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What Causes Heartburn?
Heartburn happens when the muscle at the top of the stomach, also called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), relaxes enough to allow stomach acid into the esophagus. This causes the burning feeling in the chest known as heartburn.
Pregnant women have a higher chance of getting heartburn in the last few months of pregnancy as the growing baby puts pressure on the stomach and hormones cause that muscle at the top of the stomach to relax.
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There are many things you can do to prevent heartburn during pregnancy from even starting.
- Eat smaller more frequent meals. Heartburn is less likely if the stomach isn't completely full. You'll also find you feel better and less tired during the later stages of pregnancy if you eat six small meals as opposed to three large meals.
- Stay upright after eating for several hours. Lying down after eating can help stomach acid head into the esophagus causing heartburn. If lying down causes the heartburn no matter how long it's been since you ate, try sleeping upright or propping the head of your bed up six inches.
- Avoid caffeine and smoking. While pregnant women can have two caffeinated beverages a day, caffeine can cause heartburn. So can smoking, which you shouldn't be doing during pregnancy. If you're having problems quitting smoking, talk to your care provider.
- Avoid foods that can trigger heartburn such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, garlic, onions and chocolate.
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Increase your Calcium
Calcium in antacids can help with heartburn. While some antacid is safe during pregnancy if you're looking for a more natural technique try drinking a glass of milk with your meals. If you want, you could warm the milk and add a little nutmeg, cinnamon and/or honey for a special treat before going to sleep.
If you don't like milk, a container of plain yogurt may help.
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Papaya fruit is a great natural remedy for heartburn. The fruit itself is the best, but if you can't find the fruit you can eat dried or canned papaya. Simply eat a little after every meal to help with your heartburn during pregnancy.
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Gladstar, Rosemary. Herbal Healing for Women. Fireside, 1993.
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Natural Remedies for Heartburn During Pregnancy
While pregnancy is a joyous time, it also can be a time of headaches, morning sickness, sciatic pain and other common discomforts. Luckily, there are many natural cures that you can use to ease these discomforts and that won't involve chemicals that may injure your baby.