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Heartburn causes discomfort and pain and interferes with your usual eating and sleeping routines 1. Certain nursing positions, baby-care activities and dietary habits all contribute to heartburn in breastfeeding mothers 1. Fortunately, most treatments for heartburn are safe for breastfeeding moms, and many cases of heartburn are preventable with changes in diet and nursing position 1.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Nursing in the side-lying position can cause stomach acid to leak through your esophageal sphincter, resulting in heartburn 1. Frequently bending down to change or pick up your baby can have the same effect. Stress and anxiety are risk factors for developing heartburn, so worries about milk supply or the baby’s weight gain can contribute to stress in breastfeeding mothers 1.
Breastfeeding & Leg Pains
Before starting any medications, try lifestyle changes. Avoid foods and drinks that trigger or worsen your heartburn; engage in light to moderate exercise such as walking or biking; or use aromatherapy to help you relax and reduce your stress 1. If these efforts do not alleviate your symptoms, ask your doctor to recommend an over-the-counter medication for heartburn that is compatible with breastfeeding 1. If your heartburn does not respond to over-the-counter treatments, your doctor can prescribe a medication 1. Rarely, surgery is necessary to fully treat heartburn 1. Before taking any medications, make sure they are safe for breastfeeding mothers.
- Before starting any medications, try lifestyle changes.
- Before taking any medications, make sure they are safe for breastfeeding mothers.
Follow the recommended dosage of over-the-counter heartburn treatments such as calcium carbonate, especially if you consume them with milk 1. Large amounts of calcium can cause you to develop kidney stones or even kidney failure, explains Dr. Jack Newman of the Breastfeeding website. Small amounts of medications used to treat heartburn, such as:
- do pass into mothers' milk; however
- this medication is frequently used to treat acid reflux in babies,
- is generally considered safe
- especially in the small amount your baby will consume through your milk 1
What Causes Heartburn in Women?
Avoid using the side-lying position to nurse for 3 to 4 hours after you have eaten a meal. Decrease your portion size when eating, and eat slowly, giving yourself time to digest your food. Wear clothes that fit, advises the Cleveland Clinic website, even if it means you must buy a size or two larger than your pre-pregnancy clothes. Drink plenty of water to aid digestion and keep your milk supply up.
- Avoid using the side-lying position to nurse for 3 to 4 hours after you have eaten a meal.
Breastfeeding & Leg Pains
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Does Caffeine Decrease Breast Milk Supply?
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How to Soothe Your Stomach After Eating Hot Peppers
- MayoClinic.com: Heartburn
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- Harvard Medical School. 11 stomach-soothing steps for heartburn.
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- Cleveland Clinic. Why does your heartburn always seem worse at night?. August 17, 2017.
- Cleveland Clinic. GERD (chronic acid reflux). Updated December 6, 2019.
- Allampati S, Lopez R, Thota PN, Ray M, Birgisson S, Gabbard SL. Use of a positional therapy device significantly improves nocturnal gastroesophageal reflux symptoms. Diseases of the Esophagus. 2016. doi:10.1111/dote.12495.
- Ness-Jensen E, Hveem K, El-Serag H, Lagergren J. Lifestyle intervention in gastroesophageal reflux disease. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology : The Official Clinical Practice Journal of the American Gastroenterological Association. 2016;14(2):175-182.e3. doi:10.1016/j.cgh.2015.04.176
Jessica Lietz has been writing about health-related topics since 2009. She has several years of experience in genetics research, survey design, analysis and epidemiology, working on both infectious and chronic diseases. Lietz holds a Master of Public Health in epidemiology from The Ohio State University.