Heartburn. One of the first signs that I’m pregnant. 

It always felt odd to me that heartburn would be such an early pregnancy discomfort. Of course I imagined being a million weeks pregnant and feeling the burn. Heartburn is incredibly common in the third trimester because of the pressure of the growing uterus.

But basically starting the day I peed on a stick? Why?

Doulas of Cincinnati Pregnancy Guide Heartburn

When you look at the science behind it, it makes sense: 

During pregnancy many different hormones increase, progesterone being one.

Good old progesterone is responsible for relaxing the valve between the stomach and the esophagus, allowing stomach acid to pass upward irritating the lining of the esophagus.

This can make heartburn much more frequent throughout pregnancy. 

So, how can you get relief from heartburn?

  1. Eat smaller meals more frequently. Aim for 5-6 smaller meals per day. When your stomach is extra full pressure increases leaving you susceptible to heartburn. Since you’re eating smaller meals, you might want to carry some extra snacks or a small meal with you so you’re not caught feeling all the pangs of hunger.
  2. Avoid or minimize carbonated beverages. I know. I know. La Croix, aka hipster water, is so good but here’s the thing: carbonation bubbles expand in your stomach causing that pressure to build against that already weakened valve, which can increase reflux. So maybe switch over to a few glasses of still water a day and drop some fruit in it to add some variety.
  3. Minimize and avoid spicy, greasy and fatty foods. Acidic foods like these are irritating on their own, and can cause bloating. You may find that some foods bother you more than others (even things that seem good for you like juice). Make a note of any offending foods and minimize those if possible.
  4. Eat foods that naturally soothe heartburn. If you already have a touch of heartburn, try eating one or two pieces of dried papaya or an apple. Yogurt, a glass of milk and ginger can also be soothing. A small cup of ginger tea or ginger soda after a meal can also help. 
  5. Wait an hour or so after eating before lying down. This gives you some time to digest. If you’re already lying down, try getting up for a few minutes to get some relief. If you lay back down and it starts again, try propping yourself up with some pillows.

If heartburn is persistent and bothersome talk with your care provider. They can give you guidelines for over the counter or prescription antacid medications if none of the above tips are helping.

Have a question about pregnancy? A tip that's worked well for you? Join Pregnant and Parenting in Greater Cincinnati, a Facebook group dedicated to those trying to conceive, currently pregnant, newly postpartum, or parents in general.

Read more in our Doulas of Cincinnati Pregnancy Guide.