Pregnancy Heartburn; Causes and Remedies


See How to Put Out That Heart Fire

Pregnancy, as much as it gives you the joy and hopes that you are bringing a little human into the world soon, also comes with certain discomforts that could be mild in some women and severe in other women. It begins with morning sickness, constant sleeping, constant fatigue, vomiting, swollen ankles, and sometimes constipation.

You saw all of these symptoms coming, and you have prepared your mind to face them. However, you never expected something as severe as heartburn. This pain begins from the back of your chest bone, close to your heart. All that you feel is fire being ignited and keeps burning in that region of your chest. Then you begin to ask yourselves so many questions, especially if you are just experiencing pregnancy for the first time, or if you are just experiencing pregnancy heartburn for the first time, despite having a previous heartburn-free pregnancy in the past. Yes, you did not sign up for this, but it happens, though not in all pregnancy cases.

What is Heartburn?

Generally speaking, heartburn is also known as acid indigestion or gastroesophageal reflux. It occurs when acids from the stomach surge up back into the esophagus. It comes with a burning sensation, as its name implies. It begins behind the chest or breast bone and moves to the esophagus, which is the tube-like tissue that connects the throat to the stomach. Sometimes, in severe heartburn cases, this acid that causes the burn can find its way up to the throat. Coupled with the burning sensation in your chest, you may also experience the following;

  • Frequent belching
  • Have a sore throat
  • Frequent coughing
  • Feel bloated
  • Feel a sour taste in your mouth

At this point, it is important to control what you eat, as spicy foods could worsen your condition. You may want to take non-spicy and cold things to prevent it from getting worse. The cause of the burning sensation does not only have to do with jalapenos. It also has to do with hormones.

Pregnant Women and Heart Burn

You are not actually alone if you are having heartburn during pregnancy. In fact, according to studies, about 40% of pregnant women in the world experience pregnancy heartburns. You could also have heartburn during pregnancy if you used to have it even before you got pregnant.

Heartburn can kick start at any point or stage of pregnancy, but mostly it occurs during the second and third trimesters. Although, the main causes of pregnancy heartburn are still undergoing research. However, medical practitioners suspect three factors to be the culprits of this pregnancy health challenge. These factors are;


Progesterone, which is otherwise known as the pregnancy hormone, is one of the biggest culprits of pregnancy-related heartburn. It is called the pregnancy hormones because it nurtures both the baby in the womb and the womb itself. Naturally, progesterone relaxes the muscles of the body, including the muscle that prevents acids from moving up back into the esophagus from the stomach. In other words, normally in everybody, a tissue known as the lower esophageal valve is responsible for the loosening and tightening of the muscles on top of the stomach, such that when you eat or drink, it opens up to ensure the successful passage of what you ate or drank into your stomach and closes up immediately after the passage process is done.

However, progesterone being a relaxer of muscles comes and slacks this muscle or tissue (lower esophageal valve) such that acids from the stomach can easily surge back up into the esophagus due to the lack of elasticity of the muscle caused by the progesterone hormone.

The Baby’s Growth

The more the uterus expands to make more room for the baby, the more the competition of space between the uterus and other organs of the body. The growth of the uterus places more pressure on the stomach, causing almost everything you eat to come back into your esophagus. By so doing, the acid can easily gain access to the esophagus through this process.

The bigger the uterus grows, the more the stomach gets squeezed. This is one of the explanations for the frequent heartburns you experience as the pregnancy grows.

Slow Digestion

Progesterone slows down digestion. It makes food stay much longer in the stomach, causing you to feel fuller almost all the time. The more digestion gets slowed down, and the more your stomach feels fuller, the more your risks of developing heartburn.

Remedies for Pregnancy Heartburn

pregnancyHeartburn comes with discomfort. It fires aggressively into your esophagus and chest. The following are ways to fire back;

Mind What You Eat

Foods such as spicy and acidic foods cause a higher production of stomach acid than bland and cold ones. Medical practitioners advise that the following types of foods should be avoided; citrus, garlic, tomatoes, caffeine, onions, sodas, chocolate, and all other acidic foods. They also warn that fatty or fried foods should be reduced, as they slow down digestion.

Break Your Meal into Tiny Bits

Eat small but frequent meals instead of following the normal three-square meals a day, as this prevents the stomach from getting fuller quickly and also helps it empty up quickly for the next meal.

Sit Upright When You Eat

Maintain a correct sitting position when you eat. Do not eat while lying down, as it can be dangerous for you. In addition, gravity helps the food stay put.

Eat At Least 3 Hours Right Before Going Off to Bed

Give your food at least 3 hours for it to take its time and digest properly before you lie down. Remember that foods digest really slowly during pregnancy as a result of the pregnancy hormone. Giving your food enough time to digest before lying down will ensure the emptying of your stomach to a safe point. In addition, studies show that the night may also help regulate the stomach content, thereby reducing heartburn episodes.

Do Not Smoke

Asides from being pregnant, there are a lot of reasons why you should avoid smoking. When you smoke during pregnancy, heartburn becomes a recurrent thing. In other words, the chemicals used in the production of cigarettes relax the lower esophageal valve, such that undigested foods and acids from the stomach can easily splash up back into the esophagus, thereby causing heartburn in the process.

Use a Pillow

Lift your head about 8 to 9 inches above your body level when you sleep using a pillow. You can place pillows under your shoulders or behind your head. Also, use mattresses that would support gravity is working for you.

Avoid Tight Clothes

Do not wear clothes that place pressure on your midsection.

Drink Water After Meals

It is advisable to drink water immediately after food, as drinking lots of fluid during a meal could make you overfull and can increase your chances of having heartburn.

Try Acupuncture

Though research is still ongoing as to what benefits acupuncture provides for pregnant women. In fact, studies found that women who did not receive acupuncture during pregnancy and those who did showed no difference. However, on the flip side, pregnant women who received it experienced improved sleeping and eating abilities compared to pregnant women who did not.

Avoid Alcohol

As much as you may try, avoid alcohol and any other harsh drink. Asides from the fact that drinking alcohol could affect the baby and its growth, as regards the birth weight, and learning abilities, alcohol, just like chemicals in cigarettes, can also relax the lower esophageal valve that prevents the stomach contents from emptying back into the esophagus.

Talk to Your Doctor

hospitalAlways visit your Doctor to discuss heartburn as well as the over-the-counter medication you have been taking for it. Reason being that there are some over-the-counter medications that are not safe for pregnancy.

A Note to All Pregnant Women

It is important to be cautious about things you deposit or put into your body when you are pregnant, as pregnancy is a very delicate stage in a woman’s life. The fact that you have pregnancy heartburn does not mean you can use any heartburn drug during pregnancy because you know how effective it is in the elimination of heartburn. Yes, it may treat your heartburn, but at the same time, it can harm your baby and you.

In addition, pregnancy heartburn subsides once you give birth because by then, all the ragging hormone levels would have dropped.

In conclusion, pregnancy heartburn does not occur in every pregnant woman. Its occurrence depends on certain factors, which include the degree of secretion of certain hormones, as well as a past history of heartburn. Prevention of heartburn may not be feasible but eliminating it is. It is also important to seek medical advice during every stage of pregnancy.