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Heartburn during pregnancy

Hey, mom-to-be. Have you been getting heartburn lately? While it may not be as dreaded as morning sickness, it's definitely a hot topic (pardon our peptic pun) for pregnant women, according to the Office on Women's Health

But why does heartburn flare up more often now that you're having a baby? And what will soothe the symptoms? Let's find out now.

How heartburn happens

Heartburn occurs when the valve between the stomach and the esophagus doesn't close completely. This allows the acidic contents of the stomach to be pushed up into the esophagus during digestion, creating a burning sensation.

In your case, mom-to-be, heartburn may be happening more frequently due to pregnancy hormones relaxing the muscles in your digestive tract. This causes your entire digestive process to slow down and the valve not to close completely.

Plus, your expanding uterus is putting more pressure on your stomach. This can cause acid to be pushed back up your esophagus.

How to get relief

Just because you're pregnant doesn't mean you have to suffer through heartburn. With a few fairly simple changes, you can often prevent or ease the problem. These tips may help cool the flames:

  • Don't lie down right after meals. Give your body time to fully digest your food.
  • Eat several small meals throughout the day. Small meals are less likely than large ones to put pressure on the stomach.
  • Avoid the foods and beverages that give you heartburn. Some common culprits that cause or aggravate heartburn are citrus fruits, caffeinated drinks, spicy or fried foods and chocolate.
  • Wear loose clothing. Tight-fitting clothing may increase pressure on the stomach.
  • Avoid eating or drinking within a few hours of bedtime.
  • Give your bed a boost. Tuck a few books beneath the legs at the head of your bed to raise it off the floor. This may help keep stomach acids down.

Still have heartburn? 

If making these changes doesn't work and heartburn persists, you might want to talk to your provider about taking an antacid. (Remember: Even though you can buy antacid tablets over the counter, you should consult your provider before taking them. That goes for any medications during pregnancy.)

Most of the time heartburn is temporary, but severe heartburn can be a sign of a serious condition. The March of Dimes advises calling your provider if you have any of the following:

  • Heartburn that wakes you up at night.
  • Heartburn that returns when your antacid wears off.
  • Spitting up blood.
  • Black stools.
  • Trouble swallowing.
  • Weight loss.

More pregnancy news

For the most part, pregnancy is usually smooth sailing, but signs of a possible problem can sometimes occur. Find out what you should watch for.  

Reviewed 1/9/2024

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