Delivering Relief

Preventing and treating pregnancy-related heartburn

Sponsored By: PRILOSEC OTC ®

Delivering Relief

If you suffer from heartburn during pregnancy, don’t despair: You needn’t hunker down in discomfort to wait out the 40 weeks. There are things you can do to cool your symptoms, and at the top of the list is prevention. While it’s not always possible to eliminate heartburn entirely, some smart moves can help you steer clear of the worst of it. Here’s what to do.

Avoid trigger foods. Some known heartburn triggers include caffeine; soda and other carbonated drinks; citrus fruits; chocolate; peppermint; tomato sauce; spicy foods; and greasy, fatty meals. Skip these choices as much as possible—particularly if you can trace a heartburn episode to, say, having just consumed that bowl of five-alarm chili.

Eat smaller meals. The fuller your stomach is, the more likely it’ll push stomach acids back up. Eating smaller, more frequent meals may be smarter than sticking to three big ones.

Stay upright after eating. Make gravity work for you—not against you. A horizontal position encourages reflux, so if possible, stop eating about three hours before you plan to go to sleep.

Prop yourself up. When you do go to bed, try elevating your upper body on pillows or raising the head of your bed by several inches.

Ditch bad habits. If you drink or smoke at all, stop—alcohol and tobacco are not only common heartburn triggers but also harmful to your baby.

Chew sugarless gum. The act of chewing pumps up saliva production, which in turn can reduce acid levels in the esophagus.

Treatment Options

Did everything you could and still have heartburn? While treatment options are somewhat narrower for pregnant women, some drugs are considered safe for use in pregnancy. Always check with your doctor before taking any medication, even over-the-counter (OTC) remedies. Here are some treatment options.

OTC pharmaceuticals. Drugstore antacids can ease symptoms when taken after meals by neutralizing stomach acids in the short term. But be careful when choosing antacids, sticking to those that contain aluminum, calcium or magnesium. Avoid any remedy containing sodium bicarbonate, which can lead to potentially dangerous fluid buildup for you and your baby.

Prescription medications. If OTC remedies haven’t helped, talk to your doctor about prescription options. The next step is usually a histamine type 2 (H2) receptor antagonist, which blocks the production of some stomach acid. This type of drug is believed to be safe and effective for pregnant women and their babies. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), such as Prilosec OTC®, are another type of heartburn medication believed to be safe for pregnant women for whom other options have not worked. Like H2s, they block stomach acid production, but more powerfully and for longer periods.

The material in this site is intended to be of general informational use and is not intended to constitute medical advice, probable diagnosis or recommended treatments. OTC PPIs are only indicated for treatment of frequent heartburn. For severe heartburn or heartburn that persists after trying over-the-counter treatment or lifestyle modifications, visit your doctor to determine the right treatment for you. See the Terms and Conditions for more information.