Heartburn and acid reflux are some of the most common complaints during pregnancy. Heartburn can be incredibly uncomfortable and even cause nausea and interfere with sleep. If you’re experiencing serious acid reflux, try these natural pregnancy heartburn remedies to get some relief!
(The contents of this post do not constitute medical advice. This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read our disclaimer.)
What Causes Heartburn During Pregnancy?
Acid reflux and heartburn have been my most consistent and frustrating pregnancy symptoms. Reflux has woken me up in the middle of the night, and I’ve had to significantly change how I eat to deal with it.
But what is the difference between acid reflux and heartburn? And why are they more common during pregnancy?
To keep it simple, heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux. Acid reflux occurs when the valve between your stomach and esophagus fails to keep stomach acid or food from passing back into your esophagus. As a result, your stomach contents travel the wrong way into your esophagus and back to your throat. (1)
Heartburn is the burning feeling you get in your chest or throat due to acid reflux. This feeling can intensify if you’re lying on your back or bending over. It also tends to be worse after eating and in the evening.
During pregnancy, the hormone progesterone causes your esophageal sphincter – the valve between your stomach and esophagus – to relax.
Because of this change, even if you’ve never experienced acid reflux and heartburn before, it’s more likely that you will during pregnancy. If you’ve dealt with acid reflux in the past, the likelihood of pregnancy heartburn becomes even greater. (2)
Foods that Cause Pregnancy Heartburn
One of the best preventative measures for pregnancy heartburn is to change how you eat. Follow these guidelines to avoid acid reflux during pregnancy:
- Avoid eating acidic, greasy, or fatty foods. You may also want to skip citrus and caffeine, which can cause acid reflux for some people.
- Eat 5 to 6 small meals instead of 3 big meals each day. This can keep the contents of your stomach lower so they are less likely to travel into your esophagus.
- Drink fluids between meals instead of during them. This strategy can also keep the contents of your stomach from increasing too much and causing acid reflux.
8 Natural Pregnancy Heartburn Remedies
Sometimes, no matter what you do, you can’t avoid acid reflux entirely. In that case, try these 8 natural pregnancy heartburn remedies to get some much-needed relief!
Heartburn is tricky because a remedy that works for one person may actually make the condition worse in another. So as you try these natural pregnancy heartburn remedies, be mindful of what tends to make your acid reflux worse so you can avoid “fixes” that might actually exacerbate the problem.
As always, make sure to check in with your healthcare provider before starting any home remedies to make sure they’re safe for you and won’t interact negatively with any medications or treatments you’re using.
1. Papaya Enzyme
When I started struggling with acid reflux during pregnancy, my midwife suggested I try papaya enzyme as a natural remedy.
Honestly, I was skeptical. But I started taking a serving of this papaya enzyme before meals, and it has helped immensely!
So, how does it work? Papaya contains papain, an enzyme that helps to break down food proteins so they are easier to digest. This takes some of the work of digestion off of your body and allows your stomach to produce less acid, leading to decreased acid reflux symptoms. (3)
Yogurt can soothe the lining of your esophagus, which gets damaged by acid reflux, leading to that feeling we call heartburn. The probiotics in yogurt can also stimulate healthy digestion, preventing future heartburn.
Just make sure to eat low-fat yogurt. Foods that are high in fat take longer to digest and can lead to acid reflux.
3. Ginger – root, tea, chews
When taken in small doses, ginger is an amazing natural pregnancy heartburn remedy. Ginger can relieve gastrointestinal irritation and prevent stomach acid from flowing up into the esophagus. It can also act as an anti-inflammatory and alleviate acid reflux symptoms. (4)
There are many ways to take ginger, so if you’re not a fan of the taste, no worries! Try using ginger to relieve heartburn with some of these ideas:
- cooking with fresh ginger
- ginger tea
- ginger capsules
- ginger chews
- adding fresh ginger to juices or smoothies
See also: 9 Natural Pregnancy Headache Remedies
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
This has been my absolute favorite heartburn remedy to use during pregnancy. Mix between a teaspoon and tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a few ounces of water. Drink it before or after a meal.
While there hasn’t been any research on the effectiveness of using apple cider vinegar for heartburn, there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence out there that it’s working for people! The theory is that some people have acid reflux because they actually have too little stomach acid, and taking ACV helps balance the acidity of their stomach. (5)
I usually use apple cider vinegar for acid reflux after dinner, which is when I have the worst heartburn. It’s an easy remedy, and since the ACV is diluted, it tastes more like watery cider than it does like vinegar. It usually calms my acid reflux down within ten minutes.
It’s important to use raw apple cider vinegar that includes “the mother” (I swear by this brand). And if you want to try this home remedy but really can’t get behind the taste of apple cider vinegar, try these capsules instead.
5. Digestive Bitters
Digestive bitters are tinctures of bitter herbs made for the purpose of aiding digestion. Their bitter taste signifies to your digestive system that it’s time to get to work!
Digestive bitters can make your stomach produce gastric juices to help break down food and reduce heartburn. (6)
You can spray digestive bitters into your mouth with a bottle that has a spray top like this one. Or you can add some bitters to a glass of water for a lighter taste.
6. Coconut Water
You might not expect coconut water to be a heartburn remedy, but it can actually be incredibly helpful for acid reflux during pregnancy!
Drinking unsweetened coconut water can help to balance pH in your body and contains potassium, which can help to prevent heartburn. It’s also a natural source of electrolytes and a great hydrator, both of which are much-needed during pregnancy! (7)
7. Lemon Water
This heartburn remedy depends on your body and what tends to cause your symptoms. For some people, citrus makes acid reflux worse. For others, it can help neutralize acid in the stomach. (8)
If you haven’t had issues with citrus causing acid reflux, you may want to try drinking lemon water as a natural pregnancy heartburn remedy. Mix just a tablespoon of lemon juice with an 8-ounce glass of water and drink it before a meal to prevent acid reflux.
8. Marshmallow Root
Marshmallow root is a soothing herb that can decrease the inflammation and irritation caused by acid reflux. It may even help to repair the lining of your digestive tract that has been damaged by acid reflux! (9)
If you’re struggling with acid reflux and heartburn during pregnancy, I feel your pain! I hope these natural pregnancy heartburn remedies bring you some relief. Share the remedy that helps you the most in the comments!