Discomforts of Pregnancy: Heartburn

Heartburn is a common complaint during pregnancy. Although it has nothing to do with the heart, heartburn involves a burning sensation in the center of the chest.

What causes heartburn during pregnancy?

Heartburn occurs when the valve between the stomach and the food pipe (esophagus) are unable to prevent the stomach acids from passing back into the esophagus. Pregnancy has the tendency to increase the frequency of heartburn because the hormone progesterone causes the valve to relax. This allows the stomach acid to pass into the esophagus and irritate the lining.

Heartburn and indigestion are more common during the third trimester because the developing baby tends to put pressure on the intestines and the stomach. The pressure on the stomach may push contents back up into the esophagus.

What can you do to treat heartburn during pregnancy?

Preventing heartburn is the best way to deal with it! Here are some helpful hints for avoiding heartburn:

  • Eat smaller meals throughout the day versus three larger meals at typical mealtimes
  • Avoid lying down shortly after eating
  • Avoid spicy or greasy foods

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

Over-the-counter antacids may prove helpful in relieving you of heartburn problems. Antacids are considered safe to use during pregnancy, but make sure you read labels. Some antacids contain sodium, which can cause fluid buildup in body tissues. If your heartburn symptoms are severe, your healthcare provider may prescribe medication for you.

Reprinted with permission from American Pregnancy Association. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.