Both heartburn and indigestion often appear during the second trimester of pregnancy and can get worse as your belly grows. Find out what causes it and how to feel better.

By the editors of Parents magazine

What causes heartburn in pregnancy?

That burning sensation in your throat and chest has nothing to do with your heart and everything to do with your stomach. Pregnancy hormones are largely responsible for the heartburn that plagues many expectant moms. The hormones relax the muscles between the stomach and the esophagus, which allows stomach acids to back up and irritate your system. Indigestion is a different problem- it happens when a sluggish stomach (slowed down, again, by those "relaxing" pregnancy hormones) takes too long to empty itself, making you feel gassy, bloated, and overstuffed. Both heartburn and indigestion often appear during the second trimester and can worsen as the growing uterus presses up against the stomach, giving it less room to do its job.

What relieves heartburn in pregnancy?

You need to be careful about how and what you eat. It's better to eat many small meals throughout the day instead of three big ones. Stay away from foods that seem to make the problem worse, like spicy dishes or citrus fruits. Don't lie down right after a meal. Try sleeping in a half-sitting position, propped up by pillows, to allow gravity to work in your favor. If heartburn becomes very bad, your practitioner may suggest an antacid- but don't take one without consulting him or her first. Certain antacids contain a lot of sodium, which can cause problems during pregnancy.

Copyright © 2001 Meredith Corporation.

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