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Dara Pettinelli

Heartburn During Pregnancy

Here's why you're getting such intense heartburn and what you can do to find some relief.

What is heartburn during pregnancy?

It’s when acid bubbles up from your gut and irritates your esophageal lining, causing discomfort or pain.

What are the signs of heartburn?

You’ll have a burning feeling in your chest, behind your breastbone. The sensation might start in your stomach and work its way up—it also might get worse when you lie down or bend over.

Are there any tests for heartburn?

Usually it will be diagnosed based on your symptoms. If it’s severe or chronic, your doctor may want to see if you have GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).

How common is heartburn during pregnancy?


How did I get heartburn?

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–and also relaxes the valve between the esophagus and the stomach. In the final months of pregnancy, the baby squashes your digestive organs and causes heartburn.

How will my heartburn affect my baby?

It won’t. Don’t worry!

What’s the best way to treat heartburn during pregnancy?

Unfortunately, no matter what you do, you’ll probably still feel the burn sometimes. Talk to your OB about what medications you can safely take for relief (she’ll probably recommend an antacid like Tums, or even something stronger for especially severe pain).

What can I do to prevent heartburn during pregnancy?

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.

What do other pregnant moms do when they have heartburn?  
“This will sound odd, but I’ve found something that works: Put two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar (the raw, unfiltered kind like Bragg makes) into six ounces of water, and drink it. It’s not so bad to drink, and it works! Something about the enzymes in the apple cider kills the acid and the burning. I’ve drank it by itself when I’ve been in the midst of a reflux episode and also drank it while eating a meal I thought might give me reflux.”

“I take Zantac 150 twice a day. I did that for a few months, and when it got really bad, my OB gave me a prescription for Protonix.”

“I took Tums for a while, but they stopped working. My doctor told me to get Prilosec...since I started taking that, I haven’t felt heartburn at all — it’s amazing!”

“I avoid heavy, spicy, fatty foods and big meals. I don’t eat too much at night either.”

Are there any other resources for heartburn during pregnancy?

March of Dimes

International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders

Plus, more from The Bump:

How to get rid of bloating and indigestion?

10 Foods Moms-to-Be Should Eat for Baby

Top 10 Things They Really Should've Warned You About Before You Got Pregnant