Indigestion and heartburn are very common during pregnancy. As pregnancy progresses, the expanding uterus puts pressure on the stomach forcing stomach contents upwards towards the oesophagus. At the same time, the cardiac sphincter between the stomach and the oesophagus loosens thanks to pregnancy hormones, enabling acidic stomach contents to rise up the oesophagus causing a burning sensation. Fortunately, there are some things that can be helpful to ease the symptoms of indigestion and heartburn in pregnancy, cos they suck!
Yoga and meditation can be useful to help alleviate indigestion and heartburn sensations. Any postures that help to open the chest and upper belly tend to be useful.
- Seated cat/cow stretch
- Easy cross leg/hero pose with hands interlaced behind the body and chest/eye gaze towards the ceiling.
- Ustrasana (Camel Pose)
- Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior 1) with lifted arms
- High Lunge with lifted arms
- Supported Reclined Goddess Pose (Supta baddha konasana)
- Supported Reclined Hero Pose (Supta virasana)
Poses to avoid include those where the head goes below the heart (as this encourages gravity to send stomach acid back up the oesophagus), such as downward facing dog (ardho mukha svanasana) and standing forward fold (uttanasana). Downward dog can be practiced against the wall with the chest parallel to the floor to avoid aggravating heartburn.
Other things to try:
- Try eating smaller meals more frequently rather than large meals sporadically.
- Avoiding foods that trigger your heartburn. Some foods that might trigger heartburn include rich tomato dishes (such as Bolognese sauce), chocolate, citrus, spicy foods, fatty foods or anything with a high acid content.
- Stay upright for a period of time after eating.
- Elevate the head of your bed at night or sleep on lots of pillows to elevate your head above your heart.
- Drink 8-10 glasses of water gradually over the course of the day.
- Dilute 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in water and drink when heartburn arises.
- Dissolve 1 tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda in a glass of water and drink when heartburn arises.
- Eat stomach acid neutralising fruits such as pineapple or papaya.
- Eat a couple of tablespoons of plain yoghurt after your meal to help neutralise stomach acid and introduce healthy gut flora.
- Visit your massage therapist, physiotherapist, osteopath or chiropractor to help with your postural alignment.
- Visit your doctor or midwife for further assessment if your heartburn is not immediately helped by any of the above remedies.
Please remember that this information is general in nature and may not be suitable for everyone. Always consult your healthcare provider if you are ever in doubt.
Written by Amy Vaccaro with thanks to Jess Cant for the photos.