11 weeks

Q&A: Heartburn During Pregnancy?

Practically from the day I got pregnant I’ve been suffering from awful heartburn. How can I deal?

Though morning sickness seems to get all the hype, many women find heartburn just as unpleasant a pregnancy symptom. In early pregnancy, heartburn is caused by the hormone progesterone, which relaxes the uterine muscles to fit your growing baby. Unfortunately, this hormone also relaxes the valve between the esophagus and stomach, allowing acid to bubble up from your gut and burn your esophageal lining. In the final months of pregnancy, the baby squashes your digestive organs and causes the same result.

Reduce the risk and severity of heartburn by avoiding triggers like chocolate, coffee, tea, citrus, tomato sauces, spicy stuff and fried foods. It also helps to sleep with your head slightly elevated, and to consume minimal fluids with meals (just be sure to drink plenty of water an hour before and an hour after meals so you don’t get dehydrated). Unfortunately, no matter what you do, you’ll probably still feel the burn sometimes. Talk to your OB about what meds you can safely take for relief (she will probably recommend an antacid like Tums, or even something stronger for especially severe pain).

By Dara Pettinelli