Ever see those street performers who eat fire? They stick a flaming object down their throat for entertainment. I think this image best describes severe heartburn during pregnancy, but as most women would agree, there’s nothing entertaining about it. It feels like hot, acidic lava burning and rising up in the chest, leaving a nasty taste in the mouth. It’s a common symptom of pregnancy, but I think that kind of pain is best left to the fire eaters.
Natural Ways to Relieve Pregnancy Heartburn
There isn’t much that can be done about preventing the organic causes of heartburn during pregnancy—hormones and baby’s growth are natural and wanted aspects of pregnancy. So what can you do?
First, it’s important to avoid over-the-counter options, like Zantac. Although some practitioners will tell you these conventional medications are safe during pregnancy, new research suggests they aren’t safe during pregnancy… or ever. In fact, many big name stores—CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens, to name a few—recently pulled these drugs from their shelves over concerns that they contain cancer-causing agents.
The good news is most women with healthy, normal pregnancies will find easy, convenient, and effective measures to relieve heartburn discomfort naturally, including:
1. Raw apple cider vinegar
Mix 1 teaspoon of vinegar (building up to 1 tablespoon) with approximately 8 ounces of water; sip throughout the day and an hour before meals.
It seems strange to think about drinking vinegar when your chest is burning, but low stomach acid actually creates heartburn. This works because it increases the acids, resulting in relief. Make sure the vinegar is raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar. Bonus points for an amber bottle.
2. Fresh lemon in water
Squeeze 1-2 fresh lemons into a minimum of 8 ounces of water. Add stevia or raw honey. Heat for tea or leave water cold for lemonade/juice.
Lemon juice increases the production of digestive juices and bile, which helps balance low stomach acids and aids in digestion.
3. Coconut water
Choose unsweetened coconut water or try this coconut water smoothie.
Coconut water is high in electrolytes and alkaline minerals like potassium. Because of this, it promotes pH balance and acts as a great natural acid neutralizer.
4. Plain water
Drink lots of water, but not all at once. Gulping a lot of water in one sitting actually increases the risk of heartburn, particularly when baby’s larger size is pushing your stomach upwards. Instead, sip water all day long. Consistent intake of water keeps things flushing through and hydrates, which will reduce heartburn.
Peppermint tea or sucking on peppermints eases heartburn tremendously! I leaned heavily on sugar-free peppermint lozenges and peppermint tea.
6. Yogurt or milk
Yogurt or a glass of milk can relieve heartburn. Cow’s milk may offer immediate relief, but some say it can worsen the heartburn over time. Try nut milk, rice milk, or goat’s milk as alternatives.
Warming the milk and adding some honey seems to soothe the burning in the chest for some.
7. Fermented foods
Even more potent, fermented foods like raw sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir are brimming with enzymes and good bacteria to support healthy digestion and ease heartburn during pregnancy. These are especially important to include when eating a high-protein meal or before bed.
8. Bentonite clay
Stir 1 – 2 teaspoons of bentonite clay with a minimum of 8 ounces of water. It’s important to drink a lot of water when taking clay, to help it move through.
Bentonite clay is alkalizing and absorbs excess acids, toxins, hormones, and more. Our bodies don’t actually absorb or assimilate the clay. It simply moves through, taking the imbalances with it, easing morning sickness and heartburn during pregnancy.
9. Aloe vera
This natural healing agent can be obtained from the live plant’s leaves. You can also buy the gel at a health food store. Topically, apply gel on chest, throat, and abdomen.
Aloe vera successfully treats inflammation, reducing acid reflux symptoms and heartburn during pregnancy.
Eat 1 grapefruit after each meal.
It may sound counterintuitive, since grapefruit is known to be particularly acidic, but this fruit stimulates bile production in a powerful way. Once grapefruit is digested, it becomes alkaline. High alkaline foods are good for digestion, flatulence, and bloating.
11. Digestive bitters
Put 5 to 10 drops in about 8 ounces of water.
Digestive bitters have been used to improve digestion for centuries, but recent research supports the theory that bitters improve the flow of digestive juices like HCL, pepsin, pancreatic enzymes, and gastrin. Try these.
Please note for those following a Kosher or vegetarian diet, the HCL/Pepsin supplement contains pork.
12. Chewing gum
Chew gum after each meal for 10 minutes.
Chewing gum stimulates saliva production, which helps neutralize stomach acids and ease the symptoms of heartburn during pregnancy. Just don’t chew for too long—this can make the acid reflux worse.
13. Homeopathic remedies
Some homeopathic remedies are extremely effective natural antacids. Nat Phos, for example, helps break down acids and rebalance your body’s pH level.
14. Dandelion tea
Though clinical research is limited, one study suggests dandelion root contains antimicrobial compounds that may aid digestion. Another study touts the plant as a prebiotic that encourages the growth of good gut bacteria. It’s worth a shot. Try this one.
15. Beet Kvass
Place 2 to 3 chopped and peeled organic beets into a canister. Covering with 4 teaspoons of sea salt and 2 quarts of filtered water. Cover and let sit for two days.
This Russian fermented beverage, made from beets, salt, and filtered water, is a full of probiotics that can help your body digest certain enzymes it may otherwise have difficulty breaking down. It also helps cleanse the liver and kidneys, which helps improve digestive function and relieve symptoms of heartburn during pregnancy.
16. High enzyme foods
Papaya, pineapple, avocados, and bananas all contain naturally-occurring enzymes that helps us break down our food. Some mamas swear by papaya enzymes, but keep in mind they haven’t been studied enough and are, therefore, not recommended during pregnancy. Green papaya can also lead to premature labor.
17. Slippery elm bark and marshmallow root
Some mamas find relief from mucilaginous herbs like slippery elm bark and marshmallow root. Due to their gummy consistency, they coat the intestines and soothe digestion. Be sure to use under the guidance of a healthcare practitioner and away from food and supplements—they can interfere with nutrient absorption.
18. Ginger tea
Grate ½ – 1 tsp. ginger into 8 ounces of hot water for tea. Steep for 10 minutes.
Use in moderation. Ginger can possibly lead to contractions, if used frequently or in high doses.
19. Fennel seeds
Crush a small amount of fennel seed. Add to above lemon recipes, either hot tea or cold drink. You can also try steeping crushed fennel seed in hot water.
Fennel seeds and fennel seed oil ward off heartburn. They naturally soothe the digestive tract, reduce acid, and decrease inflammation. Like ginger though, excessive or frequent amounts of fennel is presumed to lead to contractions. Again, use in moderation!
Some recent studies show that seeing a chiropractor can help with heartburn. Certain chiropractic adjustments shift the esophageal valve into a better working position. This relaxes the muscle, helping prevent acids from making their way back up.
21. HCL & Pepsin
If we need more support for heartburn during pregnancy, we can boost our HCL & Pepsin reserves by taking a supplement. Since our bodies naturally produce HCL & Pepsin anyway, it’s a great natural option that’s extremely effective when nothing else works. Most mamas do well with 1-2 per meal, but follow the instructions on the bottle. Reduce your dose if you feel any burning in your stomach. Plant digestive enzymes are another option. Please note for those following a Kosher or vegetarian diet, the HCL/Pepsin supplement contains pork.
If any one of these suggestions for natural remedies and relief for heartburn during pregnancy doesn’t work, try another. Your body may respond better to certain remedies—everyone is different.
If all else fails, try 1/8 tsp. of baking soda in water. You might be one of the few who actually do have too much stomach acid. This will serve as a natural antacid.
Note: If you find your pregnancy heartburn persists or seems extra severe, talk to your doctor or midwife.
Natural Ways to Prevent Pregnancy Heartburn
Now, let’s focus on some tips to help avoid heartburn during pregnancy in the first place.
Diet, nutrition, and lifestyle
What and how you eat (or don’t eat) can make all the difference with heartburn during pregnancy.
- Eating smaller meals throughout the day
- Making your main meal at lunchtime, which takes pressure off the digestive tract later in the day when the body is tired or ready for bed
- Avoiding food a couple hours before bed or a nap
- Sitting upright after eating—lying down can push stomach contents back up
- Propping your head up with a couple of pillows while sleeping
- Tight fitting clothes. They put even more pressure on your organs.
- Liquids while you eat. This dilutes your digestive juices, making them less effective.
- Eating the following aggravating acidic foods:
- Caffeinated and sugar beverages, like tea, coffee, soda, etc.
- Citrus fruits
- Spicy, fatty, rich, and fried foods
- Fizzy drinks
- Large quantities of meat in one sitting—the body works harder if overloaded or too rich
- Iron supplements, since they can cause heartburn. Check with your doctor to see if changing to a liquid supplement might be an option.
Again, adding and subtracting certain foods and behaviors daily will help build a more balanced foundation for your wellness.
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Here’s What Other Mamas Have to Say About Relieving Heartburn During Pregnancy Naturally…
I asked the moms on my Facebook page about their go-to natural remedies for pregnancy heartburn, and here is a sample of their responses.
- Apple cider vinegar, pickle juice, digestive enzymes! – Katie Keepman
- An apple in the morning and right before bed. – Elsa Silva
- It may sound weird, but I would either drink a little pickle juice, or eat a spoonful of peanut butter and within about 5-10 minutes [my heartburn] was gone. – Jessica Fields
- Baking soda in a little bit of water helped! Was it gross? A little, but still more enjoyable than heartburn! – Erin M. Strand
- Maybe not the healthiest, but I always had ginger snaps next to my bed. I ate one or two at night for the heartburn and another one or two in the morning for the nausea. – Sarah Gilroy
- I didn’t treat my heartburn with any natural remedies, but did learn that bad heartburn can often present itself as nausea/morning sickness! Women who experiences bad nausea/MS should consider your remedies as well! – Renee Jillian
- So far, wearing hazelwood helps some. Not perfect, but helps a little. – Susan Miller
- I had heard to eat a few green olives. So when a pregnant friend was needing relief, I suggested her to try it—and it works!!! – Shawna Beaubien
- Liquid slippery elm works instantly! – Ashly Burke-Goike
How About You?
Did you experience heartburn during pregnancy? What natural remedies offered you relief? Share with us in the comments below.