During pregnancy, progesterone acts upon the mother's stomach entrance and relaxes the valve which may stop closing properly. This means that stomach acid can escape more easily.
Later in the pregnancy the growing baby pushes the mother's uterus up against her stomach.
Although anyone can suffer from heartburn, these two effects combined mean that pregnant women are highly susceptible.
About half of all pregnant women complain of heartburn. It gets worse as the pregnancy goes on and the baby grows.
The mother may feel pain or a burning sensation in her chest or up towards her mouth as the stomach acid leaks into her oesophagus. It can be worse at night or after eating food.
Heartburn is also known as acid indigestion or reflux.
Tips to ease heartburn include:
- Eat little and often, maybe have four or five small meals per day
- Reduce tea and coffee intake
- Have your drink after your meal, not at the same time
- Don't rush when eating, take it slowly
- Eat less spicy, less acidic and less fatty foods
- Try chewing gum
- Try drinking milk or eating yoghurt
- Avoid making sudden lunges or bends, and sit up straight
- Take antacids (check with the chemist which ones are safe during pregnancy)
- If you are drinking alcohol and / or smoking, these can trigger heartburn so this is another reason to stop or cut down
- Wear comfortable loose clothing
- Try to sleep propped up with pillows and don't eat anything right before bedtime