Heartburn Hell

Heartburn Hell

I dragged myself out of bed this morning with only one thought on my mind – how to get a good nights sleep with my terrible, third trimester heartburn!  I spent the entire night struggling to sleep while sitting bolt upright, supported by a stack of pillows. In case you are not lucky enough to ever have this wonderful experience, take it from me, it is almost an impossible task. When trying this incredible new sleep position, if you start to drift off, your head slumps uncomfortably to the side and, when you give in to temptation and cuddle up on your side, your back dips into the black hole that exists between the towering stack of pillows and the mattress below.

Up until this point I have been taking as few meds as possible for pregnancy side effects – even those touted to be safe like Tylenol and Tums. I have been able to use natural, herbal remedies with great success and didn’t think twice about my commitment to do so – until last night. I woke up ready to do some research to see if there really was anything to be concerned about or if I might just be being stubborn – don’t ask my husband that question 😉 I also wanted to find out if there were any natural, home remedies I might have missed during my last, desperate, middle-of-the-night search for relief.

 

  • On some sites I found that Tums is classified as a Class C drug by the FDA – a designation which means that it is probably safe, but that animal studies may show detrimental effects (doing human studies on pregnant women would have moral/ethical issues)  On others, Tums showed as N – not yet classified. All this really means is that while it is probably perfectly safe, no studies have been done to show that there is absolutely no risk.
  • Although the daily limit for Tums is 16 per day, the recommended limit for pregnant women is only 7 per day.
  • Excessive use may cause kidney stones.
  • Acid rebound is a concern.
  • Milk-alkali syndrome, which is caused when there is too much calcium carbonate in your body, usually from taking too many calcium tablets or taking too many in conjunction with supplemental vitamin D, which causes kidney failure.
  • High doses of Calcium Carbonate may cause mood or mental changes such as depression.
  • Calcium helps to control your muscles and an overdose may cause involuntary muscle twitches including the muscles of the heart.

So . . . some of these items definitely worry me. I think I’ll be sticking with my home remedies and save the Tums for really, really bad nights. The problems only sound like a concern when too much Calcium Carbonate is ingested.  Even if I succumb to using Tums for emergencies like last night, it is not something I would want to take with the frequency that I require it.

My Tried and True:

Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar (1Tbsp in a glass of water) apparently the presence of acid tells your stomach to stop making so much. I always hesitate before this one though. There is a moment when you add acid to the volcano in your chest and your brain asks “What in the world did you do that for!?”  A few minutes later relief happens.

Milk – lots of it

Almonds-surprising, but true. Their high oil content helps neutralize stomach acid

Ginger tea-great for digestion

Peppermint tea -another digestive aid

Small meals

And, of course, an extra pillow (or 5)

My bed already includes a full body pillow and has since I was 20 weeks pregnant. I have assorted other pillows ready to be pulled into emergency service. There is barely space left in the bed for my husband 🙂

 

New ideas

Pineapple

-contains an enzyme called bromelain which controls levels of hydrochloric acid in your stomach

Aloe Juice

– reduces inflammation

Coconut water

  • a natural acid neutralizer

Fennel seed tea

  • Fennel, like ginger is great for digestion

Slippery Elm Bark Lozenges

– coats the irritated esophagus

Papaya Enzymes

  • assists digestion

I’ll definitely be trying out some of these remedies and will let you know how they turn out.

Does anyone have any magical heartburn remedies to share?

Best,

Christina Turner

 

* For any health concerns during pregnancy please speak with your OB*

 

References

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000332.htm

http://www.nhs.uk/medicine-guides/pages/MedicineOverview.aspx?medicine=Tums%20Antacid%20tablets

http://www.aafp.org/afp/2003/0615/p2517.html

http://www.drugs.com/imprints/tums-18813.html

 

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