November 01, 2021 6 min read

Your body goes through a lot of changes when you’re pregnant. You’ll get aches and pains. You’ll have weird food cravings. You may have morning sickness and nausea. These are just some of the many changes your body will endure during pregnancy. But something else you might experience is acid reflux.

Acid reflux during pregnancy is quite common. Between 17% and 45% of women will experience heartburn and acid reflux at some point in their pregnancy. Acid reflux can happen at any point, but it’s most common to have acid reflux during pregnancy in the third trimester.

Percentage of women who suffer from acid reflux during pregnancy infographic

Acid reflux is typically caused by hormonal changes and the baby pressing up against your stomach. While having acid reflux during pregnancy isn’t dangerous, it’s definitely annoying to deal with. You’ll feel a burning sensation in your esophagus, and symptoms usually get worse after eating or lying down.

In this blog post, we’ll be discussing acid reflux symptoms and causes and how you can go about treating it. Acid reflux and pregnancy do not mix, so continue reading to learn how you can alleviate your symptoms.

Symptoms

There are various symptoms pregnant women with acid reflux will experience. These symptoms differ for every woman, and whether they experience acid reflux during early pregnancy or later pregnancy. Symptoms will usually occur soon after eating or drinking.

Some of the most common acid reflux symptoms include:

  • Burning or pain in your chest, especially when lying down after eating
  • Feeling bloated or full
  • Frequent burping
  • Generally sick feeling
  • Bringing up food
  • Sour or bitter taste in your mouth
  • Cough or sore throat

Symptoms infographic

Causes

So now that you know common acid reflux symptoms, let’s discuss what causes acid reflux during pregnancy. There are various acid reflux triggers, such as certain foods or sleeping positions. But the causes of acid reflux during pregnancy are a little bit different.

The most common reasons for acid reflux during pregnancy are:

  • Changing hormone levels: Acid reflux during pregnancy is usually due to changing hormone levels. The change in your hormones during pregnancy can affect the muscles of your digestive tract, which can make you react differently to food. These hormones can also slow down your digestive system, meaning your food will move slower and cause heartburn and bloating.
  • Loosened esophageal sphincter:The change in your pregnancy hormones can cause your lower esophageal sphincter to loosen, which means your stomach acid can flow back up into your esophagus.
  • Baby growing: Your growing baby and uterus can also contribute to acid reflux, as they can crowd the abdomen and cause your stomach acids to flow upwards. This is why acid reflux is most common during the third trimester because your uterus and baby are at their biggest size.

Most pregnant women will experience GERD symptoms, specifically acid reflux, at some point. While the symptoms are most common during the third trimester, they can happen at any point. If you experience acid reflux earlier on in your pregnancy, it's likely that the symptoms will worsen in later trimesters.

Some other possible causes of acid reflux could be certain foods, sleeping positions, and stress. Foods that trigger acid reflux include spicy foods, fatty foods, citrus fruits, tomato-based foods, and garlic and onions. Laying down, in general, can also contribute to acid reflux, especially when you lie down shortly after eating. It’s important to let your stomach properly digest before you lie down. Stress or lack of sleep can also cause your body to produce more stomach acid or worsen existing symptoms.

Acid reflux can be a result of a myriad of things, so if you’re experiencing acid reflux during pregnancy, consult with your doctor so that you can figure out the root cause of the issue.

Fortunately, there are various ways you can go about treating acid reflux during pregnancy, which we will discuss below.

Treatment infographic

Treatment

Acid reflux treatment for pregnant women is essentially the same as it would be for others who have acid reflux. Some things you can do to prevent or treat acid reflux during pregnancy include:

  • Diet changes: Changing how and what you eat can seriously help to alleviate acid reflux symptoms. Instead of eating three meals a day, try eating several smaller meals throughout the day. This will reduce your chance of having indigestion that usually occurs when you’re overly full. You should also wait at least 2-3 hours before lying down after eating, as it’s crucial that you let your stomach digest.

Also, eat slowly and avoid spicy foods and other acid reflux triggers. Some foods that can help prevent acid reflux are high fiber foods, watery foods, milk, ginger, and lemon water.

You can also try following the GERD diet, which basically entails avoiding the foods that trigger acid reflux altogether. If you’re not sure what type of food is causing your acid reflux, keep a journal of everything you eat in a day. This will help you identify the culprit so that you can eliminate it from your diet.

  • Try over-the-counter medication:Nonprescription antacids can help relieve acid reflux symptoms, but you should talk to your doctor before taking any. Some antacids can contain aluminum, which isn’t healthy to consume during pregnancy. Your doctor will have a better idea about what is the best medication for you.
  • Sleep on your left side at an incline:The way you sleep can have an impact on how your stomach digests food. So if you suffer from acid reflux, try sleeping on your left side at an incline. Lying on your right side positions your stomach higher than your esophagus, which can lead to heartburn.

If you’re struggling with getting good sleep while pregnant due to acid reflux, check out MedCline’s Reflux Relief System. The MedCline Reflux Relief System offers relief from nighttime acid reflux with a uniquely designed pillow that raises your entire torso and esophagus, reducing your chances of experiencing symptoms. It’s designed so you can sleep comfortably on your left side without worrying about waking up with acid reflux.

  • Prescription medication: For more severe cases of acid reflux, your doctor may suggest taking acid reflux medicationsto reduce symptoms. Prescription medication may include H2 blockers, which block the chemical signals that produce stomach acid, or proton pump inhibitors. Be sure to discuss with your doctor so you can determine what is best for you.

Woman at work suffering from acid reflux

Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean when you have acid reflux during pregnancy?

Acid reflux during pregnancy is fairly common, so if you’re finding yourself experiencing that burning sensation in your throat, don’t panic. Acid reflux during pregnancy just means your body is going through normal hormonal changes that happen when you’re pregnant. These hormonal changes can affect how you digest food and contribute to acid reflux. Acid reflux is also just a normal symptom of your baby growing inside of you.

If you feel like your acid reflux is getting unbearable, consult with your doctor so you can make sure it’s not something more serious.

Why does pregnancy cause acid reflux?

Your body goes through so many changes when you’re pregnant, one of those being your hormones. Your change in hormones can cause your digestive system to slow down, which makes you more susceptible to heartburn and acid reflux. The muscles in your body that push food down into the esophagus also move more slowly when you’re pregnant, which can cause acid reflux.

What stage of pregnancy do you get acid reflux?

You can get acid reflux during any stage of pregnancy, but it’s most common in the second or third trimester. If you do have acid reflux early in pregnancy, it’s likely that your symptoms will get worse with time.

What foods cause acid reflux during pregnancy?

Various foods can cause acid reflux during pregnancy. Some common culprits include chocolate, spicy foods, fatty foods, acidic foods, carbonated drinks, and caffeine. It’s best to avoid these foods throughout your pregnancy, especially if you have acid reflux. Milk, ginger, and lemon water can help to alleviate symptoms.

Pregnant woman taking reflux medication

Wrapping Up

Acid reflux is painful and frustrating for anyone. Now imagine having acid reflux while carrying around a baby in your stomach. Yeah, doesn’t sound too enjoyable.

This is why it’s so important to figure out the proper course of treatment so you can go back to enjoying your eating and sleeping comfortably without feeling like your chest is on fire.

MedCline carries a range of products that may be helpful in alleviating acid reflux symptoms, such as the Reflux Relief System. The Reflux Relief System is the ideal pregnancy pillow to provide comfort and support while sleeping. Getting good sleep while pregnant can be difficult, especially if you’re suffering from acid reflux. Check out MedCline so you can reduce your acid reflux and get a better night’s rest in no time.