Heartburn is a common issue during pregnancy. It happens when stomach acid backs up into the tube that carries food to the stomach and can feel like a burning in your chest. There really isn’t anything you can do to fix the cause, but luckily most pregnancy-related heartburn goes away after the baby is born. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to get some relief.
What causes heartburn in pregnancy?
During pregnancy, your hormones cause your digestive system to slow down. This signals the muscles that push food down the esophagus to also move more slowly. And as the uterus grows, it presses on the stomach, which can force stomach acid up into the esophagus, creating heartburn.
Heartburn can start at any time during pregnancy and often gets worse as the pregnancy progresses. Indigestion and heartburn are most common during the third trimester as your growing uterus puts more and more pressure on your stomach.
Getting relief from heartburn
There are a few things you can try to find relief from heartburn during pregnancy including making lifestyle changes and using nonprescription medicines after talking to your doctor. Tips for relieving heartburn include:
- Eat small meals. Try four to five smaller meals instead of two or three larger ones.
- Cut back on caffeinated drinks including coffee, tea and some sodas.
- Avoid highly acidic foods, like tomatoes and oranges.
- Avoid foods that make symptoms worse. These might include chocolate, peppermint and spicy foods.
- Stay upright after meals for at least an hour.
- Take a short walk after you eat.
- Take an antacid. Maalox®, Mylanta®, Rolaids® and Tums® are all good choices. Don’t take antacids that have sodium bicarbonate, magnesium trisilicate, or aspirin.
- Eat dinner earlier, at least two hours before going to bed.
When to talk to your doctor
Heartburn symptoms are usually mild and manageable. Talk to your OB/GYN or certified nurse-midwife if you’re not getting relief, if your heartburn is severe, or you experience other symptoms such as dark-colored bowel movements.
Copyrighted material adapted with permission from Healthwise, Incorporated. This information does not replace the advice of a doctor.