Dealing with Heartburn and Indigestion in Pregnancy

Dealing with Heartburn and Indigestion in Pregnancy

Last update: 25 March, 2018

Heartburn and indigestion in pregnancy are very common, particularly during the third trimester. Adapting your diet can help prevent and ease the discomfort.

As your pregnancy progresses, you’ll notice a wide array of symptoms. These are caused by the development of the fetus in your womb, as well as the physical and metabolic changes in your body.

These changes don’t affect every pregnant woman in the same way; every pregnancy has different symptoms.

However, almost all pregnant women experience heartburn and indigestion. This uncomfortable condition is characterized by a heavy or burning feeling after meals.

Heartburn and indigestion are common symptoms which may appear at any stage of your pregnancy, although they’re most frequent in the second and third trimesters.

What causes indigestion in pregnancy?

“Diet, the growth of the uterus and hormonal changes are among the causes of symptoms like heartburn and indigestion in pregnancy”

Indigestion in pregnancy has multiple causes, including diet and the growth of the uterus.

Hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy are another factor. Specifically, progesterone is known to play a big role in heartburn and indigestion in pregnancy.

In pregnant women, the placenta produces progesterone, which relaxes the smooth muscles in the womb. Unfortunately, this hormone has the same effect on the valve that separates the stomach from the esophagus.

This means that gastric acid can rise up into the esophagus, producing a burning feeling known as heartburn or acid reflux.

This hormone also reduces the rate of contraction in your digestive system, slowing down the digestive process. Paired with the growing baby pressing against your stomach, this can lead to considerable discomfort.

Dealing with Heartburn and Indigestion in Pregnancy

Remedies for indigestion in pregnancy

“Practicing certain healthy habits and watching your diet can help prevent indigestion in pregnancy, or lessen its effects”

Although it’s difficult to avoid this symptom altogether, there are some ways to delay or reduce its appearance. These are also useful for relieving the effects of heartburn and indigestion in pregnancy, reducing discomfort and making it easier to tolerate.

  • Avoid overeating. During pregnancy, meals should be light. It’s better to eat several small meals and snacks throughout the day to satisfy your appetite while avoiding indigestion.
  • Be careful with certain foods. It’s a good idea to avoid very greasy or spicy food, beverages containing caffeine or theine and sugary desserts. Upping your intake of fruit and vegetables is another good way to prevent indigestion in pregnancy.
  • Take your time. Chew your food slowly before swallowing. This will help to facilitate digestion. Eating calmly at mealtimes will also help prevent that burning sensation.
  • Drink water between meals. It’s particularly important to get enough water during pregnancy. Equally, it’s possible to drink too much: the excess liquid will lead to swelling.
  • Chew gum after meals. This will stimulate your saliva glands. Saliva helps to neutralize acid.
  • Avoid eating just before bed. Wait an hour or two for better digestion. You can also try sleeping at an angle of around 45º. This position will help to avoid acid reflux, keeping gastric juices in the stomach.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing, avoiding garments that pinch around your waist and stomach.
  • Don’t smoke. As well as being damaging to your health in general, and particularly during pregnancy, smoking increases stomach acid.
  • Avoid stress. Seek out calm and tranquility and try gentle physical activity or breathing exercises. This will not just help with the burning sensation, it will also help you feel better all around.
Dealing with Heartburn and Indigestion in Pregnancy

What to do if your indigestion won’t go away

If you’ve tried all of these tips and your discomfort continues, there are some natural home remedies that can relieve a lot of the symptoms. Drinking plenty of liquid is a good place to start.

Another home remedy is to swallow a teaspoon of olive oil on an empty stomach. This will help to absorb fatty acids.

In moderation, consuming milk and yogurt can also help to calm your symptoms. However, some women are sensitive to dairy products and may experience worse symptoms.

If none of these remedies work, speak to your doctor and ask about specific medication. Antacids work quickly, but they can also have unpleasant side effects.

Remember that any medication you take should be prescribed by your doctor, as it could affect your health and the development of your baby.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Jeong JN. Effect of Pre-meal Water Consumption on Energy Intake and Satiety in Non-obese Young Adults. Clin Nutr Res. 2018 Oct;7(4):291-296.
  • Ness-Jensen E, Hveem K, El-Serag H, Lagergren J. Lifestyle Intervention in Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2016 Feb;14(2):175-82.e1-3.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.