Women and health

Heartburn in Pregnancy

A HEARTBURN is Known as gastrointestinal reflux disease in medical circles and is a common symptom experienced during pregnancy.

This is normally felt as a burning pain in the centre of the chest.

It is caused by regurgitation of gastric juice from the stomach to the esophagus.

Gastric juice normally contains hydrochloric acid which is responsible for the burning felt in the chest

A heartburn is commoner in pregnancy due to the following reasons;

  1. An increase in abdominal pressure caused by the pregnant uterus
  2. Relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter- that normally serves as a barrier between the stomach and the esophagus

IT IS NOT BECAUSE- your unborn child has lots of hair!


The goal is to reduce symptoms and increase comfort via;


  1. Elevate head –use extra pillows
  2. Avoid bending or stooping positions
  3. Eat small frequent meals as opposed to one large meal
  4. Avoid eating within three hours of sleeping
  5. Do not lie down immediately after eating
  6. Avoid sour foods at all costs – this may be hard if you are craving sour fruits, sour milk or sour porridge. Most of the time, the craving will be too much to ignore!
  7. Avoid spiced foods if you can- pili pili will make it once


These should be used if lifestyle modification doesn’t relieve symptoms;

Before taking any drug during pregnancy, you must remember to ask yourself what effect it has on your child.

To avoid any harm to your unborn child, avoid self medication at all costs

  1. Antacids and sucralfate are safe in pregnancy (remember to get an obstetrician to prescribe)
  2. Histamine 2 blockers cimetidine, ranitidine


There are women who lick ash, and those who eat toothpaste- it is best to abstain from such practices no matter how better you feel after ingesting tooth paste.

You can never know what tooth paste will do to your unborn child!

The outcome for pregnant patients with GERD is good, but the condition tend to recur in future pregnancies


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