Heartburn During Pregnancy

Heartburn During Pregnancy

That Burning Feeling

Of all the woes of pregnancy, heartburn ranks up there as one of the most uncomfortable ones The myth that your baby will have lots of hair is exactly that – a myth. There’s no scientific logic for this as many babies whose mothers have had severe heartburn are born with almost no hair.

Heartburn is the backing up, or reflux, of the acidic stomach contents into the food pipe. This causes a burning sensation that you feel behind your breastbone, often along with the taste of acidic regurgitated food. It can also feel like a jabbing pain that spreads from the stomach up towards the throat.

Heartburn usually happens in the 3rd trimesster

Heartburn Facts
Symptoms of heartburn may include difficulty swallowing, chronic cough, stomach pain and hoarseness.
hormonal and physical factors that cause the burn. The hormone progesterone, which is vital for preparing the body for childbirth, has the effect of relaxing the valve at the top of the stomach, as well as causing the stomach and oesophagus to lose tone. Then, as the uterus grows, it’ll compress
the stomach and displace it from its normal position. The whole process of digestion slows down during pregnancy, to allow the placenta more time to gather nutrients and as a result, food stays in the stomach for a longer period of time. This increases the chances of heartburn. Heartburn usually occurs after eating or at night.

  1. Avoid lying flat on your back, especially in the latter stages of pregnancy. Elevate the head of your bed slightly or sleep with more pillows than usual.
  2. Relax and practise those coping skills that you will need for labour and motherhood.
  3. Maintain a good posture – slouching will only exacerbate the problem.
  4. Wear loose clothing.
  5. Gentle stretching of the trunk can ease heartburn as you to release and relax the digestive tract.
  6. Stretch by placing your hands on the top of a doorway. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
  7. Don’t eat big meals. Try to eat small amounts more often.
  8. Don’t eat close to your bedtime.
  9. Eat a light evening meal before 7pm. Allow two to three hours to digest before lying down.
  10. Combine your foods properly (eat fruit alone and try not to mix protein and starch).
  11. Cut out bread. Although this may be a challenge for you,
    many women notice a huge improvement.
  12. Don’t skip meals.
  13. Chew food well.
  14. Avoid drinking with meals. Tea, coffee and cigarette smoke irritate the stomach.
  15. Eat pawpaw because it’s high in digestive enzymes.
  16. Avoid highly spiced, hot or fatty and fried foods.
  17. Avoid carbonated drinks.


  • Should you find that you have other problems associated with heartburn, like bloating, flatulence and constipation, take probiotics.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist to guide you on what is safe and appropriate for you.
  • A small glass of warm water with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar taken in the morning and at bedtime can bring a lot of relief.
  • Vinegar is alkaline and counteracts acid accumulation in your oesophagus.
  • Peppermint or ginger tea helps some people, while other women have found that sipping on cold milk or iced water does the trick.

If none of the above help, you may need to seek the help of your caregiver who may advise alkali-based substances (antacids) such as Gaviscon, Rennies, Maalox, or Milk of Magnesia.

They form a smooth protective layer on the top of the stomach lining and contents. In this way, acid is unable to pass through the protective layer and into the oesophagus. However, they may also cause constipation and discomfort.

Excessive use of antacids, especially those containing aluminium, should be avoided because aluminium can be toxic to the foetus. A small amount of bicarbonate of soda dissolved in water should bring relief, but don’t overdo it or take close to meals, because it dilutes gastric acid.

Calcium is nature’s own antacid. It will neutralise excess stomach acid and assist the digestive tract to function more efficiently.

Taking calcium will also help prevent constipation, nausea and vomiting, as well as muscle cramping. Absorbable calcium sources include calcium lactate, gluconate, ororate or sulphate or amino-acid chelated calcium.


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