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Heartburn During Pregnancy


Heartburn is common during pregnancy. That's because hormones cause the digestive system to slow down. The muscles that push food down the esophagus also move more slowly when you are pregnant. And as the uterus grows, it presses on the stomach. This can sometimes force stomach acid up into the esophagus.

Heartburn may start at any time during pregnancy. And it often gets worse as pregnancy progresses. Heartburn usually improves or goes away after childbirth.

Heartburn can be a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The same measures used to treat GERD can help with heartburn during pregnancy. These focus first on making lifestyle changes, such as changing your eating habits. Some nonprescription medicines are generally safe during pregnancy. But talk to your doctor before you use them.

How is heartburn treated?

Treating heartburn during pregnancy focuses first on making lifestyle changes. These are things like changing what and how you eat. It also focuses on taking nonprescription antacids.

Some doctors may recommend medicines along with lifestyle changes.

The medicines listed below are generally safe during pregnancy. But talk to your doctor before you use them.

  • H2 blockers. Examples are cimetidine (such as Tagamet) and famotidine (such as Pepcid).
  • Proton pump inhibitors. Examples are omeprazole (such as Prilosec) and lansoprazole (such as Prevacid).
  • Sucralfate. Some doctors may recommend this prescription medicine.

What can you do to feel better?

Heartburn is very common during pregnancy. Here are some things that can help.

  • Eat small meals.

    Try 4 to 5 smaller meals instead of 2 or 3 large ones.

  • Cut back on drinks with caffeine.

    These include coffee, tea, and some sodas.

  • Avoid foods that have a lot of acid.

    These include tomatoes and oranges.

  • Avoid foods that make your symptoms worse, such as chocolate, peppermint, and spicy foods.
  • Stay upright after meals.

    Sit up for at least an hour. Or try going for a walk.

  • Try antacids.

    Maalox, Mylanta, Rolaids, and Tums are good choices. Don't take antacids that have sodium bicarbonate, magnesium trisilicate, or aspirin.

  • Take steps to sleep more comfortably.
    • Raise the head of your bed 6 in. (15 cm) to 8 in. (20 cm). Put the bed frame on blocks. Or place a foam wedge under the head of your mattress. (Adding extra pillows doesn't work.)
    • Eat dinner earlier. Try to eat at least 2 hours before bed.


Current as of: July 10, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.