Preventing and Treating Heartburn While Pregnant

Well, well, well Zantac. You evil little devil pill you! I know not everyone experiences heartburn while pregnant but for me, it’s normal (terrible) pregnancy protocol.

With my two boys, the heartburn was unbearable. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t relax – heck I could barely sit comfortably in the car. Sometimes it hurt so bad, I almost couldn’t hold conversation. Awkward at work – for sure. 

I looked at everything as heartburn fuel and cringed at eating – knowing it was going to be painful soon enough. No matter what I did or didn’t do (what I ate or didn’t eat) – I had heartburn. Even cold water seemed to give me heartburn. My doctor said I could take tums here and there but too much calcium could lead to other bad news – like a kidney stones. And nobody wants kidney stone while pregnant. She, along with thousands and thousands of other doctors across the country, could happily recommend Zantac to pregnant patients – like me – as its components were deemed safe for both mother and fetus. Well, I took those little cancer causing tablets every day, sometimes twice a day, for two full pregnancies. 

I went out and bought another pack just a few weeks into my current pregnancy, knowing what was coming. Ya know what else came? Horrible news about Zantac. The Food and Drug Administration issued an alert that said Zantac could contain low levels of a carcinogen (called nitrosodimethylamine). CVS, Walgreens and other retails ripped those little cancer pills off the shelf. Ugh!!! I lose sleep over this. I had taken so much Zantac over a combined 20-month period. I had ingested them while pregnant with my two sweet boys. What kind of effect would this have on them, on me, in the future? That has yet to be determined but it is most definitely in the back of my mind. 

I am pregnant now, and experiencing heartburn again. This case isn’t so bad. It’s annoying, painful, but bearable. I am not sure what it was with my boys – but that heartburn was actually life-quality altering. I know it sounds silly complaining about silly ol’ heartburn but it’s a legit real thing. Those who know, really know

Since this pregnancy has offered me a little less severity in the ‘burn’, I am able to explore all my prevention and treatment options – with my Zantac box in the garbage. 

Ways to treat heartburn while pregnant : 

  • Try eating several small meals each day instead of three large ones. 
  • Eat slowly, take your time. 
  • Avoid fried, spicy, or rich, fatty foods. Fat, caffeine, chocolate, citrus – these categories seem to cause relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter and increase the risk of heartburn. Remember that what causes reflux in one woman might not be a trigger for another. Pay attention to your own food triggers. 
  • Drink less while eating. Drink between meals instead of with meals. 
  • Don’t lie down directly after eating. Er, don’t eat before bed or sitting down for long periods of time.
  • With that in mind, sit or stand after eating to help with digestion. Because, gravity. 
  • Elevate. Keep the head of your bed higher than the foot of your bed. Prop pillows under your shoulders to help prevent stomach acids from rising up into your esophagus. Yuck. 
  • Try some ginger. Some people find that ginger can help ease an upset tummy. Ginger can combat nausea and vomiting, which can go hand-in-hand with heartburn.
  • Try taking an Apple Cider Vinegar shot before or after meals may reduce acid reflux. For some people, apple cider vinegar makes heartburn worse. For others it is a magic potion. I find it digesting. 
  • Get comfy with loose-fitting clothing. Tight clothing can increase the pressure on your stomach and abdomen – and you guessed it – can lead to heartburn. 

Common Heartburn Food Triggers

  • Alcohol, particularly red wine
  • Black pepper, garlic, raw onions, and other spicy foods
  • Chocolate
  • citrus fruits and products, such as lemons, oranges and orange juice coffee
  • Caffeinated drinks, including tea and soda
  • Peppermint
  • Tomatoes