduce acid reflux symptoms and heartburn at night .
Try to raise the head of your bed about 2 feet. You can use a wedge-shaped, foam rubber pad to elevate your upper body. Avoid using only pillows to elevate the upper body, as it will put pressure on the stomach and aggravate your symptoms.
8. Sleep on Your Left Side
If you suffer from acidity, especially at night, avoid sleeping on the right side of your body. When you lay on your right side, stomach acid covers the lower esophageal sphincter, which in turn increases the risk of acid leaking through it and causing reflux.
Instead, try lying on your left side or back at night. Sleeping on your left side may prevent acid from flowing into the esophagus, thus preventing acidity.
A 2000 study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology reports that increased esophageal acid exposure can be seen in the right recumbent position relative to the left recumbent position .
During pregnancy, a left-sided sleeping position will also prevent the liver from putting pressure on the uterus and also promote blood flow to the fetus. Plus, it reduces back pain and helps you enjoy much-needed sleep.
9. Eliminate Trigger Foods
When you are pregnant, you need to take special care of your diet. This becomes even more important if you are suffering from acidity, heartburn or other digestive problems.
Certain foods can intensify your acidity problem. You must identify and banish them from your diet completely.
Some common trigger foods for acidity are acidic foods like citrus fruits and tomatoes, greasy or fried foods, spicy foods, fatty foods, chocolate, coffee, carbonated beverages and alcohol.
Acupuncture works on the principle that points in your body can be stimulated to improve your health, and certain points can ease symptoms of acidity during pregnancy.
A 2006 study published in the Journal of Gastroenterology reports that acupuncture may be beneficial to GERD patients .
In acupuncture, fine needles are inserted on certain points like the pericardium point 6 to reduce the symptoms. For acupuncture, you need to get the services from a renowned expert only.
However, you can try acupressure yourself. Pressing an acupressure point (pericardium point 6) on your wrist for a few seconds can help relieve your symptoms. To locate the point, get help from an expert first.
- Do not take antacids that list aluminum as an ingredient. It can cause constipation and even be toxic in large doses.
- When eaten raw, almonds can help reduce the symptoms of acidity.
- Coconut water is a natural acid neutralizer, so drink it more often to ease acidity.
- Include more yogurt or cold milk in your diet.
- No matter what, do not smoke or drink alcohol during pregnancy.
- Wear comfortable clothes and avoid anything too tight, as such clothes put unwanted pressure on the stomach and force up stomach acid.
- It is important to see your doctor regularly as part of good prenatal care. Discuss any acidity issue you are experiencing with your doctor.
- Treatment of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease During Pregnancy. Gastroenterology & Hepatology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3966174. Published November 2012.
- Treatment of heartburn and acid reflux associated with nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Canadian Family Physicians. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2821234. Published February 2010.
- A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect and safety of ginger in the treatment of pregnancy-associated nausea and vomiting. Nutrition Journal. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3995184. Published 2014.
- Walking and chewing reduce postprandial acid reflux. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11148431. Published February 2001.
- The effect of chewing sugar-free gum on gastro-esophageal reflux. Journal of Dental Research. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16246942. Published November 2005.
- Association between dinner-to-bed time and gastro-esophageal reflux disease. American Journal of Gastroenterology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16393212. Published December 2005.
- Effects of posture on gastro-oesophageal reflux. Digestion. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14044. Published February 1977.
- Are lifestyle measures effective in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease? An evidence-based approach. Archives of Internal Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16682569. Published May 08, 2006.
- Effect of different recumbent positions on postprandial gastroesophageal reflux in normal subjects. American Journal of Gastroenterology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11051341. Published October 2000.
- Acupuncture for functional gastrointestinal disorders. Journal of Gastroenterology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16799881. Published May 2006.