Keeping heartburn at bay when pregnant
Heartburn is common in the second half of pregnancy and, while harmless, it can be painful. Learn how to reduce its symptoms.
That burning feeling
First, the good news. That burning feeling that you get after eating when you’re pregnant is most likely to be harmless. The not-so-good news? Heartburn can be quite uncomfortable – even painful – and could hang around for the rest of your pregnancy.
Heartburn is a burning sensation in your chest that can extend from the bottom of the breastbone to the lower throat. It is common in pregnancy, caused by some of the hormonal and physical changes in your body.
What causes heartburn in pregnancy?
As your baby bump grows, so does the pressure on your abdomen. Your stomach is being pushed up higher and higher, which in turn forces acid up in the wrong direction. That’s why heartburn seems to get worse in the second half of pregnancy.
Progesterone is another culprit. Experts believe that this pregnancy hormone may slow down your digestion. It may also relax the valve above your stomach, causing stomach acids to pass up into your throat.
Sometimes, particular foods may trigger your heartburn. By paying attention to your body, you can work out which foods have an effect and try to avoid them.
Tips to reduce heartburn in pregnancy
- Eat smaller meals more regularly and chew your food well
- Try not to eat or drink a few hours before bedtime
- Avoid eating spicy foods, onions, fried foods, chocolate or caffeine – these are common triggers
- Try chewing gum after eating – this stimulates your salivary glands, which can help neutralise acid
- Try a glass of milk to ease the symptoms
- Elevate your upper body in bed using pillows
- An over-the-counter antacid that contains magnesium or calcium may ease discomfort – check with your healthcare professional before taking one to make sure it is suitable during pregnancy