12.1.3  Heartburn

A burning feeling or pain in the stomach, or between the breasts, is called indigestion or heartburn. Heartburn happens because the growing baby crowds the mother’s stomach and pushes it higher than usual (Figure 12.2). The acids in the mother’s stomach that help digest food are pushed up into her chest, where they cause a burning feeling. Reassure her that this is not dangerous and usually goes away after the birth.

The baby in the womb pushes the woman’s stomach up causing heartburn.
Figure 12.2  Heartburn in pregnancy may be due to the baby crowding the mother’s stomach.


Here are some things a woman can try to make herself feel more comfortable:

  • Keep her stomach less full by eating smaller meals more often, and by eating foods and drinking liquids separately.
  • Avoid eating spicy or greasy foods, drinking coffee, or smoking cigarettes, as all of them can irritate the stomach.
  • Regularly eat papaya or pineapple, which have enzymes (special chemicals) that help the stomach to digest food.
  • Keep her head higher than her stomach when lying down or sleeping. This will keep her stomach acids in her stomach and out of her chest.
  • Calm the acids in the stomach by drinking milk, or taking a low-salt antacid (stomach-calming liquid or tablet) that contains no aspirin, but advise her to try other methods before using drugs like antacids.

12.1.2  Food dislikes and food cravings

12.1.4  Constipation