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Heartburn relief during pregnancy

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JOCELYN HAS BEEN FEATURED ON:

If you are pregnant, odds are you will experience heartburn at some point during your pregnancy, with 80% of pregnant women reporting heartburn by the end of the third trimester.

This is mainly due to changes in your hormones during pregnancy (particularly estrogen and progesterone) that relax the sphincter between your stomach and your esophagus, allowing stomach acids to splash up into your esophagus and throat, as well as increased pressure on your stomach from your growing baby.

Heartburn isn’t just an annoyance – it significantly affects quality of life. Just this week, a new study came out showing that pregnant women with GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease, or “reflux”, which causes heartburn) have significantly reduced quality of life, including emotional distress, vitality, food/drink problems and physical/social functioning. The most significant impact was on sleep, which is something pregnant mammas certainly do not want disturbed!

First-line treatments for heartburn are antacids, which are generally considered safe in normal therapeutic doses in pregnancy. However, as American Family Physician has reported, when taken in high doses, antacids containing calcium (like Tums) can cause milk-alkali syndrome, and antacids with aluminum (like Maalox) can cause neurotoxicity. This has left many pregnant women looking for alternatives when their heartburn requires treatment.

In addition to eating smaller meals, avoiding trigger foods (like tomatoes, coffee and spicy foods), avoiding eating before bedtime, and elevating the head of your bed with pillows, a promising alternative to antacids is a liquid Cal-Mag supplement, which can be found at most health-food stores and offers many of the same benefits of an antacid, without aluminum or other fillers.

A typical dosage is 1 tsp as needed, typically at bedtime. When taking calcium and magnesium during your pregnancy, you will want to ensure that your total calcium (prenantal + supplements) stays under 1,400mg per day to avoid milk-alkali syndrome during your pregnancy, and that your total magnesium (prenatal + supplements) stays below 360mg per day to stay within the tolerable upper limit during pregnancy.

I hope you have found this helpful, and do let me know if you have any questions!

If you are hungry for more evidence-based information in your pregnancy, sign up for my free webinar: 7 Pregnancy Myths Debunked – and get the information you need to have a healthy pregnancy and a thriving baby.

And if you are a care-provider looking for evidence-based resources for your pregnant patients, please get in touch with us at support@myhealthypregnancyplan.com.

In health,

Dr Jocelyn Land-Murphy, ND

Terra Life

Disclaimer: The information and content provided is for general educational and informational purposes only and is not professional medical advice, nor is it intended to be a substitute therefore. Please consult the Disclaimer and Terms of Use for full details.

References:

Ali, R. & Egan, L. (2007). Gastroesophageal reflux disease in pregnancy. Clinical Gastroenterology, 21(5): 793-806.

Law, R. et al. (2010). Treatment of heartburn and acid reflux associated with nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. Canadian Family Physician, 56(2): 143-144.

Malfertheiner, F. et al. (2017). Impact of gastroesophageal reflux disease symptoms on the quality of life in pregnant women: a prospective study. European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology.

National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements. (n.d.). Magnesium: fact sheet for health professionals. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/

Servey, J. & Chang, J. (2014). Over-the-counter medications in pregnancy. American Family Physician, 90(8): 548-555.

Thomas, M. & Weisman, S. (2006). Calcium supplementation during pregnancy and lactation: effects on the mother and fetus. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 194(4): 937-945.

2 Comments

  1. Lucy Klein Horsman says:

    Hi Jocelyn!
    I had some heartburn when I was pregnant with my kids and wished I had know about these natural remedies. I still get heartburn from time to time and was wondering if these remedies would be beneficial for heartburn when you aren’t pregnant?

    1. Terra Life says:

      Hi Lucy! Yes indeed they would help at any stage. Many of my non-pregnant patients also find they benefit from a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water, 20 minutes before meals, to help stimulate digestion. I didn’t include it in this article as there isn’t any research on it’s use in pregnancy, but may be worth exploring in your case : )

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