How do I Treat Pregnancy Heartburn?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
An antacid.
An antacid.

Pregnancy heartburn is a common side effect of pregnancy that can be very irritating, whether it is experienced as a burning sensation in the chest or a lump in the throat. There are a number of techniques people can use to prevent and treat pregnancy heartburn. Women who find that these measures do not work should talk to their doctors to discuss other treatment options and explore the possibility of undergoing some diagnostic tests to check for pregnancy complications.

A pregnant woman holding her stomach.
A pregnant woman holding her stomach.

The reason heartburn tends to occur during pregnancy is because of hormonal changes in the body. Weight gain and pressure from the growing fetus can also be contributing factors. Women may also experience vomiting during pregnancy. This can make the esophagus feel raw and cause the heartburn to feel even worse.

For pregnancy heartburn prevention, breaking meals up into six small meals every day can be very helpful, as can avoiding lots of fluid at meals to prevent the stomach from distending. Avoiding carbonated, caffeinated, and acidic foods such as soda pop, coffee, and tomatoes will also help limit the development of heartburn. Spicy and high fat foods should also be avoided. For women drinking carbonated beverages to manage nausea and vomiting, avoiding heavily sweetened and caffeinated drinks is recommended.

Drinking a mixture of baking soda and water can help with heartburn.
Drinking a mixture of baking soda and water can help with heartburn.

Wearing loose, comfortable clothing can also help. If clothes are too tight around the midriff, this can contribute to the development of heartburn. Some women also find that it helps to do yoga and breathing exercises. Prenatal yoga instructors can help women find safe yoga poses for pregnancy and may have advice on specific poses to use to avoid digestive problems and heartburn. Chewing gum after meals may also limit production of stomach acids and prevent pregnancy heartburn.

When pregnancy heartburn develops, chewable antacid tablets can be very helpful. Some women also experience relief by consuming dairy products like milk and yogurt with a small amount of honey added to coat the esophagus.

Chewing gum may help with pregnancy heartburn.
Chewing gum may help with pregnancy heartburn.

If these measures to address pregnancy heartburn do not work, a doctor may be able to prescribe an antacid that will act more aggressively. The doctor can also explore other potential causes of the heartburn in order to determine if additional steps could be taken to alleviate the discomfort. Women who have been through pregnancy might have additional advice and tips on techniques that worked for them; pregnancy bulletin boards are often a good source of information for expecting parents looking for advice.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

ElizaBennett

A lot of "crunchy" types, like home birth midwives, recommend papaya extract for heartburn in pregnancy. I've never actually heard of it working for anyone, but it tastes good and might be worth trying if you are averse to taking other medications.

Personally, I never went anywhere without Tums. But it's important to know that taking too much calcium, which is in Tums and similar medicines, can cause problems (like kidney stones - ouch!). When I started reaching for the Tums, I quit taking my regular calcium supplement and made sure not to buy anything, like orange juice, that was fortified with calcium.

Don't get me wrong, calcium in pregnancy is incredibly important and has lots of benefits - you just need to keep track of how much you're consuming. I'm kind of a dairy fiend, so I get a lot that way!

Kat919

I had terrible heartburn during my pregnancy. I found that I really needed to keep track of my *own* triggers. Dairy can cause heartburn for a lot of people, but my go-to "safe" food was cottage cheese! It seemed to coat my stomach and calm things down.

And my worst trigger was almonds, of all things! I couldn't eat them for anything; it was quite strange.

The other thing that really helped me was to sleep propped up on pillows and avoid eating too much food at night. Eating too much before you go to bed and then lying down flat can cause stomach acid to back right up on you. I even woke up vomiting from the acid a couple of times before I figured things out!

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    • An antacid.
      By: Blue Lemon Photo
      An antacid.
    • A pregnant woman holding her stomach.
      By: anna
      A pregnant woman holding her stomach.
    • Drinking a mixture of baking soda and water can help with heartburn.
      By: Viktor
      Drinking a mixture of baking soda and water can help with heartburn.
    • Chewing gum may help with pregnancy heartburn.
      By: vlorzor
      Chewing gum may help with pregnancy heartburn.
    • Any woman having trouble finding relief from pregnancy heartburn should talk to their healthcare professional.
      By: Maygutyak
      Any woman having trouble finding relief from pregnancy heartburn should talk to their healthcare professional.
    • Pregnant women should avoid carbonated beverages to avoid heartburn.
      By: Brent Hofacker
      Pregnant women should avoid carbonated beverages to avoid heartburn.
    • Yoga is considered a safe exercise during pregnancy, and an instructor might offer specific poses to help with heartburn.
      By: furmananna
      Yoga is considered a safe exercise during pregnancy, and an instructor might offer specific poses to help with heartburn.
    • Caffeine can trigger heartburn during pregnancy.
      By: ritablue
      Caffeine can trigger heartburn during pregnancy.
    • A doctor may be able to explore the potential causes of heartburn.
      By: pressmaster
      A doctor may be able to explore the potential causes of heartburn.
    • Pregnant women may be able to manage heartburn by eating small portions of healthy foods throughout the day.
      By: Milissenta
      Pregnant women may be able to manage heartburn by eating small portions of healthy foods throughout the day.
    • Wearing loose, comfortable clothing can help alleviate the discomfort of heartburn during pregnancy.
      By: Langstrup
      Wearing loose, comfortable clothing can help alleviate the discomfort of heartburn during pregnancy.