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Heartburn during Pregnancy: How to Handle?

heart burn during prenancy
Heartburn during Pregnancy: How to Handle?

Author:  Dr. Madhushree Vijayakumar


Consultant - Obstetrician & Gynaecologist at  Motherhood Hospital, Hebbal

Heartburn during Pregnancy: How to Handle?


Heartburn, often described as a burning sensation ascending from the stomach to the chest or throat, is a prevalent discomfort encountered during pregnancy. According to Dr. Madhushree Vijayakumar MBBS, MRCOG, FRCOG, DGO, Consultant - Obstetrician & Gynaecologist at  Motherhood Hospital, Hebbal, the incidence rate is significant, with a range of 17% to 45% of pregnant women grappling with this burning sensation at different stages of gestation. The journey of pregnancy brings about numerous physiological changes, one of which is the relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter due to the hormone progesterone, paving the way for heartburn. This article endeavors to furnish a detailed guide on effectively managing heartburn during pregnancy, ensuring a comfortable experience for expectant mothers while safeguarding the baby’s health.

Understanding Heartburn

Heartburn is the result of stomach acid backflow into the esophagus—the tube that serves as a conduit for food from the mouth to the stomach. The relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter during pregnancy, primarily due to hormonal changes, facilitates this acid backflow, often leading to heartburn. The discomfort can range from a mild, infrequent annoyance to a severe, persistent irritation, significantly impacting the quality of life of expectant mothers. As pregnancy advances, the growing uterus exerts additional pressure on the stomach, potentially exacerbating heartburn frequency and intensity. Comprehensive knowledge about the dynamics of heartburn and its relation to pregnancy is crucial for devising effective management strategies.

Common Triggers

Identifying and understanding common triggers are the first steps towards effective heartburn management:

  • Spicy Foods: Spices can irritate the esophagus, instigating or worsening heartburn.
  • Fatty and Greasy Foods: Such foods tend to linger in the stomach longer, delaying gastric emptying and creating a conducive environment for heartburn.
  • Caffeine and Alcohol: Both substances can cause the lower esophageal sphincter to relax, enabling stomach acid to surge into the esophagus, and causing heartburn.

Awareness of these triggers and judicious dietary choices can significantly mitigate heartburn symptoms during pregnancy.

Lifestyle Modifications

Adopting certain lifestyle modifications can significantly alleviate heartburn symptoms:

  • Eating Smaller, Frequent Meals: Smaller meal portions reduce stomach pressure, minimizing the likelihood of acid reflux.
  • Avoid Lying Down Post Meals: Waiting at least 3 hours after meals before lying down can prevent acid backflow into the esophagus.
  • Elevating the Upper Body While Sleeping: A slight elevation can help keep stomach acid in its rightful place, reducing heartburn occurrence.

Dietary Modifications

Tailoring the diet to include heartburn-friendly foods while avoiding triggers can offer substantial relief:

  • Incorporate Alkaline Foods: Alkaline foods like bananas, melons, and cauliflower can help neutralize stomach acid​.
  • Include High-Fiber Foods: High-fiber foods like whole grains and root vegetables can aid in digestive health, potentially reducing heartburn symptoms​.
  • Avoiding Known Triggers: Steering clear of foods and beverages that trigger heartburn is paramount.

Non-Pharmaceutical Remedies

Exploring natural remedies, always in consultation with healthcare providers, can offer additional relief:

  • Herbal Teas: Certain herbal teas may soothe the digestive system, although the efficacy and safety should be discussed with a healthcare provider.
  • Chewing Gum: Chewing gum can increase saliva production, neutralizing stomach acid.

Pharmaceutical Relief

Under medical supervision, pharmaceutical interventions can provide effective heartburn relief:

  • Antacids: Antacids can neutralize stomach acid, providing immediate but temporary relief​​.
  • Other Medications: Other over-the-counter or prescription medications may be recommended by healthcare providers to manage heartburn symptoms.

Coping Strategies

Employing coping strategies can help manage heartburn symptoms in daily life:

  • Maintaining a Heartburn Diary: Tracking food intake and heartburn occurrences can help identify personal triggers.
  • Seeking Professional Advice: Consulting with healthcare providers for personalized advice and treatment plans is crucial for effectively managing heartburn during pregnancy.


Managing heartburn during pregnancy requires a multifaceted approach encompassing lifestyle modifications, dietary adjustments, and possibly pharmaceutical interventions under medical supervision. By understanding the causes, identifying personal triggers, and adopting a tailored management plan, expectant mothers can significantly alleviate heartburn discomfort, ensuring a more comfortable and enjoyable pregnancy journey.

If you are on the verge of menopause or are going through menopause along with urinary symptoms, consult Dr. Madhushree Vijayakumar at the Motherhood Hospitals.

At Motherhood Hospitals, we have a team of experienced supers specialists backed by the latest infrastructure and facilities. We have the best gynecologist in Hebbal. We are experts in handling complex deliveries, gynecological, and other surgeries including a range of laparoscopic surgeries.

Do make an appointment with the best woman care hospital in Hebbal at a center closest to you. Meet with our doctors who will carry out the required investigations, diagnose the issue, and recommend the most appropriate treatment, enabling you to lead an active life.

If you wish to get in touch with Dr. Madhushree Vijayakumar, please book your appointment here.

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