Many women experience heartburn for the first time while they are pregnant. It's not uncommon, but it is uncomfortable. What should you know about coping with heartburn during pregnancy?
First, the reason that women who have never had problems with heartburn may experience it during pregancy is easy. One of the hormones produced by the placenta slows down the contractions in the esophagus and relaxes the muscles between the stomach and esophagus - meaning that stomach acids either escape into the esophagus or get pushed there by the crowding baby.
Although they probably won't cure the problem completely, there are a few things you can do to minimize your discomfort.

  1. Avoid those foods and habits that usually cause heartburn (even if they haven't triggered it in you before). Alcohol (as if you need another reason to avoid it while you're pregnant), caffeine, chocolate, citrus fruit, tomatoes, mustard, other acidic foods, spicy or fried foods, etc.
  2. Instead of eating big meals (eating for 2!) eat multiple small meals throughout the day. That way, foods have more time to digest slowly and stay down.
  3. Don't gulp down your liquids during meals. It's important to get enough water, but too many liquids while your stomach tries to digest will hinder the digestion process.
  4. Avoid eating too close to bedtime - give yourself 2-3 hours before you give gravity extra leverage for letting acid into your esophagus.
  5. Wear loose and comfortable clothing. Trying to fit into those jeans just a little longer will probably make your heartburn worse.
  6. Try taking otc acid reducers, but talk to your doctor about it so you make sure to avoid brands that might contain aspirin or be high in sodium. Chewable, calcium carbonate antacids are probably your best first bet.
Your doctor may have other suggestions about what you can do to reduce your heartburn during pregnancy. You have enough discomfort to worry about - find ways to make this part easier.