Common causes of heartburn during pregnancy

 Common causes of heartburn during pregnancy

Heartburn is a typical pregnant symptom. Heartburn and acid reflux can be brought on by changes in hormone levels and body composition. Symptoms can be avoided and relieved with a few dietary and lifestyle adjustments.

When your chest starts to burn, you have heartburn. Your throat may get more uncomfortable. A sour or bitter taste might also be present in the back of your throat.

Despite the name "heartburn," it has nothing to do with your heart. Acid reflux, which happens when stomach acid rises from your stomach to your oesophagus, is the source of it. The tube that transports food, liquids, and saliva to your stomach is called the oesophagus.

The lower oesophagal sphincter (LES), a muscle, is located between the oesophagus and the stomach. It opens to let food in and then shuts to prevent acid from going back up your oesophagus. However, if the LES isn't functioning properly, the acid may enter your oesophagus and cause heartburn.

Difference between acid reflux and heartburn

Heartburn and acid reflux are commonly used interchangeably. But their definitions diverge:

Acid reflux is the result of the LES failing to contract as it should. This makes it possible for stomach acid to ascend from the stomach to the oesophagus. (A serious case of acid reflux is gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD.)

Heartburn: Acid reflux can cause heartburn, discomfort or a burning sensation in your chest.

As the baby develops and hormone levels change, pregnant women may have heartburn and acid reflux. You may get a burning sensation as well, which can persist for several minutes to many hours. You may also:

  • Feel bloated.
  • Belch a lot.
  • Have an unpleasant sour aftertaste.
  • Ache in the throat or soar throat.
  • Cough frequently.
  • Causes of heartburn

You're not the only one who experiences the sensation of a three-alarm fire dancing inside your chest. One research found that up to 45% of expectant mothers have heartburn. Additionally, your likelihood of experiencing heartburn during pregnancy increases if you previously did.

Heartburn can "fire up," so to speak, at any stage of pregnancy, but the second and third trimesters are when it happens most frequently. The smouldering's specific origin is unknown, but experts believe there are three related issues at play.


The main cause of pregnancy-related heartburn is progesterone, popularly known as the "pregnancy hormone" since it supports your womb and the developing baby inside of it.

Muscle relaxants like progesterone are used. When you have heartburn, the hormone might relax the rigid lower oesophagal valve, which separates your oesophagus from your stomach.

The muscle typically expands to let food or liquid into the stomach before closing tightly after consumption. However, the slackening of that muscle brought on by the pregnancy's high levels of progesterone can cause stomach acid to reflux up your oesophagus and even into your throat.

Growing baby

Your uterus is forced to share a room with some of your other organs as it grows to accommodate your developing child. Your expanding uterus presses against your stomach like a toothpaste tube being squeezed, increasing the likelihood that stomach acids will leak out, especially if your stomach is full.

Your stomach will most likely be compressed as your uterus expands. This may help to explain why heartburn becomes more often as your pregnancy progresses.

Slowed digestion

During pregnancy, your hormone levels vary, which has an impact on how you absorb and digest food. Your digestive tract frequently slows down due to hormones. Food stagnates, resulting in bloating and heartburn.

Ways to prevent heartburn

Here's how to combat the discomfort of heartburn.

Be mindful of your diet. Unsurprisingly, spicy and acidic meals cause the production of more stomach acid than bland ones (until next time, Taco Tuesday!). Avoid acidic foods such as citrus, tomatoes, onions, garlic, coffee, chocolate, and sodas. Avoid fried or fatty meals as well since they impede digestion.

Instead of three meals each day, have numerous, little meals. By preventing overstimulation, the stomach can empty more quickly.

When you're eating, sit up straight. Actually, your mother was correct about this and a lot of other things as well. Your food will remain in place thanks to gravity.

Eat nothing three hours before going to bed. Giving metabolism a head start before you lie down to sleep will help you manage your heartburn since lying down slows the emptying of your stomach.

Quit smoking. Heartburn is only one of the many reasons why smoking is not advised during pregnancy. The valve that holds stomach contents down relaxes as a result of chemicals included in cigarettes. This enables unprocessed food and acidic substances to splash upward and fire their scorching missiles.

When you sleep, raise your head 6 to 9 inches. Placing pillows under your shoulders, lifting the head of your bed with blocks placed below the bed's legs, or purchasing a specific wedge pillow to place between the mattress and box spring are the simplest ways to do this. Another strategy to use gravity to your advantage when sleeping is to prop yourself up.

Try acupuncture if you can. A 2015 research found no change in symptoms between pregnant women who underwent acupuncture and those who didn't, but those who did report better sleep and eating habits.

Abstain from alcohol use. Alcohol can loosen the valve that keeps stomach contents in the stomach in addition to causing a variety of other issues for your growing kid, such as low birth weight and learning difficulties.

Put on comfortable clothes. Get rid of the Spanx and any other clothing that presses on your stomach. Rock your pregnancy and those cosy, stretchy jeans, too!

Consume liquids after meals, not during them. Drinking drinks while eating may result in an overstuffed, sluggish stomach that is just the right setting for heartburn.

Consider heartburn medicines only with a doctor's prescription 

This includes OTC medications, some of which are safe to consume while pregnant.

Antacids assist in neutralising stomach acid and alleviating the burning feeling. OTC antacids with calcium carbonate (like Tums), according to the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, are safe to use.

If lifestyle adjustments haven't been enough to stop your heartburn, your doctor may recommend heartburn medications like Tagamet and Prilosec, which are often regarded as safe during pregnancy. Although these medications are sold over the counter, if your doctor feels it is necessary, you may be given a prescription for a greater dose.

You must consider the safety of almost everything you put into as well as on your body when pregnant. Some heartburn remedies that could be safe for your sister who isn't pregnant but aren't for you include:

Sodium bicarbonate-containing antacids, might make oedema worse.

Antacids that include aspirin, which your infant may find harmful. Premature baby brain haemorrhage, pregnancy loss, and heart problems have all been linked to aspirin usage during pregnancy. As a therapy or prophylactic for additional pregnant concerns including preeclampsia, your doctor may occasionally prescribe aspirin.

Magnesium trisilicate-containing antacids, the usage of which has not been shown as safe during pregnancy.

Heartburn during pregnancy is typical and unpleasant, but once you give birth and your hormone levels return to normal, the sizzle should go away.

If you're prone to heartburn even when you're not pregnant, you may not be able to prevent it, but you can put out the fires by making some easy lifestyle adjustments, like as eating smaller meals more frequently, avoiding spicy or fatty foods, and resting with your head and shoulders raised. Talk to your doctor about pregnancy-safe drugs if these steps are insufficient to provide relief. Pregnancy heartburn is a typical symptom, especially in the third trimester. Making a few dietary adjustments, such as eating more often but with smaller meals and staying away from spicy or fried foods might help you avoid or treat heartburn when you're pregnant. Taking some milk or yoghurt may also help with the symptoms. Consult your healthcare practitioner about the safest antacid to take while pregnant before taking any.

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