How can I treat my heartburn?

Heartburn is a common symptom of acid reflux, which occurs when stomach acid moves backwards into the esophagus (the tube that connects your stomach and throat). Acid reflux – and in turn, heartburn – occurs frequently in pregnancy because pregnancy hormones act to relax the valve that connects the stomach and the esophagus. That makes stomach acid more readily able to flow backwards into the esophagus, causing very uncomfortable symptoms! Luckily, there are lifestyle changes, foods, and medications that are safe and effective in managing your symptoms during pregnancy. 

Lifestyle changes:

  • Eat small, frequent meals 
  • Avoid foods such as: 
    • Caffeine (coffee, tea) 
    • Chocolate 
    • Citrus 
    • Carbonated beverages 
    • Spicy or acidic foods (such as tomato sauce, orange juice, hot sauce) 
    • Fatty foods 
    • Peppermint (this is a common ingredient in prenatal teas)
  • Don’t smoke
  • Avoid eating before bedtime, or before laying down (at least 3 hours if possible)
  • Raise the head of your bed 6-8inches (Try putting a wedge under your mattress instead of adding pillows)

Foods: 

  • Ginger
  • Watery foods – like cucumber and watermelon
  • Alkaline foods – like nuts, cauliflower, and bananas 
  • High fiber foods (these help you feel full so you don’t overeat – such as oatmeal and sweet potatoes)
  • Nonfat milk and lowfat yogurt (higher fat contents in milk can make reflux worse)
  • Lemon water (yes, lemon is acidic, but a little in water can help reflux)

Medications:

  • Antacids (Usually Ob providers will suggest trying these first – and you can buy them over the counter!)
    • Tums
    • Maalox
    • Mylanta 
  • Surface agents
    • Sucralfate 
  • Histamine blockers
    • Pepcid
    • Tagamet 
  • Proton Pump inhibitors

There is less safety data for these medications in pregnancy. consult with your Ob provider before taking. We want to maximize use of lifestyle modifications and the medications with more safety data before moving to this option.

  • Omeprazole (Prilosec)
  • Esomeprazole (Nexium)
  • Pantoprazole (Protonix)
  • Avoid! 
    • Antacids with: sodium bicarbonate, magnesium trisilicate or aspirin 
    • Pepto bismol 
    • Zantac 

See also “Is heartburn normal during pregnancy?