Indigestion, also called heartburn or acid reflux, is common in pregnancy. It can be caused by hormonal changes and the growing baby pressing against your stomach.
You can help ease indigestion and heartburn by making changes to your diet and lifestyle, and there are medicines that are safe to take in pregnancy.
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.
You can get symptoms at any point during your pregnancy, but they are more common from 27 weeks onwards.
Things you can do to help with indigestion and heartburn
Changes to your diet and lifestyle may be enough to control your symptoms, particularly if they are mild.
You're more likely to get indigestion if you're very full.
If you're pregnant, it may be tempting to eat more than you would normally, but this may not be good for you or your baby.
Find out more about a healthy diet in pregnancy and foods to avoid.
Change your eating and drinking habits
You may be able to control your indigestion with changes to your eating habits.
It can help to eat small meals often, rather than larger meals 3 times a day, and to not eat within 3 hours of going to bed at night.
Cutting down on drinks containing caffeine, and foods that are rich, spicy or fatty, can also ease symptoms.
Sit up straight when you eat. This will take the pressure off your stomach. Propping your head and shoulders up when you go to bed can stop stomach acid coming up while you sleep.
Smoking when pregnant can cause indigestion, and can seriously affect the health of you and your unborn baby.
When you smoke, the chemicals you inhale can contribute to your indigestion. These chemicals can cause the ring of muscle at the lower end of your gullet to relax, which allows stomach acid to come back up more easily. This is known as acid reflux.
Smoking also increases the risk of:
your baby being born prematurely (before week 37 of your pregnancy)
your baby being born with a low birthweight
sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), or "cot death"
There's lots of help available to stop smoking. Talk to your midwife or call the NHS Smokefree helpline on 0300 123 1044. Find out more about stopping smoking in pregnancy.
Drinking alcohol can cause indigestion. During pregnancy, it can also lead to long-term harm to the baby. It's safest to not drink alcohol at all in pregnancy.
Find out more about alcohol and pregnancy
When to get medical help
See your midwife or GP if you need help managing your symptoms or if changes to your diet and lifestyle do not work. They may recommend medicine to ease your symptoms.
You should also see your midwife or GP if you have any of the following:
difficulty eating or keeping food down
Your midwife or GP may ask about your symptoms and examine you by pressing gently on different areas of your chest and stomach to see whether it's painful.
If you're taking prescription medicines
Speak to your GP if you're taking medicine for another condition, such as antidepressants, and you think it may be making your indigestion worse. They may be able to prescribe an alternative medicine.
Never stop taking a prescribed medicine unless you're advised to do so by your GP or another qualified healthcare professional who's responsible for your care.
Medicines for indigestion and heartburn
Medicines for indigestion and heartburn during pregnancy include:
antacids – to neutralise the acid in your stomach (some are available over the counter from a pharmacist)
alginates – to relieve indigestion caused by acid reflux by stopping the acid in your stomach coming back up your gullet
You may only need to take antacids and alginates when you start getting symptoms. However, your GP may recommend taking them before symptoms come on – for example, before a meal or before bed.
If you're taking iron supplements as well as antacids, do not take them at the same time. Antacids can stop iron from being absorbed by your body.
If antacids and alginates do not improve your symptoms, your GP may prescribe a medicine to reduce the amount of acid in your stomach. 2 that are widely used in pregnancy and not known to be harmful to an unborn baby are:
ranitidine – a tablet you take twice a day
omeprazole – a tablet you take once a day
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:
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
Video: Eating well on a budget
In this video, a dietitian gives advice on how to eat healthily on a budget.
Media last reviewed: 13 January 2021 Media review due: 13 January 2024
Feeling the burn? Tips to manage heartburn, GERD in pregnancy | Your Pregnancy Matters
What can we help you find?
Refine your search: Find a Doctor Search Conditions & Treatments Find a Location
Appointment New Patient Appointment or Call214-645-8300
Your Pregnancy Matters
July 30, 2019
Your Pregnancy Matters
Robyn Horsager-Boehrer, M. D. Obstetrics and Gynecology
The pregnancy hormone progesterone can increase heartburn, starting in the first trimester.
Heartburn is common in adults – especially during pregnancy. While some research suggests women who have moderate heartburn during pregnancy give birth to babies with fuller heads of hair, having symptoms more than twice a week might be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or recurrent heartburn.
According to a study of 510 pregnant women, approximately 26% have GERD symptoms during the first trimester. The rate jumps to 36% in the second trimester and 51% during the third trimester. That’s substantial compared with the 20% of adults in the U.S. who experience heartburn.
Why the increase in symptoms during pregnancy? Progesterone, a hormone that increases early in pregnancy, relaxes smooth muscle in the body. It helps your uterus stretch to accommodate the growing fetus, but also reduces the reliability of the esophageal sphincter – a ring-like structure that seals off stomach contents from the throat.
Increased pressure placed on the stomach externally from the growing uterus, especially in the third trimester, can also worsen heartburn symptoms such as:
Burning pain in the center of the chest, especially after eating
Sour or bitter taste in the mouth
Sore throat or cough
Thankfully, there are several pregnancy-safe ways to deal with acute heartburn and ongoing cases of GERD.
"Progesterone, a hormone that increases early in pregnancy, also reduces the reliability of the esophageal sphincter, which means that certain foods such as spicy dishes may trigger heartburn symptoms. "
Robyn Horsager-Boehrer, M.D.
Heartburn treatment options during pregnancy
Consider these diet and sleep modifications to relieve or prevent heartburn:
Avoid tobacco and alcohol. These substances worsen the symptoms, and it’s already recommended for all women during pregnancy to avoid smoking, vaping, and drinking alcohol. Need to quit? We offer a free tobacco cessation program.
Shift your eating schedule. Smaller, more frequent meals fill the stomach less and may reduce symptoms. Also, avoid bending over or lying flat after meals to reduce acid reflux.
Prop yourself up in bed. Try sleeping with an extra pillow under your head or a small wedge under your pillow. The incline can help prevent stomach acid from splashing into your lower esophagus.
Skip the sauce or spice. If you notice that certain foods such as tomato sauces or spicy dishes trigger symptoms, avoid them until after the baby comes.
Oral antacids with calcium carbonate have the added benefit of supplementing calcium intake during pregnancy.
Heartburn and GERD symptoms are less severe when there is less acid in the stomach. That said, you need a certain amount of acid to properly digest food. Three types of medication can help create that balance.
Oral antacids like aluminum and magnesium hydroxide (think Maalox or Mylanta) and calcium carbonate (like TUMS) neutralize acid already present in the stomach. Calcium carbonate has the added benefit of supplementing calcium intake during pregnancy. It’s safe to follow the directions on the package – there’s no need to change the dosage or schedule due to pregnancy.
On the flip side, two types of medications actually reduce acid production before it can enter the stomach.
h3-receptor antagonists (h3-blockers) reduce h3 histamine, which stimulates cells in the stomach to produce acid. Thus, less stomach acid is produced. Examples include ranitidine (Zantac), cimetidine (Tagamet HB), and famotidine (Pepcid). All of these are available over the counter and in generic forms.
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) block an enzyme in stomach cells that’s needed to produce acid. These drugs are available over the counter but can take several days to provide maximum relief, so you might consider trying an antacid or h3 blocker first. Examples of PPIs include lansoprazole (Prevacid) and omeprazole (Prilosec), as well as generic versions. Both brand name and generic are considered safe during pregnancy.
Please note, because stomach acid is necessary for iron absorption, h3 blockers and PPIs can decrease the effectiveness of iron supplements. Talk to your doctor if this might be an issue for you.
Related reading: 4 common pregnancy-related GI issues
When to call the doctor
If heartburn symptoms are associated with headaches or swelling of the hands and face, talk with your provider before trying these remedies, especially if the symptoms are new and present in the last trimester of pregnancy.
Heartburn-like pain can be a symptom of preeclampsia, or dangerously high blood pressure during pregnancy. Preeclampsia puts mothers and babies at risk, and further evaluation may be necessary.
As mentioned, heartburn is very common in pregnancy. If your symptoms don’t resolve with diet changes or medication, let your provider know so you can find an effective treatment.
Tired of feeling the burn? Call 214-645-8300 or request an appointment online.
More in: Your Pregnancy Matters
Prevention; Your Pregnancy Matters
Robyn Horsager-Boehrer, M. D.
October 4, 2022
Mental Health; Your Pregnancy Matters
Meitra Doty, M.D.
September 27, 2022
Your Pregnancy Matters
Robyn Horsager-Boehrer, M. D.
September 20, 2022
Men's Health; Women's Health; Your Pregnancy Matters
Why pulls the stomach in the early stages of pregnancy?
Why does the stomach pull in the early stages of pregnancy? This question often worries expectant mothers, and at times leads to panic. When is discomfort pathology, and when is it normal?
Pregnancy is a special time for a mother and her baby. After all, the connection between them is inextricable, and every negative influence or stress affects both of them.
Possible causes of pain
Every woman dreams of having an easy pregnancy and no cause for alarm. However, a very common complaint among pregnant women is pain in the lower abdomen of a pulling or aching nature.
Complaints are so common that it is necessary to clearly understand when pulling sensations during pregnancy are pathological and require immediate medical attention, and when they are completely physiological and require only general recommendations.
Of course, pain in the lower abdomen can appear at any stage of pregnancy, however, most often women notice their appearance in the early stages of pregnancy.
Painful sensations in the abdomen during pregnancy are very diverse both in subjective sensations and in their localization, in intensity of occurrence. Pain can appear both at rest and after any physical activity. Unpleasant sensations can manifest themselves in one place, or radiate to other areas.
Unpleasant sensations in the lower abdomen are rarely avoided during pregnancy. These sensations can occur not only in pathology. During pregnancy, the uterus increases in size, there is a tension in its ligaments and muscles. In addition, there is a displacement of the pelvic organs. All this leads to the appearance of pulling or aching sensations in the abdomen. All these phenomena are manifestations of physiological changes that occur to a woman during pregnancy.
Of course, this state of fear does not cause and does not require any intervention on the part of the doctor. However, pulling pains in the lower abdomen are not always a physiological process. It happens that this indicates that the pregnancy proceeds with pathology and requires medical adjustment.
That is why, if there are pulling or aching pains in the lower abdomen, it is necessary to contact an obstetrician-gynecologist in order to accurately determine the cause of the pain.
Never self-medicate. Remember that you are responsible not only for yourself, but also for the little man that you carry under your heart.
Abdominal pain during pregnancy may be:
Pain associated with pregnancy may be developmental:
physiological changes during pregnancy;
Pain not associated with pregnancy may occur with:
pathologies of the digestive system;
diseases of other organs or systems.
Pain in the lower abdomen during pregnancy as a variant of the norm
Not all pain in the lower abdomen during pregnancy is a manifestation of pathology. Sometimes they can occur during the normal course of pregnancy.
As a physiological process, pain in the lower abdomen can occur in the following situations:
sign of pregnancy;
displacement of the pelvic organs by the growing uterus;
stretching of the ligaments and muscles associated with the growth of the uterus.
Abdominal pain is a sign of pregnancy
Finding out that you are pregnant is now not a big deal, because there are pregnancy tests. In addition, a delay in menstruation can serve as evidence of pregnancy.
All this is good when menstruation is regular and delayed by at least 14 days. In this case, the pregnancy test may be positive. However, do not forget that not all tests are highly accurate, so it can show two cherished strips much later than we would like.
Therefore, it is necessary to pay close attention to the sensations of your body, because it signals the onset of pregnancy long before the manifestation of a delay in menstruation.
If you assume that pregnancy is possible, then listen carefully to your body: it can send you a signal in the form of pulling pains in the lower abdomen. At the same time, the pains will differ in their intensity: one woman will say that the pains are unbearable, the other will not notice them at all. Each woman is individual.
If each menstruation is preceded by unpleasant pain in the lower abdomen or lower back, you may not understand that once again they are associated with the onset of pregnancy.
Pain in the lower abdomen during pregnancy may be associated with the implantation process. To do this, you need to remember the process of fertilization of the egg by the sperm. After their fusion in the fallopian tubes, the fertilized egg enters the uterus under the action of the movement of cilia in the fallopian tubes. The uterine endometrium is a loose mass where a fertilized egg is implanted.
The process of implantation is the insertion of a fertilized egg into the endometrium of the uterus. At this time, there is a violation of the integrity of the endometrium, which may be accompanied by unpleasant sensations in the lower abdomen. In addition, sometimes slight dark bloody discharge may appear from the genital tract, which can be perceived as the beginning of another menstruation.
A fairly common cause of pain in the lower abdomen is a threatened miscarriage. This condition is individual and does not depend on physical exertion or complete rest, but on the condition of the woman and her unborn child.
Among the reasons that may cause a miscarriage may be:
severe physical exertion;
malnutrition of the ovum;
genetic disorders and other causes.
Of course, this is not evidence that a miscarriage will not occur with complete rest. Miscarriage can occur due to genetic abnormalities, and due to stress. No woman is immune from the threat of pregnancy loss.
That is why attention and sensitivity to the state of your body is so necessary, which will in every possible way send signals that the pregnancy is not going the way you want.
Threatened miscarriage is accompanied by:
aching or pulling pains in the lower abdomen;
aching or drawing pains in the small of the back or sacrum.
bloody discharge from the genital tract.
If you have pain in the lower abdomen, you need to see a doctor, because a threatened miscarriage, if medical assistance is not provided, can turn into an abortion that has begun, the treatment of which is much more difficult, if not completely useless.
An ambulance should be called if:
pain in the lower abdomen gets worse;
pains begin to radiate to other areas;
painful sensations do not go away for a long time;
bloody discharge from the genital tract appeared.
If the pulling pains in the lower abdomen are weak, do not increase and do not radiate to other areas, then you can come to the antenatal clinic in the daytime on your own. This will not threaten serious complications of your condition.
If the pain becomes more intense, does not go away at rest, you should not self-medicate, take drugs without a doctor's prescription.
Do not put anything on the stomach. Both hot and cold application can contribute to the onset of a miscarriage. In addition, with the threat of termination of pregnancy, this manipulation will not remove the pain.
When a threatened miscarriage occurs, pain of a pulling or aching nature disturbs the pregnant woman in the lower abdomen.
If the pains have a clear localization in a certain place, most often on the right or left, then a mandatory consultation with a specialist is necessary, since an ectopic pregnancy or surgical pathology, such as appendicitis, may develop.
Bloody discharge from the genital tract
If bloody discharge from the genital tract has joined the pulling pain in the lower abdomen, urgent medical attention is needed. This phenomenon may indicate a miscarriage that has begun.
The discharge may be scanty, spotting or copious, dark or bright. In any case, you can not do without consulting an obstetrician-gynecologist.
There are situations when there is no pain, but there is bloody discharge from the genital tract. This case also requires specialist advice.
Any bloody discharge from the genital tract may indicate a miscarriage. Only timely treatment can contribute to the preservation and prolongation of pregnancy.
In some cases, the appearance of bloody discharge from the genital tract may be a manifestation of a miscarriage, which requires immediate medical attention.
The fertilized egg does not always develop correctly. In some cases, there is a cessation of its division and death. Most often, missed pregnancy occurs due to any mutations. At the same time, the woman does not suspect that the pregnancy has stopped.
However, the dead fetal egg begins to be rejected on its own. At the same time, there are pulling pains in the lower abdomen, which are soon joined by bloody discharge from the genital tract.
When a miscarriage is diagnosed, curettage of the uterine cavity may be indicated. Conservative management is also possible, but this can only be determined by a specialist after consultation.
Ectopic pregnancy most often occurs as a tubal pregnancy, when the fertilized egg does not reach the uterus, and the implantation process occurs in the fallopian tube. At the same time, the development of the fetal egg can continue for a long time without any manifestations, up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. However, most often such a pregnancy is interrupted at 6 to 8 weeks.
The fertilized egg develops and grows, which causes pain in the right or left side of the lower abdomen. The pains are unilateral, are obsessive, tend to increase.
In addition to pain in the lower abdomen, bloody discharge from the genital tract appears, and the pain begins to radiate to the leg from the side of the pain. There may be unpleasant sensations of pressure on the rectum. Medical surgery is the only way to save a woman's life. Preservation of pregnancy is impossible.
"Non-obstetric" causes of pain in the lower abdomen
Among the "non-obstetric" causes of pain in the lower abdomen, the most common are inflammatory processes of the pelvic organs. If earlier it was believed that there could be no inflammation in pregnant women, now it has been proven that a decrease in the immunity of a pregnant woman awakens all pathological processes in her body.
Pain in inflammatory processes of the pelvic organs differ in their intensity. At the same time, they occur in the lower abdomen and most often have a pulling or aching character.
Pathology of the digestive system
Very often, pulling pains in the lower abdomen can occur in a pregnant woman due to problems with the digestive tract. During pregnancy, there is a decrease in intestinal contractility. In addition, there are significant changes in the hormonal background of a woman. Therefore, very often pregnancy is accompanied by constipation and bloating. To normalize digestion, a change in diet is recommended and mild laxatives can be taken.
Of the surgical pathologies that may be accompanied by pulling pains in the lower abdomen during pregnancy, acute appendicitis is the most common.
In the early stages of pregnancy, it is obligatory to differentiate obstetric and gynecological diseases from appendicitis, since it has similar symptoms. There are pains in the lower abdomen, which most often occur in the navel or stomach, and then descend to the right iliac region. Nausea, vomiting, fever joins. The only treatment is surgery. In this case, the pregnancy is preserved.
Diseases of other organs or systems
In addition to obstetric and surgical causes, which can cause pulling pains in the lower abdomen in early pregnancy, other body systems may also be involved in the pathological process. The most common lesion is the urinary tract.
Due to the anatomical features of a woman, cystitis can occur at any time and in any condition, so pregnant women are just as susceptible to it as non-pregnant women.
The bladder, located in the lower third of the abdomen, may give false symptoms of threatened miscarriage.
Cystitis, in addition to pulling or aching pains in the lower abdomen, is accompanied by pain during urination, pain at the end of the act of urination. In addition, with cystitis, the urine may be stained with blood, and it is difficult to distinguish this from bloody discharge during a miscarriage.
In any case, it is necessary to consult an obstetrician-gynecologist, pass a general urine test, and then consult a urologist and treat the infection. Any infection can adversely affect the condition of the fetus, so timely treatment is the key to the normal development of your child.
Make an appointment with a gynecologist
For more details, consult a qualified specialist at the Semeynaya clinic.
To find out prices for a gynecological appointment or other questions, please follow the link below:
Abdominal pain during pregnancy
Abdominal pain in a pregnant woman can be felt for various reasons. In some cases, this is a natural reaction of the body to changes occurring in the body. In some - an alarming symptom that requires urgent medical intervention.
Consider the most common causes of abdominal pain in pregnant women.
The most obvious cause of pulling pains in the abdomen, especially in the later stages. Due to the weight of a growing belly, the body gets tired faster, and even habitual physical activity can cause fatigue, shortness of breath and pain. Naturally, this pain goes away during rest.
If the fetal egg is not fixed in the uterus, but outside it, the pregnancy is called ectopic. After 2-3 weeks, the growing embryo begins to damage the surrounding tissues and organs - for example, a rupture of the fallopian tube often occurs. With this dangerous pathology, a woman's life is in danger, urgent hospitalization and surgical intervention are necessary. Therefore, it is very important to visit the antenatal clinic, where the doctor will determine whether the fetal egg is fixed in the uterus.
As the baby grows in the uterus, the uterus stretches. Most often, a woman does not notice this. But in some cases, the stretching of the uterus is felt and causes pain. Often this happens when the uterus is in hypertonicity. This reason is natural and practically not dangerous.
Compression of the internal organs
A growing baby not only stretches the uterus, but also gains weight. In some positions, the uterus presses on adjacent organs, which also causes pain, especially when the child moves. Sometimes it is enough just to move, change the position of the body, so that the squeezed organ is released and the pain is gone.
Due to changes in metabolism, as well as the weight of a growing belly, the intestines may not be active enough to perform their functions, and the pregnant woman suffers from constipation. A mild laxative will help ease the bowel and relieve pain.
Read in our media center: "What is the luteal phase." Find out why it is so important, what happens to a woman's body during the luteal phase and how it affects the skin.
Not very often - about 1 in 10,000 pregnancies - the weight of the growing belly leads to inflammation of the appendix. Sometimes this inflammation goes away on its own, the woman does not even have time to understand what is the cause of the pain. But if the inflammation progresses, surgery may be needed. As with any inflammatory process, body temperature rises with appendicitis. In combination with the characteristic pains, the temperature gives a clinical picture that will allow the doctor to make a correct diagnosis.
In the third semester, pregnant women often experience rhythmic contractions of the uterus, which can be quite painful. As a rule, they are safe. But if the contractions are strong, frequent and do not stop, you should call an ambulance.
This is an alarming symptom that is fraught with abortion. For various reasons, the placenta begins to exfoliate from the walls of the uterus. This is fraught with metabolic disorders of the fetus and spontaneous abortion. Usually, a woman notices spotting from the vagina. It is recommended to go to the hospital.
Of all the listed causes of abdominal pain, this is one of the most dangerous.