When you're pregnant, your body undergoes many bodily changes to grow a healthy baby. One of the most common discomforts during pregnancy is heartburn. According to various studies, between 30 and 80% of women experience heartburn at some point or another during pregnancy.

Heartburn, also known as indigestion, acid reflux, or dyspepsia, is a burning sensation that usually extends from the center of your chest to your lower throat. Though heartburn has nothing to do with the heart, it can sometimes be quite uncomfortable for a mom-to-be. Here's what you need to know about the causes, symptoms, and complications of heartburn during pregnancy, along with ways to deal with it.

When Does Pregnancy Heartburn Start?

Heartburn can fire up anytime during pregnancy, but it's more common during the second and third trimesters as the growing baby puts pressure on the abdominal area. It lasts throughout your pregnancy and gets even worse with your growing belly.

Symptoms Of Heartburn During Pregnancy

Heartburn usually comes on after meals. You might experience one or a few of these symptoms:

  • A constant sore throat
  • A hoarse voice
  • Difficulty in swallowing food
  • A recurring chronic cough
  • The feeling of dizziness or light-headedness
  • Constant pain in your chest behind the breastbone
  • Sudden pain in the back radiating towards shoulders
  • Panic and breath shortness
  • Profuse sweating and chest pain
  • A bad, sour, or acid taste
  • Bloody stools

Causes Of Heartburn During Pregnancy

#Pregnancy Hormones

Progesterone, the pregnancy hormone, is the main culprit behind pregnancy-related heartburn. It relaxes the lower esophageal valve, causing stomach contents to backflow up the esophagus and sometimes even into your throat. This eventually leads to a burning sensation in the chest and upper abdomen.

#Growing Baby

As your uterus expands, it puts pressure on your intestines, causing the stomach contents to reflux up into the esophagus, especially when your stomach is full. The more your uterus grows, the more prone you become to heartburn during pregnancy.

#Slowed Digestion

Progesterone also slows down the digestive process, due to which food sticks around in the stomach longer than usual. This increases the chances of heartburn to a great extent.

#Gastritis

Gastritis is a chronic inflammation of the protective lining of your stomach. Experiencing gastritis during pregnancy can lead to severe heartburn.

#Infection Due To H. Pylori

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a type of bacteria that infects your stomach and intestine. The presence of H. pylori in the mucus membrane of your abdomen can cause burping, bloating, pain, and even stomach ulcers, leading to an irritation of the esophagus.

#Hiatus Hernia

Hiatus hernia is a condition where part of the stomach pushes up through the diaphragm muscle. This leads to partial blockage of the food pipe, causing heartburn.

#Other Causes

If you're pregnant with more than one baby, you're more likely to experience heartburn. Some other causes of heartburn include:

  • Overeating
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Eating oily and spicy foods
  • Citrus fruits and juices
  • High-fat foods and processed meats
  • Excessive consumption of caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, or soda
  • Lying down or sleeping immediately after meals
  • Certain medications like ibuprofen or aspirin

Ways To Treat Heartburn During Pregnancy

#Chew On Sugarless Gum

Chewing bubble gum stimulates your salivary glands and increases the saliva in your body, leading to neutralizing excess stomach acid in your esophagus.

#Add Almonds

Eat a few raw almonds after each meal. The rich oil content in these tasty nuts controls gastric acid production in the stomach, relieving heartburn.

#Drink Almond Milk

Soothe with a glass of almond milk after every meal or drink it whenever the heartburn hits. A glass of warm milk mixed with a tablespoon of honey can also give you some cooling comfort.

#Pop Papaya

Fresh, dried, or freeze-dried papaya is known to relieve heartburn. If you eat papaya, you'll get vitamin A and C as a bonus.

#Give Acupuncture A Try

Studies show acupuncture helps provide relief from heartburn. It also improves your ability to sleep and eat during pregnancy.

Ways To Prevent Heartburn During Pregnancy

#Eat Small Meals Frequently

Instead of having three large meals, aim for eating six small meals throughout the day. Your pregnant body can easily digest smaller meals, which helps prevent heartburn. Also, avoid overwhelming the stomach and empty it frequently.

#Wear Loose-fitting Clothing

Avoid wearing clothes that are tight around your tummy and waist as they can put unwanted pressure on your stomach and trigger heartburn. Instead, wear loose, comfortable, and stretchy maternity clothes that breathe and perfectly accommodate your growing belly.

#Don't Smoke Or Drink Alcohol

There are many reasons why you shouldn't smoke and drink alcohol during pregnancy, and heartburn is just one of them. They not only worsen the symptoms of heartburn but also are bad for you and your unborn baby.

#Recognize And Eliminate Trigger Foods

If any specific foods trigger heartburn or other tummy troubles, stop consuming them immediately. Some foods known to trigger heartburn include citrus fruits and juices, carbonated beverages, mint products, tomatoes, mustard, vinegar, processed meats, fried, spicy, fatty, or highly seasoned foods.

#Sit Or Stand After A Meal

Do not immediately lie down or go to bed after eating a meal. Instead, sit up for a while or take a leisurely walk to allow your body to digest. Also, do not eat right before bedtime. Experts recommend eating at least three hours before going to bed.

When To Call Your Doctor?

To avoid serious pregnancy complications, call your doctor immediately if:

  • You have constant chest pain
  • You have trouble breathing
  • It becomes difficult to swallow
  • Your red blood cell count goes down
Author's Bio: 

I'm Darfashan Parveen, a passionate blogger, associated with WobblyWalk – India’s Leading Maternity & Nursing Wear Brand. I love to read and write about Pregnancy, Parenting, and Baby Care to make people aware of parenthood challenges and easy ways to overcome them.