what is this?
If you are feeling a burning in your chest or throat for the first time in your life, don’t be surprised. Heartburn is a common symptom of pregnancy. It can occur at any point in the pregnancy, though it tends to get worse as the pregnancy progresses. It can also get worse at night, adding more sleep challenges to your pregnancy. If you had heartburn in one pregnancy, you are more likely to have it in subsequent pregnancies. (Lucky you.)
why is it happening?
Like many elements of pregnancy, the exact cause is not known. But doctors are pretty sure that heartburn in pregnancy is caused by increasing hormones, like estrogen and progesterone. Those hormones can make the muscles at the top of the esophagus looser, allowing acid to escape your stomach and enter your esophagus.
what can i do about it?
The first recommendations to alleviate pregnancy heartburn is often changing your diet and modifying how you sleep. Your doctor might recommend
- Staying away from fatty, spicy and acidic foods
- Cutting out coffee, soda and tea
- Keeping your head and chest propped up for several hours after you eat and when you go to sleep
If those tactics don’t work, your doctor may tell you to take over-the-counter antacids. Be sure to check with your physician, particularly about avoiding antacids with certain ingredients like sodium bicarbonate and magnesium trisilicate.
And if antacids don’t help either, don’t despair – there are more powerful drugs with evidence of being safe and effective in pregnancy. Some potential drugs to take include Zantac, Prevacid or Prilosec, but talk to your doctor about what they think is best.
For further reading, see:
Heartburn of pregnancy by DH Van Thiel, et al., in Gastroenterology at PubMed
Altered lower esophageal sphincter function during early pregnancy by RS Fisher, et al., in Gastroenterology at PubMed
Double-blind, placebo-controlled study of ranitidine for gastroesophageal reflux symptoms during pregnancy by JD Larson, et al., in Obstetrics & Gynecology at PubMed
The safety of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) in pregnancy: a meta-analysis by SK Gill, et al., in the American Journal of Gastroenterology at PubMed
As always, this article is for informational purposes only, consult a health professional before making any decisions.
Last Updated: August 7, 2017