Heartburn while breastfeeding

Heartburn is a very uncomfortable feeling. It could be a burning pain you feel on your chest just after eating, or it could creep up on you when bending over or lying down. Whatever the case, heartburn while breastfeeding, is nothing fun, and getting immediate relief is the first thing that pops into our heads. But what medication is safe for the baby and you while breastfeeding?

When you are breastfeeding, you tend to wonder what medications are safe to take and if they would affect the baby in any way. But chances are the medicine your taking is perfectly safe; you need to read the leaflet shared in every medication. For those that are not good for you, you might notice a reduction in breastmilk.

What can I take for heartburn while breastfeeding?

Making a few lifestyle changes can do wonders in reducing acid reflux, like losing some weight, eating smaller portions, giving yourself three hours after a meal before taking a nap, and reducing stress. But if this does help, a doctor will prescribe medications to help relieve you from the discomfort.

Does breastfeeding cause heartburn?

There is no link found between heartburn and breastfeeding; if you are prone to heartburn before pregnancy, this might get aggravated when you start breastfeeding, which could be due to many reasons. Stress from handling a newborn, sleep deprivation, gained some weight due to the pregnancy, frequently bending to even your food choices.

Main Causes of heartburn

It is caused by acid reflux from the stomach into the esophagus. It is usually a common problem among many adults and can be resolved by over-the-counter medications. There are many causes one can get heartburn, but the most common way for breastfeeding mothers is the nursing position. This article will highlight how women who breastfeed deal with heartburn and what to take to stop it.

At the bottom of your esophagus, a muscle called the lower sphincter muscle allows food you have swallowed into the stomach. Once food passes through, it goes back to its standard size. When this muscle weakens or relaxes abnormally, the stomach acid will slowly flow up, causing the acid reflux you feel. At this moment, if you bend or lay on the bed, it could get worse. 

Heartburn is very common in women due to various factors, some of which I have discussed below. 

  • Hormones

Hormonal shifts are known to cause the lower esophageal sphincter muscle to relax, thus causing heartburn. Pregnant and breastfeeding women often have high levels of progesterone, which could lead to heartburn.

  • Weight Gain

Excess abdominal weight causes pressure on the stomach. Nursing mothers usually have extra weight gained during pregnancy. This added pressure will lead to stomach acid flowing back up into the esophagus and causing heartburn. 

  • Nursing

While breastfeeding, the side-lying position will cause a leak into the esophageal sphincter muscle leading to acid reflux. This will also happen when you are constantly bending over to change, bath, or pick up the baby.

  • Stress and Anxiety

Babies cry tons, you’ll change them, feed them, cuddle them and do everything, but they still cry, making it hard to understand why. It’s hard to know when babies are sick too. That’s why new mothers are always anxious and filled with stress and other worries that generally cause heartburn.

  • Lifestyle Habits

Some lifestyle habits that a lot of women partake in could cause acid reflux. A number of these are listed below.

  •  Caffeine- Caffeinated beverages usually lower the esophageal sphincter’s pressure, increasing the chances of reflux.
  •  Acidic and Spicy foods- this usually irritates the stomach lining.
  •  Fatty or fried foods
  •  Smoking or heavy drinking- These decrease the lower esophageal sphincter’s ability to function correctly.
  •  Chocolate and Peppermint, among others

Treatments to relieve heartburn while breastfeeding

Many over-the-counter medications help relieve heartburn. Before taking medications, however, a lifestyle change would make an enormous impact in reducing heartburn. These are a few of the changes you should make.

  • Reduce excess weight – maintaining a healthy weight will go an extended way in reducing acid reflux flowing back to the esophagus.
  • Avoid spicy foods or any food that might trigger your heartburn.
  • Avoid late meals- wait 3 hours before lying down after a meal.
  • Elevate the top of your bed- if you often experience heartburn in the evening while trying to sleep.
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol. Both smoking and drinking alcohol decrease the lower esophageal sphincter’s ability to function correctly.
  • Eat smaller meals- large meals tend to steer to heartburn; instead, eat smaller meals throughout the day.
  • Practice exercise and a healthy diet. It’s advised that you eat slowly, giving yourself time to digest the food.
  • Wear clothes that fit- tight-fitting clothes will put pressure on your stomach, causing backflow into your esophagus.
  • Drink lots of water to assist digestion and keep your milk supply up.
  • Maintain a decent posture when sitting or standing. Don’t do work out on a full stomach.
  • Lay on your left side while sleeping as this makes it harder for stomach juices to flow into your esophagus.

When should you see a doctor?

With a few lifestyle changes and noting the things that cause heartburn, you will notice that it quickly resolves itself. But if there seem to be no changes and bothers you a lot, it would be a good idea to book an appointment with your doctor. The doctor will be able to offer dietary suggestions and prescribe some medication to relieve you from the discomfort. Medicine that is safe for you and your baby while you breastfeed. 

The doctor will be able to prescribe several medications to help relieve you from the discomfort. The following information I am sharing is only for educational purposes but should not be used to replace the treatment provided to you by your healthcare provider.

  • Antacids

It has been known to provide you with short-term relief in a matter of minutes, making it the go-to option for most people when experiencing heartburn. Some of the specific contents found are alginic acid, hydroxide salts of calcium, magnesium, aluminum, other combinations, and some simethicone.

  • Histamine H2-Blockers

The commonly prescribed drugs are famotidine and ranitidine, which are helpful specially to breastfeeding mothers. It will help relieve you from the heartburn you feel while breastfeeding.

  • Proton pump inhibitors

It is also referred to as the PPI, which is the most effective drug for chronic acid reflux. The commonly prescribed drugs under this category are Omeprazole and Pantoprazole for lactating mothers experiencing some heartburn.

  • And several other drugs.

The drugs the doctor prescribes to you depend on your current condition; the doctor might also prescribe medicines that contain baclofen to help relieve you from the discomfort.

Final thoughts on heartburn while breastfeeding

 A breastfeeding mother should avoid using the side-lying position to nurse after eating a meal. Various home remedies are proven to scale back heartburn. Raw natural yoghurt may be a good source of calcium connected with improvement in reflux symptoms. Bicarbonate of soda neutralizes stomach acid to stop heartburn pain and discomfort. Ginger has been used for hundreds of years as a natural heartburn remedy. Apple vinegar and aloe Vera are other natural soothing remedies.

 There is some evidence that taking probiotic supplements can enhance the health of your gastrointestinal system and stop acid reflux symptoms. Calcium is another natural heartburn remedy. It is an ingredient in many over-the-counter antacids that want to treat acid reflux and heartburn.

 These home remedies are best, especially for breastfeeding mums, to keep their babies healthy and safe. Certain foods can help to scale back stomach acid and reflux symptoms; they are as follows.

  • Non-citrus fruits like bananas, apples, melons, and pears due to their high fibre content.
  • Lean protein
  • Whole grains and oatmeal are great carbs as they’re high in fibre. Recent research conducted has shown fibre helps with regulating your stomach acid and in turn, this reduces heartburn and any indigestion symptoms.  
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