Less Pregnancy Heartburn, More Prenatal Nutrition

Don't let heartburn get in the way of nutrition for your baby's optimal development. Here's how to make simple adjustments to ease symptoms while eating well.

Even if you never experienced heartburn before your pregnancy, you might find that certain foods or scenarios trigger it now. Heartburn is common for many women during pregnancy. It may feel like a burning sensation rising up your esophagus to just behind your breastbone. It can also make your mouth taste sour.

Why Pregnancy Makes You Prone to Heartburn

Food travels down the esophagus into the stomach, and there's a valve that connects these two pieces of the GI tract. The job of that valve is to keep food in its place. During pregnancy, however, the hormone progesterone causes the valve to relax, thus food and harsh acids can travel backward up to the esophagus, causing a burning sensation. For many pregnant women, heartburn is especially prevalent in the third trimester, when your growing baby and uterus put pressure on your stomach and intestines.

Heartburn Help During Pregnancy

Fortunately, there are simple things you can do to minimize heartburn symptoms so that you can enjoy eating and stay on track with the best nutrition for your baby's development.

Eat smaller meals more often. Instead of three larger meals each day, aim for five or six minimeals enjoyed at a leisurely eating pace.

Curb heartburn triggers. Common heartburn culprits include fatty or greasy foods, spicy dishes, and coffee and other caffeinated foods and drinks.

Time your fluids. If heartburn bothers you, try drinking fluids between meals, but avoid drinking large amounts with your actual meal.

Stay upright after you eat. Let gravity help your food stay in place by waiting at least an hour before lying down. In fact, taking a walk after eating is a good way to aid your digestion. But if you need to rest, prop a few pillows behind your back to keep yourself more upright.

Keep extra pressure off your abdomen. You can do this by staying within healthy weight guidelines determined by your doctor and passing on too-tight clothing.

Be careful with medications. Check with your doctor before taking any medications, such as over-the-counter antacids. Some contain high levels of sodium, which can result in fluid buildup and swelling.

Remember, heartburn, like a lot of pregnancy-related symptoms, is temporary. A good bit of heartburn can be avoided by simple dietary changes. Staying away from fatty, fried, greasy foods will not only help prevent heartburn, but it's also good prenatal nutrition.