Heartburn in pregnancy

Heartburn is a common side effect of pregnancy, but is totally harmless

At a glance

  • Heartburn is very common in pregnancy
  • It poses no harm to you or your baby

What is Heartburn?

Heartburn is a burning sensation that is usually felt from the lower throat down to behind the breastbone. It can feel like it is rising from the chest and may move up into the neck or jaw and can leave a sour or bitter taste.

Heartburn in pregnancy is very common and harmless but can cause a significant amount of discomfort.

Why do I have Heartburn?

The cause of heartburn can vary, but if you start getting heartburn during pregnancy it’s likely down to the increase in hormones in your system, namely the hormone Progesterone which helps to smooth out the muscles of your womb during your pregnancy.

As your pregnancy develops, your organs will be shifted and pushed upwards as your baby grows. This makes it more likely that you will experience heartburn as your digestion slows and the acid in your stomach is forced into your gullet.

How can I treat Heartburn during pregnancy?

As your pregnancy moves into the later stages it’s likely that heartburn will occur and it is very common. Despite this, there are a number of things you can do to help alleviate the severity of the heartburn including:

  • Eating the right food – Often heartburn will start after eating as your stomach produces more acid to aid digestion. To help alleviate the symptoms, try to eat food that’s easy to eat and easy to digest. Avoid foods that are rich or particularly spicy or acidic.

  • Eat small meals – Instead of allowing a lot of stomach acid to build up, you’ll benefit from eating smaller more regular meals instead. This gives your stomach less work to do for each meal and the regular amounts of food will help to eliminate the acid in your stomach
  • Drink when eating – Try to ensure you’re drinking fluids before, during and after your meal to aid the digestion process. Drinking milk and other non-acidic drinks will also help to neutralise some of the acid in your stomach and reduce the severity of heartburn during pregnancy.

  • Limit food - Don't eat too close to going to bed, have the last thing you eat at least a few hours before bedtime.

  • Talk to your midwife - Ask your midwife's advice about antacids you may be able to use. And if heartburn is severe and not relieved by antacids, contact your midwife for further advice. 

Can Heartburn harm my baby?

Heartburn in pregnancy is very common and although it can be uncomfortable and painful it poses no harm to you or your baby. 

It’s important to make sure that the pain you’re feeling is heartburn and not an underlying symptom of something else. If the pain doesn’t travel to your throat but remains at the top of your belly, it might be a sign of pre-eclampsia and you should contact your doctor or midwife.

At a glance

  • Heartburn is very common in pregnancy
  • It poses no harm to you or your baby

Pregnancy conditions