Hey there mama,
Have you ever thought about how our bodies make space for babies? Like…where do all of those organs go?! You can take a look at this illustration here. It’s incredible. It’s a miracle. It also becomes very clear why so many pregnant women are dealing with heartburn. Am I right?
Up to 50% of women experience heartburn during pregnancy. Why? There are a few possible causes. As the belly extends and rounds to accommodate your growing baby, your internal organs are shifting a bit. The intestines start to push upward towards the stomach, and slightly around the top part of the uterus. The stomach crowds into your lungs. Where there was room…there just isn’t much anymore. Add to that, the hormone progesterone can relax the valve at the base of the esophagus, making it easier for stomach acid to push its way up.
When practicing yoga, heartburn can become really bothersome. Here are some tips to modify your yoga practice when experiencing heartburn:
Hang out in downward facing dog less. Being in a position where your heart is above your head (i.e. an inversion) is not the best to keep stomach acid from washing back up. Stay in table top (on hands and knees) when cued to try downward dog. Stack your fists on top of one another in childs pose to elevate your chest a bit. Place a block for your hands to keep your chest lifted in a standing forward fold. Essentially try to invert less and keep the spine parallel to the floor or with the head above the heart.
Try “heart opening” postures. Postures that stretch, open, and lift the front of the body (like the chest and shoulders) can counteract the compression and pressure of the internal organs. Try a supported camel pose. Interlace your hands behind your back while in mountain pose (standing). Practice seated side bending to stretch out the sides of the body. Practice a supported hero.
Practice “light” twisting. When twisting in yoga, always keep the belly forward and think about twisting from the upper back or right around the base of the shoulder blades (those wing like bones on your upper back). You can practice a twist in a comfortable seated position, bringing one hand to the belly, and the other to the floor behind the back. The thought is to “create space” in the body through stretching a compressed area just like the heart opening postures above.
Aside from yoga, there are several natural remedies to help alleviate heartburn, too:
Try eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day
Try raw almonds, papaya enzymes, and slippery elm bark (found at many natural food stores), instead of traditional antacids
Apple cider vinegar can also help! Take one tablespoon with an 8 oz glass of water in the morning. Personally, I do this everyday with lemon regardless. The thought is the apple cider “acid” tricks the stomach into thinking it has enough acid and to produce less.
If you’re experiencing heartburn during pregnancy, I hope this is helpful. My aim is to support you during your pregnancy, postpartum, and birth with yoga and internal healing as a guide. If you know of another mama who may be feeling the “burn” would you pass this along? If you had heartburn, what was the best remedy for you? I hope you are well.