Ashley Graham recently told her fans on Instagram that she is dealing with a strong heartburn in her third trimester of pregnancy, and now, it seems, is taking action.
In a new Instagram story, the model revealed that it is "fighting heartburn" with two things: the papaya enzyme and the prenatal heartburn tea from Bundle Organics. While Graham did not share how these remedies have worked for her, he revealed earlier this month that he has been fighting.
"The amount of acidity I have is not natural," he said in his Instagram story in early December. "I just asked for a papaya extract because apparently that is supposed to help, but damn it, eight months! Do you have to overcome heartburn?!"
Unfortunately, Graham is not alone: heartburn is a common problem during pregnancy, says Christine Greves, M.D., an OB / GIN certified by the board at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies. But in the search for relief, future mothers should exercise caution when seeking herbal remedies, experts say.
"During pregnancy, it has an increase in hormones that ultimately results in a slowdown of the gastrointestinal tract," explains Dr. Greves. "As a result, the food may be in the stomach a little more and that can cause heartburn."
Heartburn may get worse as the pregnancy progresses because there is less space in the stomach than usual and your baby may be pressing against it, which causes some stomach acid to seep into the esophagus and make heartburn worse, adds Dr. Greves.
In general, doctors recommend that you start with lifestyle adjustments. These may include eating several smaller meals a day instead of three large ones; eating slowly; avoiding fried, spicy or rich foods; avoiding going to bed directly after eating; and keep the head of the bed higher than the foot of the bed to help prevent stomach acids from rising to the chest, says Sherry Ross, MD, obstetrician / gynecologist and female health expert at the Providence Saint John Health Center in Santa Monica, California.
You can safely take antacids with calcium or aluminum like Tums, says Dr. Greves. "If that doesn't work, we have a lot of experience using something like Zantac or Pepcid. They have good safety profiles for the baby," she says.
At the same time, you'll want to avoid medications to relieve heartburn that contain bismuth or bicarbonate such as Pepto-Bismol, which are not recommended for use during pregnancy, says Dr. Greves.
As for papaya extract, don't try without talking to your doctor. There is no data on its use during pregnancy, says Dr. Greves, so doctors cannot be sure that it is safe.
And, in fact, there is no good evidence that papaya extract works for heartburn, whether pregnant or not.
"There is little research on this subject," says Jamie Alan, Ph.D., an assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Michigan State University. "The logic behind the use of papaya extract is that it contains an enzyme called papain, which helps break down food in the stomach." But she says that this has not been backed by science.
The tea Graham is tasting is also controversial. While it contains rooibos and cardamom, which can help with digestion, experts warn against the consumption of herbal tea during pregnancy. The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate herbs, so there is a possibility that herbal tea contains ingredients that are not safe to consume during pregnancy.
Ultimately, says Dr. Greves, it is essential to talk with your doctor before trying any supplement or special tea when you are waiting. If you have problems with heartburn during pregnancy, try some lifestyle changes and see where it leads. Then, check with your doctor.
"We have many techniques that can help, depending on your situation," says Dr. Greves.