What OB/GYNs Want You to Know About Heartburn and Pregnancy
If you’re expecting, you may also experience heartburn. Discover what doctors have to say about heartburn and how to get relief, fast.
Along with swollen feet, frequent urination, and unusual cravings, heartburn is an issue that affects women during pregnancy. Heartburn is defined as a burning sensation in the upper part of the digestive tract and throat.1
If you are suffering from heartburn while expecting, read on to learn what obstetricians and gynecologists recommend for relief. However, you should still discuss your heartburn condition with your own doctor for a solution that’s right for you.
Identifying the Cause of Heartburn During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, a valve in the esophagus that typically acts as a seal relaxes due to an increase in a hormone known as progesterone. This allows for stomach acid to pass back into the esophagus and irritate the lining, which leads to heartburn.2, 3
Who Is the Most Likely to Get Heartburn?
While no one is exempt from heartburn, OB/GYNs say there are certain factors that make it more likely for pregnant women. For instance, women who experience heartburn before pregnancy are also more likely to experience heartburn during pregnancy. Women who are overweight or obese prior to pregnancy also tend to be more likely to have heartburn during this time. And expecting moms who drink coffee during pregnancy are at increased risk for heartburn symptoms.4
Spotting Heartburn Symptoms During Pregnancy
If you are experiencing heartburn for the first time during pregnancy, you might not recognize the symptoms. True to its name, heartburn is a painful, burning feeling located just below or behind the breastbone.5 Although some women experience heartburn symptoms in their first trimester, the issue tends to occur more often in the third trimester.4 During these final weeks, the expanding uterus puts pressure on the intestines and stomach, which can push contents back up into the esophagus, according to OB/GYNs.3
How to Lower Your Risk of Heartburn During Pregnancy
For some women, diet and lifestyle changes during pregnancy can lessen the likelihood of heartburn. Suggestions from OB/GYNs include: monitoring overall food consumption, eating smaller meals throughout the day, and reducing caffeine intake.2 Avoid eating or drinking too close to bedtime and stay away from spicy and fatty foods to lower your risk of occasional heartburn after dinner and at night.2 As far as specific items are concerned, citrus fruits and chocolate have been linked to trigger heartburn during pregnancy.6
How to Relieve Pregnancy Heartburn
Combined with all the other discomforts of pregnancy, that burning sensation can be really unpleasant. The good news is that there are ways to help stop heartburn quickly. Research shows that drinking milk and eating yogurt may help as well as over-the-counter antacids, like TUMS.3 The antacid relieves the stomach and esophagus, neutralizing stomach acid and providing reliable relief.6 Be sure to talk to your doctor about the heartburn treatment options that are right for you.
- Vazquez, Juan C. “Heartburn in Pregnancy.” BMJ Clinical Evidence, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2015, https://misuse.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/error/abuse.shtml.
- “Common Symptoms During Pregnancy.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000583.htm.
- “Heartburn During Pregnancy: Causes and Treatment.” American Pregnancy Association, July 2015, americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/heartburn-during-pregnancy/.
- “Heartburn in Pregnancy: A Prospective Look at Incidence, Risk Factors, Treatment.” Gastro Journal, AGA Abstracts, www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(10)62191-9/pdf.
- “Heartburn.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 4 Dec. 2017, medlineplus.gov/heartburn.html.
- “Pregnancy and Heartburn.” University of Rochester Medical Center, University of Rochester, www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=134.