Heartburn is common during pregnancy. Pregnancy hormones can make the valve at the entrance to the stomach relax so that it doesn’t close as it should. This lets acidic stomach contents move up into the oesophagus, a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux (GER), or acid reflux. It can get worse later in pregnancy when the growing uterus presses up on the stomach.

Symptoms of indigestion and heartburn

Symptoms of indigestion and heartburn include:

  • a burning sensation or pain in the chest
  • feeling full, heavy or bloated
  • burping or belching
  • feeling or being sick
  • bringing up food 

Symptoms usually come on soon after eating or drinking, but there can sometimes be a delay between eating and developing indigestion.

To help ease heartburn pain:

  • Skip foods and drinks that can make it worse, such as citrus; spicy, fatty (especially fried or greasy) foods; caffeine; and carbonated drinks.
  • Eat several small meals throughout the day.
  • Take your time when eating.
  • Drink liquids between — not during — meals.
  • Avoid eating or drinking for 3 hours before bedtime.
  • Resist the urge to lie down after meals.
  • Raise your head when you sleep.
  • Talk to your doctor about medicines that are safe to take for heartburn during pregnancy.
  • Chew a piece of sugarless gum after meals. The increased saliva may neutralize any acid coming back up into the oesophagus.
  • Eat yogurt or drink a glass of milk to quell symptoms once they start.
  • Drink some honey in chamomile tea or a glass of warm milk.

Causes of indigestion in pregnancy

Symptoms of indigestion come when the acid in your stomach irritates your stomach lining or your gullet. This causes pain and a burning feeling.

When you’re pregnant, you’re more likely to have indigestion because of:

  • hormonal changes
  • the growing baby pressing on your stomach
  • the muscles between your stomach and gullet relaxing, allowing stomach acid to come back up

You may be more likely to get indigestion in pregnancy if:

  • you had indigestion before you were pregnant
  • you’ve been pregnant before
  • you’re in the later stages of pregnancy