Indigestion in pregnancy

April 12, 2018

The good news is these issues usually resolve once you have delivered your baby!

During antenatal visits with me many women mention they feel pain or discomfort in their upper abdomen, this is known as ‘dyspepsia’ or more commonly called indigestion or heartburn. If you have indigestion, you may experience a number of symptoms, including:

  • heartburn – a burning sensation that is caused by acid passing from the stomach into the oesophagus
  • regurgitation (food coming back up from the stomach)
  • bloating
  • nausea (feeling sick)
  • vomiting (being sick)

Most people are affected by indigestion from time to time, but women are often affected by it while they are pregnant. As many as 8 out of 10 women experience indigestion at some point during their pregnancy.
As your baby grows, indigestion tends to become more frequent and painful due to your rising levels of hormones and increased pressure on the stomach. These changes can often result in acid reflux, the most common cause of indigestion. Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid flows back up from the stomach into the oesophagus and irritates the lining.

A number of lifestyle changes may help improve the symptoms of indigestion, such as:

  • eating smaller meals and allowing at least 2 hours before bed to digest your food
  • cutting out certain foods that exacerbate the problem (chilli, caffeine, chocolate, etc.)
  • when lying down elevate yourself with a few pillows so that your stomach is lower than your head.

Medicines, such as antacids, that can be taken safely during pregnancy to treat indigestion. I can recommend which ones that are safe to take, or you check with your pharmacist.

Indigestion during pregnancy rarely causes complications. However a new and consistent pain (similar to indigestion) in your upper abdomen that is not relieved by antacids or lifestyle changes, may be a sign that you are developing pre-eclampsia (pregnancy induced high blood pressure). It is important to discuss this with me immediately.


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