Pregnancy Heartburn: Natural Relief and Remedies

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 that kind of pain is best left to the fire eaters! 🔥

Heartburn can occur throughout pregnancy, often starting in the first trimester and intensifying from there. In this post we’ll explain:

  • What causes heartburn during pregnancy
  • How to avoid heartburn during pregnancy
  • Plus, natural remedies for heartburn during pregnancy

What Causes Heartburn During Pregnancy?

There are many possible causes of heartburn during pregnancy, including:

Hormones

Yes, hormones play a big role in everything when you’re pregnant, even with heartburn. Pregnancy hormones cause all types of stomach symptoms, including heartburn. The hormone progesterone causes the valve that prevents stomach acids from passing back into the esophagus to relax, allowing acids to pass more easily, irritating the lining.

Hormones also slow down digestion, which means less stomach acids are produced. Although it can seem counterintuitive, less stomach acids actually create heartburn and acid reflux.

Making Room for Baby

As pregnancy progresses, baby takes up more and more room in your abdomen. By the third trimester, baby is really compressing all of your digestive organs and diaphragm up into less space, making it easier for stomach contents to pass back up into the esophagus.

Natural Ways to Relieve Pregnancy Heartburn

As you can see, 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?

Most women with healthy, normal pregnancies will find easy, convenient, and effective measures to relieve heartburn discomfort naturally. Of course, as with everything in life, there are exceptions to this. If you find your pregnancy heartburn persists or seems extra severe, talk to you doctor or midwife.

Here are some natural pregnancy heartburn remedies:

Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

Mix 1-teaspoon vinegar (building  up to 1 tablespoon) with approximately 8 ounces water; sip throughout the day and an hour before meals.

Raw vinegar is one of the small wonders of the world! Seems strange to think about drinking vinegar when your chest is burning. As stated above, low stomach acid actually creates heartburn, so 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.

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 is another small miracle. Lemon juice increases the production of digestive juices and bile, which helps balance low stomach acids and aids in digestion.

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.

Coconut Water

Choose unsweetened coconut water or try this coconut water smoothie

Coconut water, or technically “drupe’s” water (coconut is not officially a nut!), is high in electrolytes and alkaline minerals like potassium. Because of this, it promotes pH balance and, therefore, acts as a great natural acid neutralizer.

Plain Old 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.

Fennel Seeds

Crush a small amount of fennel seed. Add to above lemon recipes, either hot tea or cold drink. The flavor of fennel works great with lemon. Fennel by itself is lovely, too. 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!

Peppermint

Peppermint tea or sucking on peppermints eases heartburn tremendously! I leaned heavily on peppermint lozenges (these ones don’t have sugar in them… yay!) and peppermint tea.

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.

High Enzyme Foods

Papaya, pineapple, avocados and bananas all contain naturally-occurring enzymes that helps us breakdown 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.

Fermented Foods

Even more potent, fermented foods like raw sauerkraut, kim chi, 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.

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 move it through.

Bentonite clay is highly absorbable! It’s 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.

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.

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.

Grapefruit

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Chiropractor

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.

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.

 


 

Natural Ways to Prevent Pregnancy Heartburn

So far, we’ve listed a lot of natural remedies and relief for heartburn during pregnancy. Now, let’s focus on some tips to help avoid heartburn in the first place.

Diet, Nutrition, & Lifestyle

What and how you eat (or don’t eat) can make all the difference with heartburn during pregnancy.

Try:

  • 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
  • Staying hydrated—sip water and liquids throughout the day and between meals, rather than in larger quantities
  • Chewing naturally sweetened gum after a meal—chewing stimulates your salivary glands, naturally neutralizing acids
  • Alkalizing foods that actually soothe or help prevent heartburn:
    • Almonds
    • Avocados
    • Most vegetable, particularly your greens
    • Green drinks or smoothies are a great way to get the greens in for relief, nutrition, and hydration!
    • Herbal teas, such as peppermint, chamomile, and lemon tea
    • Garlic—a clove of garlic a day keeps heartburn away! Or at least some say so. If you choose garlic capsules, make sure they are rich in allicin to be effective with heartburn. As always, before taking supplements, check with your midwife to make sure they are right for you.

Adding in as many of the above alkalizing foods and lifestyle suggestions to your daily routine will help balance the hormonal side effects caused by pregnancy.

Also consider avoiding the more aggravating food and behavior culprits.

Avoid:

  • Tight fitting clothes if you have heartburn during pregnancy. It puts 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:
    • Chocolate
    • Sugar
    • Alcohol
    • Caffeinated and sugar beverages, like tea, coffee, soda, etc.
    • Onions
    • Coffee
    • Tomatoes
    • Citrus fruits
    • Mustard
    • 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 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.

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.

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.

  • Acv, pickle juice, digestive enzymes! – Katie Keepman
  • An apple in the morning and right before bed. – Elsa Silva
  • I would get heartburn/reflux late at night. 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 it was gone and I was able to sleep. I actually ended up leaving a jar of pb and a spoon by my bedside just so I wouldn’t have to get my big pregnant butt out of bed. – Jessica Fields
  • Milk worked for me, one of my nurses told me that that couldn’t be right, because it’s a myth that milk would ever work, well dear nurse, that was the only thing that would work for me, so, back off! – Areli Josserand
  • Apple Cider Vinegar helped me! (Had quite a bit of heart burn… but my babies didn’t end up with much hair – at all! Old wives tale! ) – Devon Johnston
  • Baking soda in a little bit of water helped! Was it gross? A little, but still more enjoyable than heartburn! I had raging heartburn the whole time. A midwife suggested ACV but that made it worse for me! – Erin M. Strand
  • Maybe not the healthiest, but I always had ginger snaps next you 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
  • Papaya Enzyme was a lifesaver for me 



Jessica Smith Plant Bananas and yogurt. Sara Wrazen Parise
  • 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!!! She can’t believe it but now tells everyone about it! And she has been known to carry green olives with her now. – 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.

 

Sources


http://www.babymed.com/blogs/jaclyn-stewart/chiropractor-might-be-cure-heartburn
http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/cheers-to-drinking-warm-lemon-water
http://www.foods-healing-power.com/heartburn-during-pregnancy.html
http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20440834_4,00.html
http://www.alkalinesisters.com/alkaline-food-chart/

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39 Comments

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  1. unripe — or green — papaya is used a lot in thai dishes (and maybe other asian cuisines, not sure). so that’s the place to look out for it.

  2. I tried wearing a necklace of hazelwood in early pregnancy for morning sickness. It helped! I put it back on later in pregnancy wondering if it would help heartburn. I think it did but didn’t suffer everyday anyway. Peppermint tea was my other go to remedy. Found out later that I should have discontinued pep tea when b/f as it affects milk production. Never knew and my babes got fed ok!

  3. I am 13-16 weeks just found out however I have a 1 year old and I did not get any cravings or symptoms but this time around I throw up 3 times every other day and have bad acid reflux this pregnancy is just going horrible

  4. Hey mamas! So far, a slice of cantaloupe has been working like a charm for me as well as unsweetened gum, i.e. Excel.

  5. Really nice post thanks for sharing

  6. Hi, I am suffering from heartburn and same time I feel bad pain in my intestine, that makes me to go use toilet, sometime it’s like diarrhea. Can you suggest something to stop this diarrhoea condition with heartburn. Thanks

  7. What can I drink to make heart burn and acid reflux go away?? I’ve had it the past few days and it makes me bring all the food and fluids I’ve had plus a brown liquid comes up with it even though I haven’t eaten/drank anything brown.

    • Pedialyte helps me! I have a shot glass next to my bed and a bottle and I just take it a shot at a time until it goes away!

  8. Nursing my 9 month old and need heartburn relief. Can I take aloe juice? I heard this was safe for breastfeeding.

    • Aloe vera juice can cause a laxative effect and/or vomiting, it is recommended that children under 12 do not ingest aloe juice for that reason. Since the juice is transferred through your breastmilk, your baby could experience those side effects. Speak with your provider for further information.

  9. Aloe Vera is reportedly dangerous during pregnancy… be advised please !

  10. Heartburn was absolutely atrocious during my first pregnancy – and this one has been very mild so far. It’s crazy how things can vary so differently from one pregnancy to the next. I think healthy eating also plays a huge role in if you get heartburn and how severe it will be. Thanks so much for sharing these great tips! <3

  11. I have been dealing with my heartburn by munching on raw kale. I prefer baby kale from my friends farm. I like to think of it as a calcium poultice. ? It helps immediately and if the first mouthful isn’t enough usually the second does the trick. Sometimes I also nibble a bit of extra sharp cheddar cheese. It works for me and hopefully helps someone else out there. @ week 25 and a lover of spicy food!!

  12. I never comment even if the content is extra bad but Really wish i could read what you wrote but the page is so screwed up i can only see half then half of the purple. Also i have never seen so many pop up ads. Every other word i did manage to read there was something popping. Really bad ???

  13. The homeopathic remedy Nux Vomica by Boiron has been a lifesaver for my heartburn!

  14. I had awful heartburn in my first pregnancy, and usually ended up taking Zantac. Not natural at all! This time around, I find that kneeling on the floor with my chest up on my birthing ball for awhile does the trick! Trying to drink around my meals helps too!

  15. Very comprehensive, Genevieve. I’d caution the use of Aloe during pregnancy. Aloe is a great heartburn remedy, but some studies question whether it is safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It may stimulate uterine contractions. Also, in a study, pregnant rats fed dried aloe leaves produced offspring with an increased embryonic death rate and skeletal anomalies.

    • Applying aloe gel externally doesn’t cause any harrm..

  16. Olive oil is a safe and effective natural remedy for heartburn and acid reflux. Baking soda in water. Most effective and least unpleasant, also very frugal. Thanks!

  17. I ordered the peppermint lozenges recommended (Zand, Menthol, Herbalozenge, Soothing Menthol) — I got them from iHerb.com because it was cheaper than amazon — and I am SO happy I read this article and ordered them! I pop one, they’re yummy and heartburn is gone almost instantly. Sometimes I need to take a second one but usually by the end of one, the heartburn is done for at least a few hours. I am 16 weeks pregnant and heartburn started at week 13 – right on cue! 😉 THANK YOU!

  18. Question on the Bentonite clay, doesn’t it contain lead? I have tooth paste with it and have set it aside until the pregnancy is over. Any suggsstions or research with it and pregnancy?

    • Hi Sarah, I am an Ayitian woman and one of the things we have been doing for years is to take clay during pregnancy. It’s a way to clean the body of toxin so the baby will be born healthy. We mix it with water and salt and king of bake it, that way it looks like a cookie (thus the accusation made by the media that we were so poor we eat mud ahah). Till this day, I don’t know anyone having issues with it. I’m in my 3rd trimester and a mother of 3 and never has issue with it. Make sure you buy food grade, 100% no additive added clay. It has a slight green olive color and taste really good. Good luck!

    • Oh god! Please dont ever consume clay. STAY AWAY FROM IT WHILE PREGNANT!! I am an rn and there have been several studies that show its very harmful for both you and baby. Including brain damage, liver damage, and a whole mess of other problems. Please dont ever do this!!

  19. My heartburn is so bad this time around I actually threw up in the middle of the night 🙁 8 weeks left with #3!

  20. 7 weeks pregno with first child after nausea im dealin with heartburn for the last few days…im so exhausted ..im sippibg on fresh ginger tea lets see what happens.. good luck to all of us:(

  21. Fennel can cause uterine contractions, so it’s not recommended. Also, unpasteurized anything is not recommended during pregnancy.

    • Adding a teaspoon or two to hot water in a food-based form is fine.

  22. first pregnancy week 27 constant heartburn it seems so much worse than i could imagine. its currently 346am and im breathing fire off to the store to try a few lf these ideas hope something works

  23. Currently 14 weeks. For nausea, I have found ginger root to be wonderful (tea or sucking on a slice). Also I started taking a hydrochloric-acid supplement with meals (increases stomach acid) and a liquid probiotic. Helps a TON with all aspects of digestion (acid reflux, constipation, gas) though the acv trick also does about the same (I use Braggs).

  24. I’m 34 weeks pregnant . This is my first Pregnancy .From the first month I’m going through very hard time. Still I vomit and also have gestational diabetes .. Now I am suffering from heartburn extremely . Please help me if u can.

    • You should google starch based solution and pregnancy. Dr. Mcdougal uses scientific data from around the world to help advise men and women on how their diet affects their health. I’ve found it to be very helpful during pregnancy and I’ve pretty much had no nausea because of it. Eating clean, your body will heal itself and take care of your baby the way humans have for millions of years. Also nutritionfacts.org has a lot of data on pregnancy as well on pregnancy and nutrition. Why do so many people in other countries who don’t eat the standard American diet (sad) have little to no obesity, diabetes, preeclampsia, etc? It’s because of what they eat on a regular basis. Consider reading the studies.

  25. Slippery elm worked wonders for me! In addition to ACV and a big tablespoon of sauerkraut. BUT I worked out that coconut was actually the only thing causing it! Once I eliminated all coconut products (coconut oil, coconut water, cream, shredded coconut…) I didn’t have it again. Started having coconut water and coconut after bub was born and it gave me mastitis so it seems my guts couldn’t handle it and it caused inflammation

    • How much slippery elm did you take and for how long? Thank you!

  26. Olive oil is a safe and effective natural remedy for heartburn and acid reflux.

    • How about olive ?

  27. Yep, baking soda in water. Most effective and least unpleasant, also very frugal.

  28. Ume plum was the only thing that worked for me!

  29. What brand of acv is your favorite?

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