One of the most common complaints of pregnant women is acid reflux or heartburn. Taking apple cider vinegar for heartburn during pregnancy is a natural remedy that may give you relief. But before you reach for the bottle of ACV in your kitchen, please take a few minutes to learn some important things you need to know for your growing baby’s safety.
In this article I will explain:
- Why you’re getting morning sickness or acid reflux
- Best apple cider vinegar during pregnancy
- Benefits of taking apple cider vinegar for heartburn
- How to use apple cider vinegar in pregnancy
- Other natural ways to help heartburn in pregnancy
Heartburn in pregnancy explained
Heartburn is a very common symptom of pregnancy. It happens when your acid reflux, or morning sickness, happens frequently. The acid inflames your esophagus or food pipe and you may feel a burning sensation in your chest.
You can get acid reflux and heartburn at any time during your pregnancy term. It may be directly related to your pregnancy or it could be caused by other factors.
If you’re getting acid reflux in your first trimester, then it’s most likely due to the absence of the hormone progesterone. Progesterone relaxes your muscles, and this may cause a few problems in your digestive tract during pregnancy.
Relaxation of muscles makes food move slower through your digestive system. This means food can sit in your stomach for longer than it should and give you acid reflux.
Also, your lower esophageal sphincter muscle, which sits at the bottom of your esophagus or food pipe, can loosen during pregnancy. This muscle that would normally shut tight, can relax and let food and gastric acid reflux back into your food pipe.
Second and third trimester
In your second and third trimester, the obvious reason why pregnant women experience heartburn is that your growing baby is taking up more space. This puts pressure on your stomach.
Combined with hormonal changes which loosen your lower esophageal sphincter muscle, it’s easy for stomach contents and gastric acid to reflux back up into your esophagus.
Other causes of heartburn
Besides pregnancy specific causes of heartburn, your acid reflux may be caused by other factors:
- Large meals
- Eating or drinking too quickly
- Common acid reflux trigger foods including spicy foods, fried and fatty foods, fizzy drinks and citrus fruit
- Some medications
- Certain medical conditions
- Smoking cigarettes
If your acid reflux is mild and is simply a result of your pregnancy, that’s usually not a problem. It will go away when your baby is born.
In the mean time, manage your pregnancy heartburn as best as you can. But if your morning sickness is really bad or if you have severe heartburn, you should see your healthcare professional.
If you had heartburn before you were pregnant, or it continues after your baby is born, these would be other reasons to seek medical advice.
Left untreated, acid reflux can lead to gastroesophageal reflux disease, Barrett’s esophagus and in rare cases, esophageal cancer.
What is apple cider vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar, or ACV, is made from fermented apples. You can buy two types of apple cider vinegar:
- unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
- pasteurized apple cider vinegar
Unpasteurized apple cider vinegar is also known as raw apple cider vinegar. It’s unfiltered and contains the “mother”, which is the cobweb-like substance that gives it a cloudy appearance.
While it doesn’t look nice, raw apple cider vinegar contains beneficial bacteria that keeps your digestive system healthy. The “mother” is rich in digestive enzymes, amino acids and pectin which aids digestion. It’s also good for your overall health.
Pasteurized apple cider vinegar has been purified and heat treated to kill harmful bacteria. Unfortunately good bacteria is removed in the process, and so are the health benefits. Pasteurized apple cider vinegar is a clear, filtered fluid.
Best apple cider vinegar for heartburn during pregnancy
The best ACV for pregnant women is pasteurized apple cider vinegar. You can pick it up from a health food store or supermarket. Look for ACV that has no added sugar or artificial additives such as food colorings, flavorings, and preservatives.
Pregnant women and their health care providers tend to be cautious about food. It’s recommended you don’t eat unpasteurized food and drinks during pregnancy. This is because there is a risk these foods contain bad bacteria such as E coli that may harm your baby.
So while you’re not getting the beneficial nutrition, pasteurized apple cider vinegar can help settle your stomach contents and reduce reflux.
Health benefits of apple cider vinegar during pregnancy
Although there have been no significant scientific studies published in medical journals, there is plenty of anecdotal evident that suggests apple cider vinegar is a good natural remedy for heartburn during pregnancy.
People that get heartburn often have low stomach acid. It is thought that a small amount of diluted apple cider vinegar, taken regularly may help.
Other benefits of apple cider vinegar include natural remedies for:
- regulating blood sugar levels
- prevention of urinary tract infections
- weight loss (usually not recommended for pregnant women)
How to use apple cider vinegar for heartburn during pregnancy
Because everyone’s different, you will need to work out how much ACV you need to control your acid reflux.
It is unlikely ACV will cure your reflux instantly. Depending on the severity of your heartburn symptoms, it might be a few weeks before you see any improvement.
You should start with a little bit and gradually increase the dosage. Somewhere between a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and a tablespoon of ACV is the usual dosage per day.
If you get to two tablespoons and get no benefit, ACV is probably not right for you.
Always dilute apple cider vinegar. Try adding your ACV dose to a cup of warm water or cold if you prefer (about 8 ounces of water).
Other ways to take apple cider vinegar
If you don’t like the taste of ACV in water, you could try:
- add ACV to salad dressings
- add a teaspoon of honey or a little cinnamon
- replace water with apple juice or coconut water (citrus juices are too acidic)
You could also try one tablespoon of lemon juice in a glass of water. It works in the same way as ACV, but is gentler on your digestive system.
Although you can buy apple cider vinegar pills, but these are not recommended when pregnant. Because these are homeopathic remedies, quality cannot be guaranteed.
Warnings and side effects of apple cider vinegar
ACV is best for treating mild reflux and heartburn.
When you first drink diluted ACV, you may experience a slight burning sensation which should go away in a few days. If you have severe heartburn or if it really stings, apple cider vinegar is probably not for you.
Other things to consider:
- ACV may erode tooth enamel – drink through a straw or rinse mouth afterward
- ACV may interfere with medications – diuretics, laxatives, heart disease medication
- may aggravate ulcers
- blood thinning
- irritate your throat
- may reduce potassium levels
Natural heartburn remedies during pregnancy
For pregnant women, any medicines you take can directly affect your baby through the placenta, so it’s a good idea to try natural remedies first. Here are some more suggestions:
- avoid your acid reflux trigger foods
- eat smaller meals
- try probiotics
- reduce stress by doing yoga or meditation
- gentle exercise most days
- try sleeping with the support of extra pillows, and on your left side
- herbal teas including slippery elm, fennel seeds or ginger root
LEARN MORE: 33 Proven Ways To Get Rid Of Heartburn Naturally
The last word on apple cider vinegar for heartburn during pregnancy
Apple cider vinegar is a natural heartburn remedy that works for many pregnant women. Due you it’s high acidity, you must dilute it before drinking.