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Diseases & Conditions

Heartburn During Pregnancy

More than one-half of all pregnant women report symptoms of severe heartburn, particularly during their third trimester. Heartburn may occur during pregnancy because of changing hormone levels, which can affect how different foods are tolerated and how food is digested. Pregnancy hormones can also cause the lower esophageal sphincter (the muscular valve between the stomach and esophagus) to relax, allowing acids to splash back up into the esophagus. In addition, your enlarged uterus can crowd your stomach, pushing stomach acids upward.

How can I reduce heartburn symptoms without hurting my baby?

  • Eat several small meals each day instead of three large ones
  • Eat slowly
  • Avoid fried, spicy, or rich foods, or any foods that seem to increase your heartburn
  • Don't lie down immediately after eating
  • Keep the head of your bed higher than the foot of your bed. Or, place pillows under your shoulders to help prevent stomach acids from rising into your chest.
  • Ask your doctor about trying over-the-counter heartburn relievers such as Tums® or Maalox®.

If your heartburn persists, see your doctor. He or she may prescribe medications that are safe to take during pregnancy.

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 5/1/2011...#12011