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Besides making changes to my diet, how can I prevent heartburn during pregnancy?


Updated November 29, 2009

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Question: Besides making changes to my diet, how can I prevent heartburn during pregnancy?
Answer: Increased levels of hormones in your body while pregnant can soften the ligaments that normally keep the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) tightly closed. Also, more pressure is put on your stomach as your body changes and your baby grows. Both of these situations, whether they occur alone or together, can allow stomach contents to pass through the LES and into your esophagus, resulting in heartburn.

There are changes you can make to reduce your chances of experiencing heartburn during your pregnancy.

  • Sleep with your head and shoulders propped up with a wedge pillow, or elevate the head of your bed six to eight inches. This will allow gravity to work for you, keeping your stomach acids where they should be. Here are more tips for preventing nighttime heartburn.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing. You need to avoid any tightness around your waist and stomach.
  • Sit upright in a comfortable chair rather than slouching.
  • Gain a sensible amount of weight and stay within the guidelines your doctor suggests. Too much weight puts more pressure on your stomach, and it can force stomach contents through the LES and into your esophagus.
  • Don't smoke. Of course, if you have the habit, quitting is encouraged to protect the health of your baby. But smoking can also increase your odds of experiencing heartburn.

  • Ask your doctor about antacids. Under the direction of a medical professional, certain antacids and acid-suppressing medications can be (and frequently are) given safely to pregnant women with excellent results.

For more information on all aspects of pregnancy, please check out the resources provided by About's Guide to Pregnancy & Childbirth.



"Healthy Pregnancy" U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. 25 Oct 2009

"Heartburn, Hiatal Hernia, and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)." NIH Publication No. 03­0882 June 2003. NIH Publication No. 03­0882. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). 25 Oct 2009

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