Always consult your healthcare professional before starting ANY medication during pregnancy.

Heartburn and Pregnancy: A Guide

While pregnancy is an extraordinary journey, it has its challenges. One of which is heartburn, or acid reflux, a common symptom many women experience at this time1. The good news is there are ways to minimise its impact while pregnant. Here, we’ll look at some of them, offering actionable tips and remedies that hopefully find you some relief.

Understanding heartburn in pregnancy

Heartburn is characterized as a burning sensation in the chest, the result of stomach acid flowing back into the oesophagus. Although it can occur any time, it’s common during pregnancy, especially in the second and third trimesters2 when your body is undergoing dramatic change. One such change is increased hormone levels, especially progesterone. Progesterone relaxes the sphincter muscle connecting the oesophagus to the stomach, allowing stomach acid to escape1. Progesterone also slows digestion, potentially causing bloating and increased stomach acid production1. Additionally, as pregnancy progresses and the baby grows, the expanding uterus exerts extra pressure on the stomach3, exacerbating heartburn symptoms.

Is heartburn an early sign of pregnancy?

Not necessarily. You can experience heartburn without being pregnant so it goes without saying that ‘feeling the burn’ doesn’t always mean you’ll soon be hearing the pitter patter of tiny feet as well. Everybody’s different. Some women might begin experiencing heartburn early while others may experience it more frequently from 12 weeks2.

Heartburn or indigestion? Understanding the differences

While both heartburn and indigestion are common digestive issues during pregnancy, they are distinct conditions. Heartburn is a symptom of acid reflux involving a burning pain in the chest. Indigestion, or dyspepsia, is a general term for digestive discomfort, including symptoms like bloating, nausea, and stomach pain4. While both heartburn and indigestion can be triggered by certain foods and eating habits, heartburn is more directly linked to specific foods that cause reflux especially those spicy or fatty. It can also be triggered when you’re lying down or bending over2. Indigestion, on the other hand, can occur at any time4

How to relieve heartburn during pregnancy.

1. Optimize your eating habits.

Smaller Meals: Large meals can overwhelm your digestive system2. Eating smaller, more frequent meals helps prevent this.
Mindful Eating: Eat slowly and chew thoroughly to aid digestion1 and reduce the likelihood of heartburn.

2. Identify and avoid trigger foods.

Common Culprits: Foods to avoid include spicy, acidic (like citrus fruits), and high-fat foods. Chocolate, caffeine, and carbonated drinks are also known to cause heartburn. 
Personal Triggers: Pay attention to your body's reactions. What triggers heartburn can vary widely among individuals. Perhaps keep a journal that notes when you experience heartburn, what you had eaten prior and what activity you were doing at the time. 

3. Lifestyle Adjustments.

Posture After Eating: Resist the urge to lie down immediately after meals. Remaining upright helps keep stomach acid away from the oesophagus. 
Hydration: Drink plenty of water between meals, not during, to avoid distending the stomach. 
Clothing Choice: Opt for comfortable, loose-fitting clothes to reduce abdominal pressure.

4. Sleeping Position. 

Elevate the head of your bed or use extra pillows to prevent acid reflux during sleep.

Heartburn during pregnancy is common and can be effectively managed by taking the right approach. It's also important to understand that what works for one person may not be effective for another. Listen to your body and consult with your healthcare provider to navigate this journey safely and comfortably and if your heartburn becomes frequent, severe, or accompanied by other symptoms like nausea or weight loss, definitely seek medical advice. 

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Do not use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding except on medical advice.



  1. A O’Connor, medically reviewed by E Surrey M.D, Heartburn During Pregnancy. Accessed 18 Dec at
  2. Johns Hopkins, Pregnancy and Heartburn, Accessed 18 Dec at
  3. Cleveland Clinic, Heartburn During Pregnancy, Accessed 18 Dec at
  4. Mayo Clinic, Indigestion, accessed 18 Dec at