How to Manage Heartburn during Pregnancy
Read time: 3 minutes
What should I know about dealing with heartburn while pregnant?
- When and why heartburn occurs during pregnancy
- Nutritional tips to help minimize and prevent heartburn
- Tips to help manage heartburn
During pregnancy, you’re likely to experience new-to-you side effects of growing a baby and all of the hormonal changes that come along with it. One of those common side effects, experienced by up to 50% of pregnant women, is heartburn.1,2
Despite its name, heartburn actually has nothing to do with the heart but rather is a burning pain in the chest or throat caused by acid reflux.3
What are symptoms of heartburn during pregnancy?
You may experience all or some of the following reflux symptoms:
- Burning or pain in your chest
- Burping frequently
- Feeling full or bloated
- Pain with swallowing
- Bringing up food (regurgitation)
- Burning in your throat3,4,5
Why does heartburn occur during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, fluctuating hormones, especially progesterone, can cause the valve between the stomach and esophagus to relax, allowing digested food and stomach acid to regurgitate back up into the esophagus.2,6
This acid reflux causes a burning sensation in the chest, thus the name “heartburn.”
Pregnancy hormones also slow down the muscles of the digestive tract which can make heartburn worse, potentially leading to indigestion, gas, bloating, and constipation.7,8 As if this wasn’t enough, your growing baby may change the position of your stomach, which can alter the angle of your digestive organs, further exacerbating the problem.9
Read more: What You Can Do to Manage Constipation
When will I experience pregnancy heartburn?
Heartburn can start as early as the first trimester but is more common during the late second and third trimesters.6 This is due to your growing baby crowding the stomach and pushing stomach acid upward into the esophagus thanks to the weaker valve between the two. 6,7
Read more: Key Nutrients to Support a Healthy Pregnancy
How can I prevent heartburn during pregnancy?
While every woman is different, hopefully at least one of the below strategies may help improve your heartburn symptoms.
- Avoid trigger foods. Everyone reacts to foods differently, but common heartburn triggers are fried or high fat foods, acidic foods like citrus and tomatoes, caffeine, and spicy foods.1,7,13
- Reduce the size of meals and instead eat smaller meals more often.1
- Remain upright for a bit after eating and elevate the head of the bed when lying down. 7,10
- Take your prenatal vitamins with meals and not on an empty stomach.11
Need help with heartburn-friendly meal and snack ideas during pregnancy? Come chat with our team of registered dietitians, fellow moms, and lactation specialists, available from Monday – Friday 8 am – 8 pm (EST) and Saturday – Sunday 8 am – 4 pm (EST). Chat now!
What else can I do to manage heartburn during pregnancy?
Fortunately, heartburn typically resolves as soon as your baby is born. Here are steps you can take to help minimize it in the meantime.
Some women find sipping water helps to dilute stomach acid and wash away its burning effect.
Read more: Staying Hydrated even if you’re Peeing Plenty
Try drinking milk
Dairy such as yogurt or milk may provide some temporary relief of symptoms. In fact, one study showed that high intake of dietary calcium may help reduce the risk of reflux.12 Since fat for some people may make reflux symptoms worse, consider trying fat free or low fat milk.13
Read more: Why Calcium Matters for Babies, Tots, and Mama
Speak with your doctor before taking antacid medication
While your doctor may approve certain antacids that are safe during pregnancy, it is important to monitor the amount you consume.6,10
Pregnant women are advised to get 1000mg calcium per day from diet and prenatal vitamins,14 but if you’re also frequently taking calcium-containing antacids, it could mean you’re getting too much calcium. Too much calcium may lead to painful kidney stones, and even may affect your baby.6,15
Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before taking antacids.
Nothing helping? Chat with your doctor about medications
If you find the heartburn unmanageable during pregnancy and no remedies are helping, or your symptoms don’t resolve after pregnancy, be sure to discuss this with your healthcare provider.
We know parenting often means sleepless nights, stressful days, and countless questions and confusion, and we want to support you in your feeding journey and beyond.
Our Happy Baby Experts are a team of lactation consultants and registered dietitians certified in infant and maternal nutrition – and they’re all moms, too, which means they’ve been there and seen that. They’re here to help on our free, live chat platform Monday through Friday, from 8am–6pm ET, and Saturday and Sunday, from 8am–2pm ET. Chat Now!
Read more about the experts that help write our content!
For more on this topic check out the following articles:
Meal Plan to Help Manage Morning Sickness
Foods and Ingredients to Avoid While Pregnant
Healthy Weight Gain in Pregnancy and Why It’s Good
Healthy Snacks During Pregnancy