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Is There a Remedy for Heartburn During Pregnancy?

I'm in my second trimester. No matter what I eat, I get heartburn. Is this normal? If so, what can I do to feel better?
- Cari

Heartburn — which, despite its name, has nothing to do with the heart — is a common pregnancy complaint.

Many pregnant women experience a burning sensation in the throat and chest when the stomach contents move back up into the esophagus (the tube that moves food from the throat to the stomach). This may be because hormones cause the valve at the entrance to the stomach to relax so that it doesn't close properly, allowing acidic stomach contents to move upward into the esophagus, a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux (GER), or acid reflux. It can get worse later in the pregnancy when the growing uterus presses upward on the stomach.

To help minimize the discomfort of heartburn:

  • Steer clear of certain foods and drinks that can make it worse — citrus; spicy, fatty (especially fried or greasy) foods; caffeine; and carbonated drinks.
  • Eat several small meals throughout the day.
  • Take your time when eating.
  • Drink fluids between — not during — meals.
  • Avoid eating or drinking for 3 hours before bedtime.
  • Resist the urge to lie down after meals.
  • Elevate your head when sleeping.
  • Talk to your doctor about medications that can safely be taken for heartburn during pregnancy.

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: April 2014