Heartburn also referred to as acid reflux, is a common symptom experienced during pregnancy. This symptom is usually characterised by a burning sensation near your throat, chest, and upper digestive tract. While for some women this symptom subsides after the first trimester, others may experience heartburn during pregnancy in all trimesters.
But don’t worry, this condition can be treated by a few at-home remedial methods, and healthy eating patterns. Read on to know more about heartburn during pregnancy, and relief measures to try to ease the symptom.
Causes of Heartburn During Pregnancy
The cause of heartburn during pregnancy may be based on several factors. We have discussed some of the most common causes in this section.
Change in your hormone levels: A sudden spike in your hormone levels, especially progesterone may interfere with your digestive process and gastric motility, leading to the increased possibility of heartburn.
Relaxation of esophageal sphincter: Hormonal changes during pregnancy relax the oesophageal sphincter, which is a smooth muscle bundle at the top of your stomach, leading to the reflux of stomach acids back into the oesophagus.
Growing uterus: As your uterus expands, the pressure on your stomach increases, worsening heartburn. This is also why many women experience heartburn in their third trimester, when the uterus and the baby are of the biggest size, congesting other organs.
Gastritis: This condition causes inflammation in your stomach lining and can lead to severe heartburn.
Certain foods: Fatty and spicy foods and carbonated and caffeinated drinks hamper your digestive process and can trigger heartburn during pregnancy.
Other factors: Some other risk factors that may be associated with heartburn during pregnancy include being overweight, lying down soon after eating, and having a history of heartburn or indigestion before pregnancy.
Common Symptoms of Heartburn During Pregnancy
You may develop heartburn symptoms early in your pregnancy due to hormonal changes, or even later, during your third trimester, when your growing baby pushes up against your other organs. The common symptoms that you may experience due to heartburn include
Pain in your chest
A burning sensation in your throat or chest
Difficulty or pain in your throat while swallowing
Constant belching or burping
Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
Feeling bloated or heavy
Sweating profusely or feeling anxious
Feeling of regurgitation of food every time you eat
These symptoms usually appear after having meals or liquids, but in some cases, they may also appear at any time, especially if you are in your third trimester.
How to Treat Heartburn During Pregnancy?
You may incorporate certain lifestyle modifications and try some home remedies to ease the symptoms of heartburn during pregnancy. Some helpful remedies include
Yogurt: Adding probiotics like yogurt to your diet can help ease heartburn. You can include a cup of fresh yogurt in one of your meals.
Ginger: Ginger is considered an effective remedy for an upset stomach, and may also help reduce inflammation and prevent acid reflux. You can have ginger tea or ginger iced tea after your meal.
Sugar-free gum: Chewing on sugar-free gums can help the production of saliva, which is known to neutralise stomach acids.
Almonds: Almonds have a rich oil content that can help control gastric acid production and prevent heartburn. You can munch on a handful of almonds as a snack.
Honey and milk: Having a warm glass of milk with a tablespoon of honey can help neutralise your stomach acids and manage heartburn symptoms.
When to See A Doctor?
If your symptoms of heartburn don’t resolve even after trying homecare remedies, then it’s best to consult your healthcare provider. Additionally, certain symptoms of heartburn resemble the signs of serious conditions like preeclampsia. Hence, you must consult your doctor if you have the following symptoms persistently.
Changes in your bowel
Blood in your vomit
Sudden, severe pain in your chest, jaws, and arms
Swelling in your face
After reviewing your condition, your healthcare provider might administer medicines like antacids, H2-blockers, or proton pump inhibitors.
How to Prevent Heartburn During Pregnancy?
Some ways to prevent heartburn during pregnancy include
Timing your meals properly: Heartburn frequently occurs after having a large meal. Hence, instead of having one large meal, you can have smaller, frequent meals timed well throughout your day to prevent acidity and discomfort.
Eating slowly: Gulping down your food quickly might increase the chances of indigestion and acid reflux. Hence, eat your meal slowly and ensure to chew well.
Avoiding trigger foods: Citrusy fruits, spicy foods, fatty foods, and pickles may trigger heartburn. Keep a food diary to identify foods that cause heartburn, and avoid such acid-refluxing foods in your diet.
Drinking plenty of fluids: Drink plenty of water throughout the day, but make sure to have a short gap before drinking water after your meals. You may also have fresh fruit juices and coconut water to maintain good hydration levels.
Elevate your head while sleeping: While sleeping, prop up some pillows to keep your head elevated and ease heartburn. Also, sleep on your left side to facilitate easy digestion.
Heartburn during pregnancy may be a minor problem, but it can make you uncomfortable and exhausted. Hence, make sure to follow a healthy eating pattern and drink plenty of fluids to ease and support your digestion during this time. You can also try the home remedies we discussed above, but remember if your symptoms continue to remain persistent, then it’s best to consult your doctor for guidance and treatment methods.
Suggestions offered by doctors on BabyChakra are of advisory nature i.e., for educational and informational purposes only. Content posted on, created for, or compiled by BabyChakra is not intended or designed to replace your doctor's independent judgment about any symptom, condition, or the appropriateness or risks of a procedure or treatment for a given person.