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Pregnancy heartburn: 3 tips to stop the burn

Sarah Caron is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and editor. She lives with her wonderful husband, two adorable kids and two funny beagles. Check out her food blog at Sarah's Cucina Bella.

Beat the burn

That burning sensation, rising up in your throat. The first time you have it, you might wonder what it is, but after that, it's unmistakable: heartburn. During pregnancy, heartburn is a common experience and it can make for a very painful day to day life. But you don't have to take it!

Woman Covering Mouth

When Tammy Lemley, Vice President of North American Network, Inc., was pregnant with her first child, she begged her husband to run to the drugstore at 11:30 p.m. for Tums. "There was no way I could lay down to go to sleep without them. The heartburn came and went at different times throughout my pregnancy. Tums became my best friend and I kept them in my desk, in my car, in my coat pockets, etc so I was always prepared," said Lemley.

Lemley, who also found relief with many small meals instead of three bigger ones, isn't alone. Many women suffer from pregnancy heartburn.

Nurse Midwife Shari Criso, who owns The Birth Boutique(BirthBoutique.com) in Denville, New Jersey, says that there are two causes of heartburn during pregnancy: an increase in progesterone production, which causes muscles to relax and allows the acid from the stomach to rise up; and pressure on internal organs from the expanding uterus.

"Usually you will see it in the second trimester," Criso said, adding that earlier in pregnancy, heart burn is likely caused by the progesterone.

Antacids

There are many over the council antacids on the market. Some, like Tums, have calcium, an important nutrient for pregnant women. However, women should be careful to avoid any antacids with aluminum, says Criso.

Some women, however, aren't helped by antacids. Former television news reporter Orly Telisman, who is Manager of Media Relations for The Field Museum in Chicago, found that chalky antacid pills only left her with an unsightly white mouth during broadcasts – without alleviating the heartburn. She found relief in a prescription for the lowest dose of Zantac. "I took a pill everyday - it was the only thing that helped - and it was better than carrying around my noisy super-sized Sam's Club plastic canister of chalky pills," said Telisman.

Eating right

Eating a lot at once can make heartburn worse, so Criso recommends eating more smaller meals during the day. "Avoid eating large meals and over stuffing your stomach. At that point, your stomach can only handle a little at a time," Criso said.

That's a tried and true technique for some moms. "My best defense against heartburn is to keep eating! Snacking throughout the day, so my stomach is never really "empty" helps keep the heartburn away. Seems like it strikes when I've waited too long between meals. .... So, I eat breakfast at home before work then I have a mid-morning snack. And then, I eat lunch an hour or two later. I also keep granola bars and dried fruit in my desk so I can have an afternoon snack. Sometimes that's all I need to stave off the burning till I can get home for dinner," said Lemley.

Foods that help

There are some foods that can help alleviate the pain of heartburn without the use of medicine. Mel Bail, who writes Mama4kids.blogspot.com, says that she found a moo-tastic solution for heartburn. "Cold milk (even in the middle of the night. It increases the midnight wakings to go to the bathroom, but at least I can fall right back to sleep afterward," Bail said.

In fact, AskDrSears.com recommends drinking milk or eating something similar like ice cream before eating a meal can help avoid heartburn. "Milk, cream, or low-fat ice cream taken right before a meal may coat your stomach and relieve some of the acid burn," the site says.

Also, limit the amount you drink while eating, Criso says. She recommends to avoid gulping water and instead sip it throughout the day. Additionally, spicy foods, greasy foods, caffeine, garlic, onion and cabbage can also cause heartburn to raise its ugly head.

Whatever works for you - whether it's Rolaids, milk or something like saltines or ginger (which do work for some moms) - just know that heartburn won't last forever.

Tell us below: What has helped your pregnancy heartburn?

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