Managing Heartburn During Pregnancy

Pregnant Woman Eating on Couch Managing heartburn with nutrition

Heartburn can hit you at any time of the day, while eating any snack or meal, and throughout all three trimesters of pregnancy. But there is usually a common cause in each person. Finding that common cause can better help you with managing heartburn during pregnancy. 

Heartburn is one of the many common symptoms of pregnancy and affects up to 80% of pregnant women by the third trimester (1)!! It may be a relief to know that you are not alone in this pregnancy symptom, but that does not make it any less annoying and inconvenient. Keep reading on to learn more about managing heartburn during pregnancy.


What Causes Heartburn During Pregnancy?

Heartburn is the burning sensation you feel in your chest when the acid from your stomach comes back up (2). Heartburn is common throughout all stages of life, but during pregnancy heartburn can be caused by the changes in your hormone levels, the moving and shifting of organs, and an increase in stomach acidity (3). 

Most pregnant women begin to experience heartburn in the first and second trimester, and as pregnancy continues, the symptoms of heartburn usually get worse (1). Paying attention to your individual experience of heartburn, and what you were doing before the heartburn began, are important to remember and pay attention too if you want to better manage your heartburn.


How Can I Manage Heartburn During Pregnancy? 

Managing heartburn during pregnancy begins with making lifestyle changes. This may include not eating late at night or trying to eat less foods that are deep-fried, especially at the same time.

Heartburn is usually worse at bedtime, when you eat certain foods (for example: spicy foods or deep-fried foods), or when you eat large meals (1). If you find yourself experiencing heartburn during or after any one of these, changing these habits can be helpful. These changes may include eating smaller meals throughout the day, avoiding the foods that causing heartburn, and avoiding eating late at night. (click here for snack ideas during pregnancy)

Other changes that can be helpful include wearing loose fitting clothing around your stomach (this may already be obvious as your baby continues to grow) and elevating the head of your bed 6-8 inches when sleeping (3). This is not to say that you need to avoid all of these habits around food and mealtimes, but it is important to be mindful of when you experience heartburn and the changes you may need to make. 

Foods and drinks to be mindful of if experiencing heartburn (3):

    • Caffeinated beverages such as pop, tea, and coffee 
    • Deep-fried foods
    • High fat foods including desserts, meats, and dairy products 
    • Acidic foods such as lemon and grapefruit, and tomato products such as soups and sauces
    • Peppermint
    • Chocolate
    • Spicy foods
    • Onion
    • Garlic 

If the symptoms of heartburn do not go away after making these changes, or if you have any other concerns about your experience of heartburn, talk to your Dietitian and Doctor about other ways to relieve heartburn during pregnancy.


Final Notes from The Nest

What causes heartburn in each person is different, and this remains true throughout pregnancy. The foods you need to avoid and lifestyle factors you need to change to relieve your feelings of heartburn are not going to be the same as the next pregnant person. Try some of the recommended changes, and talk with your Dietitian about your individual needs when it comes to managing heartburn during pregnancy.

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    1. Thélin, C. S., & Richter, J. E. (2020). Review article: the management of heartburn during pregnancy and lactation. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics51(4), 421–434.
    2. UnluckFood [Internet]. Canada: Dietitians of Canada; c2021 [updated 2021 June 14; cited 2021 June 29]. Managing your hearburn; [about 2 screens]. Available from
    3. Gomes, C. F. (n.d.). Gastrointestinal diseases during pregnancy: what does the gastroenterologist need to know? Annals of Gastroenterology : Quarterly Publication of the Hellenic Society of Gastroenterology.31(4), 385–394.