Information, Symptoms, Treatments and Resources

Pregnancy Symptom: Heartburn/Indigestion


Heartburn and Indigestion

What It Feels Like

Heartburn is a painful burning sensation in the esophagus, just below or behind the breastbone. The pain often rises in your chest and may radiate to your neck or throat. You may bring up some of the stomach acid into your mouth. 

Heartburn often happens when you lie down, cough, lift something heavy, or strain while passing a stool.

Indigestion is a vague feeling of abdominal discomfort -- possibly including belching, a feeling of fullness, bloating, and nausea.

Why do you get heartburn or indigestion?

Hormones and the pressure of the growing uterus cause indigestion and heartburn. Pregnancy hormones slow down the muscles of the digestive tract. So food tends to move more slowly and digestion is sluggish. This causes many pregnant women to feel bloated.

Progesterone, the hormone associated with back pain and constipation, also relax the valve that separates the esophagus from the stomach. This allows food and acids to come back up from the stomach to the esophagus. The food and acid causes the burning feeling of heartburn. As your baby gets bigger, the uterus pushes on the stomach making heartburn more common in later pregnancy.

How To Alleviate Heartburn/Indigestion

Tips to prevent or alleviate heartburn and indigestion:

  • Eat 6 to 8 small meals instead of 3 large meals — eat slowly. Eating small meals ensures that your stomach is never too full.
  • Drink fluids between meals — not with meals.
  • Don't eat greasy and fried foods.
  • Avoid citrus fruits or juices and spicy foods.
  • Do not eat or drink within a few hours of bedtime. You can, however, drink a glass of milk at bedtime to help neutralize stomach acid.
  • Do not lie down right after meals.
  • Sleep propped up on several pillows.

Call your doctor if symptoms don't improve after trying these suggestions. Ask your doctor about using an antacid. Antacids are generally safe to take throughout your pregnancy. 


Indigestion by Pregnancy Week


Acid Reflux by Pregnancy Week


Read about other common pregnancy symptoms>>

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