Search icon


10th Oct 2018

Pregnancy: 6 ways to deal with heartburn when you’re expecting

Alison Bough

Ouch…heartburn. It is one of the most common complaints in pregnancy: that super-irritating feeling of burning acid can last for months and, for many of us, make life deeply unpleasant – especially in the last trimester.

Although many mamas-to-be suffer at the hands of acid reflux in the last trimester of pregnancy, some feel the burn for the whole nine months. Fortunately, sometimes small changes in lifestyle are often enough to combat the condition and for the most stubborn cases medicinal treatments (that are safe for use during pregnancy) are widely available.

Why? Just why?

Acid reflux during pregnancy is due to an increase in hormones and in the size of the uterus.

Hormones produced by the placenta, like progesterone, are helpful as they relax the relevant muscles as your uterus changes shape. On the other hand, however, the powerful hormone also causes the small valve between the oesophagus and the stomach to relax – meaning that the acidic contents of your stomach travel upwards in the wrong direction. Hello heartburn.

Things often get worse as pregnancy progresses because the ever-growing uterus pushes on the stomach, squishing it slightly and making the closure of the valve (lower oesophageal sphincter) even less effective. Result: acid reflux central.

What can I do?

There are some simple steps you can take to reduce the effects of heartburn during your pregnancy:

1. Keep meals small but frequent. The fuller the stomach, the higher the chances are that its acidic content will rise upwards. Try to eat at least five smaller meals during the day, including two small snacks.

2. Avoid fried and spicy foods, tomatoes, citrus fruits and fruit juices, chocolate, tea, coffee, mint, and carbonated sugary drinks. Herbal or chamomile teas help the stomach to relax and protect the mucous membrane.

3. It may seem obvious but try to wear comfortable clothing: tight-fitting clothes around the abdomen can press on the stomach, making the situation worse.

4. Try not to nap or go to bed soon after eating. A horizontal position lends itself favourably to acid reflux, especially after a meal. Try to stay upright for at least three hours after you have eaten. If you’re used to going to sleep early, move your dinner time back a little.

5. At night, it can help to sleep in a slightly inclined position, with your head and upper part of your body propped up. You can put a wedge under the mattress or do this with pillows.

6. There are several over-the-counter medicines that can be used to fight heartburn during pregnancy. However, antacids can hinder the absorption of other drugs. For example, if you are taking folic acid or iron supplements, you should not take an antacids for at least two hours after taking these products. Speak to your pharmacist about any concerns you may have, they will be VERY familiar with this particular joy of pregnancy!

Join the conversation on Twitter @HerFamilydotie