Heartburn and Indigestion

Once the queasiness and nausea of the early months lessens, many women are happy to start enjoying their meals again. But heartburn and indigestion may soon spoil the party. These discomforts can happen at any time, but usually hit pregnant women during the second and third trimesters.
It's a good thing they're rarely serious and are easily treated.

What are heartburn and indigestion?


  • A burning feeling in your throat or chest that often happens after meals
  • Caused by stomach acid touching your esophagus, the pipe that your food travels down
  • Has nothing to do with your heart


  • Digestion pain:
    • Heartburn
    • Too much gas
    • Bloating
    • Burping
    • Feeling too full after a normal meal

Both heartburn and indigestion are normal while pregnant and rarely call for treatment.

Causes of heartburn and indigestion during pregnancy

  • While pregnant, the muscles in your digestive system relax and slow digestion.
  • The valve in your esophagus may open or leak, which lets acid from the stomach flow upward.
  • As your womb grows, it pushes against the stomach, increasing pressure on the valve.
  • The slowdown in digestion can also cause more gas.

Preventing heartburn

  • Avoid eating or drinking things that lead the valve in the esophagus to relax further, such as:
    • Greasy or fatty foods
    • Chocolate
    • Caffeine
    • Carbonated drinks
    • Tomato products
    • Citrus juice
    • Peppermint and spearmint
    • Alcohol
    • Onion
    • Garlic
    • Spicy food
  • Sit up straight while eating.
  • Stay upright for hours after eating.
  • Take a relaxed stroll after dinner to get digestion going.
  • Keep your weight gain within healthy limits.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing.
  • Include healthy sources of fiber in your diet.
  • Eat frequent, light meals.
  • Avoid filling up on liquids while eating. Drink fluids between meals.
  • Commit to not smoking or drinking alcohol.
  • Raise the head of your bed.
  • Talk with your doctor about safe antacids.
  • If you are taking any medicine, be sure to check whether heartburn is a normal side effect.

Prevent indigestion

Here are some useful tips to help you lower the amount of gas in your body, and avoid indigestion:

  • Avoid foods that may give you gas:
    • Beans
    • Cabbage
    • Cauliflower
    • Brussels sprouts
    • Broccoli
    • Asparagus
    • Carbonated drinks
  • Don't rule out whole classes of healthy foods, though, as beans and veggies are good for you.
  • Instead, keep track of your body's reactions to foods and avoid the ones that cause you problems.
  • Stay away from high-fat, fried foods.
  • Graze throughout the day rather than filling up at mealtime.
  • Chew your food well. Count how many times you chew each bite.
  • Don't rush through meals.
  • Take your time drinking and avoid gulping.
  • Never drink through a straw.
  • Drink most of your fluids between meals, rather than when you eat.
  • Practice good posture.
  • Stay away from gum and hard candy.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Take daily walks.
  • Don't smoke or drink alcohol.
  • Practice relaxing with deep breathing.

When should I see a doctor?

  • If these tips don't work and you want to try an antacid or an anti-gas medicine, speak with your doctor or midwife.
  • Your doctor can tell you what medicine is best for you or help you make a safe choice from any over-the-counter remedies.

Is it a heart attack?

Call 911 if you suspect that a feeling like heartburn could be a heart attack instead.

  • Both can cause burning chest pain.
  • Signs that pain may be a heart attack, rather than just heartburn, include:
    • A squeezing or crushing feeling in the chest
    • Pressure in the chest
    • Dizziness
    • Nausea or upset stomach
    • Hot flushing or cold sweat
    • Unusual tiredness
    • Shortness of breath
    • Weakness
    • A general unwell feeling with the indigestion
  • Pain that spreads into your shoulder, arm or jaw
  • The good news is that heart attacks among pregnant women are still very rare.

[references] Copyright © 2010 LimeHealth

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