Heartburn during Your Second Trimester - dummies

Heartburn during Your Second Trimester

By Joanne Stone, Keith Eddleman, Mary Duenwald

Heartburn — the burning sensation you feel when stomach acids rise into your esophagus — is common during pregnancy. Heartburn has two basic causes (neither of which validates the myth that heartburn means your baby will have a lot of hair).

First, the high level of progesterone your body is producing can slow digestion and relax the sphincter muscle between the esophagus and the stomach, which normally prevents the upward movement of stomach acids.

Second, as the uterus grows, it presses upward on the stomach, which can push stomach acids into the esophagus.

[Credit: Kathryn Born, MA]
Credit: Kathryn Born, MA

You may get relief from heartburn by following these suggestions:

  • Eat small, frequent meals rather than large ones.

  • Carry an antacid when you’re away from home.

  • Carry a package of dry crackers to munch on when you feel heartburn. They may neutralize the gas.

  • Avoid spicy, fatty, and greasy foods.

  • Avoid large amounts of soda, caffeine, and coffee.

  • Avoid eating just before bedtime, because heartburn occurs most readily when you lie down. Also, try sleeping with your head elevated on several pillows.

  • If your heartburn becomes intolerable, talk to your doctor about taking a prescription treatment. Many effective heartburn treatments are considered safe for use during pregnancy.

    The use of famotidine (Pepsid), ranitidine (Zantac), and omeprazole (Prilosec/Nexium) in the first trimester has been studied, and researchers found no increased risk for birth defects, preterm labor, or problems with fetal growth. (The first trimester is the period of greatest risk, so medications proven safe for use in the first trimester are presumably safe in the second trimester, too.)