Heartburn during Pregnancy

Most women experience heartburn in pregnancy and it can become frequent.

One possible cause of heartburn in pregnancy; is the extra pressure on the stomach (during the third trimester) exerted by the growing baby. Also, during pregnancy, theplacenta produces the hormone progesterone, which relaxes the smooth muscles of the uterus. This hormone also relaxes the valve that separates the esophagus from the stomach, allowing gastric acids to seep back up the pipe, which causes that uncomfortable burning sensation. Progesterone also slows down the wavelike contractions of the stomach, making digestion sluggish. In later pregnancy, the growing baby crowds the abdominal cavity, slowing elimination and pushing up the stomach acids to cause heartburn.

Steps to minimize your discomfort

Though it is difficult to completely eliminate the cause of heartburn, these steps will help you minimize the discomfort.

  • Eat several small meals throughout the day. Take your time eating, and chew thoroughly.

  • Avoid having a lot to drink with meals. You swallow more air when you drink with meals and this can aggravate heartburn when it subsequently comes up again.. (It's important to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water daily during pregnancy, but drink it between meals.)

  • Eat your last meal no later than three hours before bedtime and wait at least an hour after meals before lying down

    If you are experiencing heartburn there are a few natural things you can do to relieve the symptoms:

    • Eat yogurt or drink a glass of milk

    • Try a tablespoon of honey in a glass of warm milk

  • Sleep propped up with several pillows or elevate the head of your bed with a few books or a board. Gravity will help keep your stomach acids where they should be and aid your digestion.

  • Gain a sensible amount of weight and stay within the guidelines your healthcare provider suggests.

  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing; avoid any tightness around your waist and tummy.

  • Try to bend at the knees instead of at the waist. Avoid abdominal exercises that require bending.


  • Don't smoke

  • Avoid foods and drinks that cause you gastrointestinal distress. The usual suspects are carbonated beverages, alcohol; caffeine; chocolate; high-acid foods like citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes, mustard, and vinegar; processed meats; mint products; and spicy, highly seasoned, fried, and fatty foods.

  • An over-the-counter antacid that contains magnesium or calcium may ease discomfort, but check with your prenatal caregiver before taking one because some brands are high in sodium.


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