What Causes Heartburn During Pregnancy?

If you’re experiencing heartburn or heartburn during pregnancy, the first thing to know is that you don’t have to worry. However, it is useful to be careful about some issues. You can find more information below.

Is heartburn during pregnancy serious?

While you may be used to swollen ankles, morning sickness, and enlarged breasts, pregnancy heartburn or heartburn may come to you unexpectedly. So what is causing this situation?

As the name suggests, heartburn or heartburn feels like a fiery churning that starts behind your breastbone and travels up your esophagus, a tube that connects your throat to your stomach. In fact, stomach acids that cause heartburn can even rise up to your throat.

In addition to the heartburn or heartburn sensation that can last from a few minutes to several hours, you may also experience:

  • feeling bloated
  • burping more than usual
  • feeling a sour taste in your mouth
  • Throat ache
  • coughing often

While most of the time it isn’t caused by something you eat at dinner (spicy foods can make heartburn worse), the burning sensation you have is most likely related to hormones.

When does heartburn start during pregnancy?

For most women, heartburn or heartburn during pregnancy begins in the first trimester, begins around the second month, and continues for nine months. This is a normal part of pregnancy and yes, heartburn or heartburn in this case is a sign of pregnancy.

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What causes heartburn during pregnancy?

If you’re feeling a hot burning sensation in your chest, the first thing to know is that you’re not alone. According to one study, 45 percent of expectant mothers experience heartburn or heartburn. Also, if you’ve had heartburn before pregnancy , it will likely get worse during this time.

Heartburn or heartburn can flare up at any point in pregnancy, so to speak, but is most common during the second and third trimesters. Experts don’t know exactly what causes heartburn, but they suspect it’s a three-pronged problem.


Progesterone, also called the pregnancy hormone because it nourishes your uterus and the baby inside , is the main culprit behind pregnancy-related heartburn or heartburn.

Progesterone acts as a muscle relaxant. In the case of heartburn, the hormone can relax the tight muscle (called the lower esophageal valve) that closes your stomach from your esophagus.

When you eat or drink, the muscle normally opens to allow the contents to enter the stomach before closing tightly. But the rise in progesterone levels that occur during pregnancy can cause muscle relaxation, causing stomach acid to rise up your esophagus and even up your throat.

growing baby

Like your belly, the uterus expands with the growing baby and occupies the spaces of other organs in this environment. Just like a squeezed tube of toothpaste, your growing uterus puts pressure on your stomach, increasing the chances of stomach acids coming out – especially if you’re full.

The larger your uterus, the more likely your stomach will be compressed. This may help explain why heartburn or heartburn is more common as pregnancy progresses.

slow digestion

Thanks to progesterone, stomach contents stay longer than normal. As digestion slows and the stomach stays full for longer, it increases the likelihood of heartburn or heartburn.

How is heartburn treated during pregnancy?

Things that are good for heartburn or heartburn are generally:

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watch what you eat

Not surprisingly, acidic and spicy foods create more stomach acid than light foods. Avoid citrus fruits, tomatoes, onions, garlic, caffeine, chocolate, sodas and other acidic foods. Also, avoid fried or fatty foods that slow down digestion.

Eat frequent small meals instead of three meals a day

This helps prevent the stomach from staying in for longer and allows it to empty faster.

Sit upright while eating

Yes, you heard right. This is really important. If you sit upright while eating, gravity will help keep your food in place.

Do not eat three hours before bedtime

Not eating anything at least three hours before bedtime can also reduce pregnancy heartburn. Doing so will lessen the heartburn sensation you experience at night.

Do not smoke

There are many reasons why you should not smoke during pregnancy, and heartburn or heartburn is just one of them. The chemicals in cigarettes cause the valve that keeps stomach contents down to relax. This allows acids and undigested food to splash upward and cause heartburn.

You may be interested in our article on smoking during pregnancy and its terrible harms .

Keep your head high while sleeping

The easiest way to achieve this is to place pillows under your shoulders or buy an adjustable mattress. Sleeping in this way can prevent the contents of the stomach from rising up and thus preventing heartburn.

wear loose clothing

Avoid tight-fitting clothes that may tighten your body and make you and your baby uncomfortable. Take care to wear things that you feel comfortable in and that do not bore you.

Do not drink water while eating

If you drink liquids with your meal, you can create an overfilled, droopy stomach environment that is prepared for heartburn. Therefore, be careful to drink water after meals.

try acupuncture

In a 2015 study, women who underwent acupuncture reported improvement in sleep, eating, and pregnancy heartburn or heartburn problems.

do not drink alcohol

Besides the fact that exposure to alcohol can cause all sorts of problems for your developing baby — everything from low birth weight to learning difficulties — alcohol can also loosen the valve that keeps stomach contents in the stomach.

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Talk to your doctor about heartburn medications

While it may seem okay to use some over-the-counter medications, you should definitely talk to your doctor before doing such a thing.

Antacids help neutralize the acid in your stomach and relieve that burning sensation. The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health says it’s safe to use over-the-counter antacids containing calcium carbonate if your doctor has recommended it.

If you haven’t been able to relieve your heartburn or heartburn with lifestyle changes, your doctor may recommend certain medications that are generally considered safe during pregnancy. In some cases, it may be necessary to use strong drugs.

Remember, your doctor will decide which medicine to take and how.

Things you should not do about heartburn during pregnancy

When you are pregnant, you have to make sure that whatever you put into your body is safe. Some heartburn remedies that may be suitable for your non-pregnant sister but not for you include:

  • Antacids containing sodium bicarbonate may increase swelling.
  • Use of aspirin during pregnancy has been associated with pregnancy loss, heart defects, and bleeding in the brain in premature babies.
  • Do not use antacids containing magnesium trisilicate, which have not been proven to be safe for use during pregnancy, without the knowledge of your doctor.

As a result

While heartburn or heartburn is common and bothersome during pregnancy, this should subside and hormone levels should return to normal when you give birth.

You may not be able to prevent heartburn or heartburn, especially when you’re not pregnant, but some simple lifestyle changes can help, such as eating small and frequent meals and avoiding spicy or fatty foods. You may also benefit if you sleep with your head and shoulders elevated.

If these measures do not provide enough relief, you should talk to your doctor about medications that are safe to use during pregnancy.

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