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How Can I Deal With Heartburn During Pregnancy?

Medically reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD

What Is Heartburn?

Heartburn, despite its name, has nothing to do with the heart. It's a burning or uncomfortable feeling in the throat and chest when food and acid in the stomach move back up into the esophagus (the tube that moves food from the throat to the stomach). This is is known as gastroesophageal reflux (GER), or acid reflux. If it happens a lot and causes bothersome symptoms, it's called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

How Can I Deal With Heartburn During My Pregnancy?

Heartburn is common during pregnancy. Pregnancy hormones can make the valve at the entrance to the stomach relax so that it doesn't close as it should, which lets acidic stomach contents back up into the esophagus. It can get worse later in pregnancy when the growing uterus presses up on the stomach.

To help ease heartburn pain or discomfort:

  • Skip foods and drinks that can make it worse, such as 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 liquids between — not during — meals.
  • Avoid eating or drinking for 3 hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid tobacco and alcohol.
  • Resist the urge to lie down after meals.
  • Elevate your head when you sleep. You can raise the head of your bed a few inches or prop your head on supportive pillows.
  • Talk to your doctor about medicines that are safe to take for heartburn during pregnancy.
Medically reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: January 2024