Common Concerns During Pregnancy: Heartburn and Indigestion
Heartburn and indigestion feel like a burning feeling at the top of your stomach. Heartburn does not actually involve the heart; it happens when food mixed with stomach acid is pushed upwards from the stomach into to the esophagus. Pregnancy slows down digestion so food stays in the stomach longer. As your baby gets bigger, he or she pushes on the stomach making heartburn more common during the last months of pregnancy.
Symptoms of Heartburn
- Burning feeling in your chest
- Heavy feeling in your stomach
- Feeling sick
- Pain that worsens after lying down
- Bitter or acid taste in mouth
- A few causes of heartburn
- Eating large meals
- Eating foods high in fat
- Eating chocolate or peppermint
- Drinking caffeine beverages
- Feeling anxiety
- Exercising after eating
Tips to Decrease Heartburn
- Eat 5 or 6 small meals instead of 3 big meals.
- Eat slowly and completely chew all your food.
- Avoid too much greasy, fried or spicy foods.
- Eat less citrus fruits or juice if they cause heartburn.
- Eat your last meal at least 2 or 3 hours before you lay down for bed.
- Sleep with head slightly elevated.
- Drink less tea, coffee and carbonated drinks like soda.
- Drink liquids between meals instead of with meals.
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes. Tight clothes can press on your stomach and cause food to go back up in your food pipe.
- Gain the amount of weight recommended by your doctor. Excess weight may increase heartburn.
- Try chewing gum after eating. It creates moisture in your mouth that helps fight the acid in your stomach.
- Bend your knees instead of using your waist when you pick something up. It will take pressure off or your stomach.
When to Call the Doctor
Check with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter antacid medicines for heartburn. If your doctor prescribes medicine and the heartburn symptoms don’t go away, it may be a sign of something more serious. If the heartburn medicine prescribed by your doctor does not work, be sure to let your doctor know right away.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The Best Foods to Eat During Pregnancy. October 2018. Available at https://www.eatright.org/health/pregnancy/what-to-eat-when-expecting/the-best-foods-to-eat-during-pregnancy.Accessed June 2021.
- American Pregnancy Association. Pregnancy and Heartburn. April 2018. Available at
https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/heartburn-during-pregnancy/. Accessed June 2021.
- Pregnancy Birth and Baby. Indigestion and heartburn in pregnancy. May 2020. Available at https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/indigestion-and-heartburn-in-pregnancy. Accessed June 2021