Earlier, I shared my newest bit of pregnancy fun: silent reflux. While I don’t have the typical heartburn symptoms, I do have a month-old sore throat that hasn’t improved. I wake up coughing and choking. And I have a lump in my throat that won’t go away. I’m trying to fight the good fight and get rid of the acid for good in hopes my throat will heal up. And while I’m no doctor — always consult your doctor if you’re having medical issues! — these tips just might help you if you’re suffering from reflux or heartburn during pregnancy, too!
9 Tips for Coping With Heartburn During Pregnancy
1. TUMS. TUMS are my friend. It’s the one item I don’t let myself run out of because it would be a nightmare to wake up suffering in the middle of the night to have no easy recourse for the burn. Plus, you get calcium! My sister-in-law hipped me to TUMS Smoothies during my first pregnancy, and they are the way to go. Much less chalky than the regular version, Smoothies are smooth and much easier to stomach.
2. Over-the-counter-options. Again, check with your doctor for what they recommend, but my doctor-issued “pregnancy book” suggests first trying TUMS, then Mylanta or regular Maalox. If those don’t work, Pepcid or Zantac are options. After those, you move onto prescriptions like Prevacid or Prilosec. I’m giving the Pepcid a shot for now, and if things don’t improve, I’ll be moving onto Zantac shortly.
3. Chewing gum. I’m not a regular gum chewer, but chewing gum is said to stimulate saliva and possibly lessen acid. Just avoid mint flavors, which can make things worse.
4. Eat smaller meals. This one is hard for me as I’m a big eater, and I almost always go back for seconds. But eating more frequent, smaller meals keeps you from getting too full, which can help.
5. Don’t eat late at night. This one is even harder for me because I’m a 9 p.m. snacker, particularly during pregnancy. I’m legitimately hungry at this time and always have a snack. But going to bed soon after eating is a recipe for reflux, so I’m trying to get all my munching in way earlier.
6. Raising the head of my bed. I’d been propping myself up with pillows until I read that it can actually make things worse by putting pressure on your stomach. Instead, you want to raise the entire head of your bed about six inches or more. Luckily, my husband’s a champ — he’s already putting up with my Snoogle, which is like a third full-size human in bed — so he had no problem putting our bed on incline. Stacks of books either under the bed or the mattress will do the trick. We used a big comforter folded up to stuff under the mattress.
7. Watch for trigger foods. Foods that trigger heartburn and acid reflux are sadly all of my favorites. Citrus fruits, tomatoes, garlic, onion and spicy foods are all considered triggers. Chocolate, coffee and carbonated beverages can apparently be culprits, too. I celebrated my diagnosis with Chipotle and will now try to abstain from my favorite oniony, tomatoey, spicy faves.
8. Avoid wearing pants that are too tight. You don’t want to squeeze stomach acid up into your esophagus! Also, tight pants just don’t feel good, particularly during pregnancy.
9. Calm the stress. My doctor said that my reflux was likely a mix of a little pregnancy, a little reflux and a little stress that have culminated in this throat disaster I’m dealing with. So I’m trying to relax and de-stress a bit more than I was. Not easy chasing two crazy kiddos, but some days we watch a lot of Disney Junior!
Have you dealt with reflux of the silent or not-so-silent variety? What helped you cope? —Erin