10 Tips for Soothing Heartburn in Pregnancy

Medically reviewed by Janine Kelbach, RNC-OB on February 9, 2016Written by April Newton on February 9, 2016
relieve heartburn

Few things are as unpleasant as the deep, painful sensation of heartburn during pregnancy.

Unfortunately, many women experience this uncomfortable symptom on the road to motherhood. It’s as common as swollen ankles, morning sickness, and acne.

Luckily, there are several pregnancy-safe ways to manage heartburn.

Here are 10 tips to soothe the burn.

What Causes Heartburn During Pregnancy?

Progesterone is one of the main culprits of pregnancy heartburn. Progesterone is a vital hormone that helps in nearly every part of the pregnancy process.

One of its jobs is to relax your muscles. This unfortunately includes the valve between your stomach and your esophagus, which leaves you especially vulnerable to heartburn.

The problem is often worse during the third trimester when your growing uterus is also putting extra pressure on your stomach. Follow these tips to find some relief.

1. Eat Small Meals

Many women find eating five to six small meals a day makes a big difference. As long as you are eating enough healthy foods to support your pregnancy throughout the day, sticking to the breakfast, lunch, and dinner schedule isn’t necessary.

Let’s be real: Permission to eat several times a day while you’re pregnant is actually pretty appealing.

2. Eat Slowly

Researchers have found that people who take more time to eat have fewer problems with acid reflux. You don’t have to turn dinner into an all-night affair, but try to finish your plate in 20 minutes instead of wolfing it down.

Stretching your meal out can be relaxing, so it’s a bonus if it also cuts down on discomfort afterward.

3. Avoid Trigger Foods

Even if you are craving Buffalo wings during your pregnancy, you might want to think twice before you dig in. Spicy foods can trigger heartburn.

Rich, fatty, and fried foods might also give you trouble. If you’re having heartburn, you might want to avoid tomato sauce, mint, and coffee.

4. Turn Down the Heat

People often argue over what foods cause heartburn. There’s also disagreement over ways to prevent it.

Try probiotic-rich foods that are fermented, including:

  • yogurt
  • kefir
  • pickles
  • kimchi

These may help keep heartburn at bay. They also help you avoid constipation, another annoying pregnancy symptom.

5. Stay Up

Avoid lying down right after eating to prevent heartburn. Taking a leisurely walk around after eating may help, too. Vigorous exercise can aggravate heartburn, so keep it light.

If nighttime heartburn is your problem, elevate yourself in bed for relief. A few extra pillows or a wedge pillow can push your upper body high enough to keep stomach acids where they belong.

Sitting upright to sleep isn’t ideal, so you can also try to put blocks under the head of your bed to raise the whole thing up a few inches.

6. Keep Comfortable

Maternity pants work in your favor when it comes to heartburn. An elastic waste can help reduce discomfort. Avoid belts or anything else that compresses your middle.

7. Chew Gum

Chewing gum is often recommended to fight heartburn, but experts differ in opinion about how well it works. Some say the gum helps produce saliva that moves food through the esophagus and relieves pain. Others say it just increases the stomach acids that are causing problems.

Either way, avoid mint-flavored gum so you don’t relax the valve that blocks acid from entering the esophagus.

8. Try Antacids

Doctors usually recommend TUMS and other chewable antacids made with calcium carbonate for mild cases of heartburn.

Many of the over-the-counter brands are considered safe to take during pregnancy, but always check with your doctor before taking them.

9. Consider a Prescription

Women who suffer from serious heartburn pain during their pregnancy may find relief with prescription medicine. It’s important to discuss with your doctor whether this is the right option for you.

10. Stay Healthy

All of these recommendations add up to the same thing: Take good care of yourself during pregnancy. Don’t smoke, don’t drink alcohol, and avoid unhealthy foods.

The same recommendations apply to heartburn sufferers who aren’t pregnant. These are pretty simple ways to fight the flames, but can really make a difference.

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