How To Relieve Heartburn During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, there are many symptoms for you to get your head around, one of those being heartburn. Whether heartburn is a recent occurrence in your life, or you’re a long-time sufferer, read on for everything you need to know about the symptoms, causes, and ways to relieve your heartburn during pregnancy.

What Are the Symptoms of Heartburn in Pregnancy?

If you’ve never had heartburn before, you might think it has something to do with your heart. Actually, it has nothing to do with the heart! Heartburn happens when stomach acid flows back up towards your oesophagus (the tube that connects the stomach to the throat). This common pregnancy symptom is sometimes referred to as acid reflux.

Because the acids from your stomach irritate your oesophagus, when you have heartburn, you feel a burning sensation in your throat and chest at the heart level, hence the name.

Heartburn is very common, and a lot of women may experience it at some point during pregnancy. For some of them, it can be the first time they experience heartburn, which can be startling and even worrisome.

In Summary

Heartburn or acid reflux is very common during pregnancy. It has nothing to do with the heart; rather, the condition occurs when stomach acid flows back into the oesophagus. 


What Causes Heartburn During Pregnancy?

Heartburn can strike at any time during pregnancy, even early on, but most commonly starts at 27 weeks and onwards. Here are the main causes of heartburn in pregnancy:

  1. During pregnancy, there’s a surge in pregnancy hormones which can affect your digestive system.

  2. As your pregnancy progresses, your growing uterus presses against your stomach and takes up more space.

  3. The muscles between your gullet and stomach are more relaxed, causing stomach acid to come back up.

In Summary

During pregnancy, hormones surge, affecting your digestive system, and sometimes leading to heartburn. As your pregnancy develops, pressure on your stomach from your growing uterus can also cause heartburn.


Pregnancy Heartburn Relief and Prevention

Here are 10 tips for relieving and preventing heartburn during your pregnancy:

  1. Eat smaller, more frequent meals, such as five or six small meals spaced out over the course of the day rather than three larger meals

  2. Although you’re probably already avoiding certain foods during your pregnancy, consider skipping rich, spicy and fatty foods that are known to cause heartburn

  3. Try not to eat within three hours of bedtime

  4. Avoid overeating

  5. Cut back on caffeine drinks

  6. Stop smoking. The chemicals in cigarettes can cause muscles in your gullet to relax, causing stomach acid to come back up

  7. Avoid alcohol

  8. Sit upright, especially when you eat. This can take pressure off your stomach.

  9. Prop your head and shoulders up with pillows when you’re lying down or sleeping. This can prevent stomach acid from coming back up whilst you sleep and provide you with some pregnancy heartburn relief at night

  10. Find ways to unwind and relax.

In Summary

To help prevent heartburn, avoid trigger foods and drinks, eat smaller meals, maintain good posture when eating, and prop yourself up with pillows when lying down.


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Treating Heartburn During Pregnancy

The prevention measures listed above may help relieve your symptoms, but if your heartburn is very bothersome, contact your GP, who may recommend medication. Check with your GP or pharmacist before taking antacids or alginates.

Many over-the-counter antacids are safe to use during pregnancy and can neutralise the acid in your stomach, but it’s important to get advice from your GP first. Your GP can tell you the best time to take antacids, and check that they won’t interfere with any other medication you may be taking.

In Summary

Check with your GP for recommendations before taking any over-the-counter antacid. 



A completely horizontal sleep position can make heartburn worse during the night. This is why it’s recommended that you prop up your head, chest and shoulders- above the level of your waist. You can use pillows or raise the head of the bed 10 to 20 centimetres.

The Bottom Line

Heartburn can be an annoying and uncomfortable sensation, especially if you’re already dealing with a lot of other pregnancy symptoms. Luckily, there are effective ways to help prevent and treat heartburn.

You can start by making a few changes to your diet and eating smaller meals spaced throughout the day. If heartburn tends to strike at night, propping yourself up and not eating in the hours before bed can help prevent it.

If these natural home remedies don’t help your heartburn during pregnancy, contact your GP, who can recommend a safe over-the-counter antacid.

Soon enough, you’ll be holding your baby in your arms and heartburn – as well as other pesky pregnancy symptoms – will be a distant memory!

How we wrote this article
The information in this article is based on expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the National Health Service (NHS). You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.

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