5 Ways to Cope with Heartburn in Pregnancy

Woman with heartburn
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Heartburn may be a fact of pregnancy for many pregnant women. This is usually experienced as a burning sensation in the upper esophagus or near the back of the throat. It is caused by stomach acids heading the wrong direction.

The combination of hormones slowing the digestive system as well as the added pressure on the stomach from the growing uterus is a perfect breeding ground for this uncomfortable problem, though it can happen at any point in pregnancy.

There are some ways to deal with heartburn in pregnancy:

  1. Eat smaller meals.
    To keep down the amount of food meals that there will be less pressure in the esophagus, meaning less risk of the acid backtracking. Think of this as smaller, more frequent meals, particularly at the end of your pregnancy.
  2. Avoid offending foods.
    If you find that spicy foods, greasy foods or carbonated beverages cause you more pain then avoid them for the time being. These are common causes of heartburn, but some women will have issues with heartburn eating a small piece of bland bread. You will perhaps want to keep a food diary to see if you can pinpoint the foods that are the biggest offenders.
  3. Stay upright.
    If you are able to remain upright for about a half of an hour after eating, you might be able to stave off some of the pain of heartburn. This prevents the acid from coming up the esophagus with gravity. This can be sitting up or walking around, basically don't lay down right after eating.
  1. Eat more often.
    Since you are eating smaller meals, you may need to eat more frequently, also known as grazing. You'll still need the calories, just in a different way.
  2. Don't drink during meals.
    Drinking fluids during a meal will add to the volume in the stomach, which can add to the problems with heartburn. Save your liquids for between meals.

    "I had never really had heartburn and it took me completely by surprise," remembers Robin, a first-time mother. "I tried not to freak out, but it was scary enough that I ​called my doctor."

    If you are having lots of problems with heartburn that is not cleared up or helped significantly by these measures talk to your midwife or doctor about other suggestions. Sometimes eating fresh papaya or papaya tablets can be helpful. There are also other over the counter products as well as prescription medications that can sometimes be used.


    Pregnancy, Childbirth & The Newborn by Simkin, Whalley, Keppler, Durham & Bolding.

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