More than half of all pregnant women report symptoms of heartburn, particularly during their second and third trimesters. Heartburn is an uncomfortable, burning sensation in the chest area due to stomach contents that reflux (come up) into the esophagus.
Pregnancy hormones can cause the lower esophageal sphincter (the muscular valve between the stomach and esophagus) to relax, allowing stomach acids to splash back up into the esophagus. In addition, the enlarged uterus puts pressure on the stomach, pushing stomach acids upward.
Prevention and Treatment of Heartburn During Pregnancy
To reduce heartburn during pregnancy without medications, you should try the following:
- Eat several small meals each day instead of three large ones.
- Avoid fatty, fried, spicy, or rich foods.
- Avoid chocolate, coffee, caffeine, and mint.
- Drink less fluids while eating. Drinking large amounts while eating may increase the risk of acid reflux and heartburn.
- Don't lie down directly after eating.
- Keep the head of your bed higher than the foot of your bed.
- Wear lose-fitting clothing. Tight-fitting clothes can increase the pressure on your stomach and abdomen.
If your heartburn persists, see your doctor. He or she may recommend over-the-counter antacids or prescribe drugs that are safe to take during pregnancy. Pregnancy-related heartburn usually disappears following childbirth.