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:
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some homeopathic remedies are extremely effective natural antacids. Nat Phos, for example, helps break down acids and rebalance your body’s pH level.
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.
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.
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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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:
- 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 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.