All about heartburn (heartburn): in pregnancy, symptoms, treatment

If you have ever suffered from a burning in your chest, which seemed to go up to your throat, most likely you had a heartburn condition.

The name is very common among people, but few really know what it stands for.
Studies show that 7% of the world population suffers from it daily, 15% weekly and 50% have monthly intervals.

In Brazil, the incidence of heartburn in the population varies from 7% to 10%.
Check below information about this disease, as well as its symptoms, causes, risk factors and treatments.


What is heartburn

Heartburn is a burning sensation or pain, just above the stomach and up to the throat, caused by reflux of stomach acids.

Usually, it is an occasional condition, due to overeating or heavy meals. That’s because the stomach contains gastric juice to digest food.

When reflux occurs, this stomach content comes into contact with the esophagus, which is unable to cope with the normal acidity of digestive juice.

So that burning sensation can be strong. It is due to the aggression that the tissues suffer.

In general, an occasional treatment, with the use of antacid medications, can alleviate the condition. 

However, in some cases, this sensation remains for several days in a row, and may be associated with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). So the treatment should be more targeted.

What causes heartburn or heartburn?

The burning sensation characteristic of heartburn occurs when the gastric juice produced in the stomach returns to the esophagus. This happens because of a failure of a muscle that connects one organ to the other, the sphincter. 

In its normal functionality, this muscle opens only to allow the passage of a food or liquid, and closes immediately afterwards. 

However, when it relaxes or does not close completely, the acid produced by the stomach to perform digestion can return.

Some factors are considered facilitating factors, as they can trigger increased production of gastric juice and, consequently, cause heartburn. 

Among them, food, drinking and smoking habits, as well as antecedent illnesses.

Risk factors for heartburn

A number of factors can interfere with digestion and the correct activation of the sphincter. Between them:


Some researchers believe that heartburn is caused by poor diet or excessive consumption of certain foods or drinks. Check out what they are:

  • Citrus fruits;
  • Coffee;
  • Fatty foods and fried foods;
  • Condiments and sauces;
  • Peppers and chillies;
  • Vinegar;
  • Soda;
  • Alcoholic beverages.

In addition, eating very heavy, fatty meals or overeating may be factors associated with reflux.

Diseases or changes

Some diseases can be directly or indirectly associated with gastric functioning. This can favor cases of reflux:

  • Diabetes;
  • Obesity ;
  • Scleroderma (connective tissue disease);
  • Zollinger-Ellison syndrome;
  • Hiatus hernia;
  • People with delayed gastric emptying.


Some remedies can affect gastric actions, reducing the production of digestive juices or favoring relaxation of the sphincter. 

Some can also irritate the stomach lining and cause more reflux. Between them:

  • Aspirin;
  • Ibuprofen;
  • Naproxen;
  • Celecoxib.

Remedies for depression, osteoporosis or pressure changes are also associated with the condition.

What are the symptoms of heartburn?

In addition to the burning in the chest, as we have already mentioned, other symptoms can appear when the person has heartburn. It is important to know that not all patients have all symptoms at once, and can vary between:

  • Indigestion;
  • Bitter or acidic taste in the mouth;
  • Ascent of the stomach contents to the throat (reflux);
  • Burping;
  • Cough ;
  • Chest pain .

These symptoms are most intense right after meals and during the night. Chest pains, on the other hand, are more common when the person is lying down or bending over.

Heartburn in pregnancy


Pregnant women are very likely to have heartburn because the placenta produces a hormone called progesterone , which relaxes the muscles of the uterus and also the valve that separates the esophagus from the stomach. 

In addition, as the baby grows, the stomach is compressed, which facilitates the reflux of gastric juice into the esophagus.

If this is the case, it is important to know that you may not completely eliminate heartburn, but it can help to reduce the symptoms caused by it. Check out the tips:

  • Avoid eating fatty foods, fried foods, chocolate, citrus fruits, juices, alcoholic drinks and coffee;
  • Eat fractionally and in small portions;
  • Put a small amount of food in your mouth and chew it well;
  • Do not drink liquids while eating your meal;
  • If you smoke, try to quit;
  • If your heartburn gets worse at night, try not to eat or drink anything three hours before bedtime;
  • Try to sleep in a semi-seated position, so that your head is elevated and the stomach acids are in place;
  • If you use any medication, check that heartburn is not a side effect of it;
  • The antacid can relieve the symptoms of heartburn, but you should first talk to your doctor to see if the measure is recommended.

What are the symptoms of heartburn in pregnancy?

The symptoms of heartburn in pregnancy are quite similar to the condition in non-pregnant women. Burning sensation, pain in the thoracic region (near the ribs), stomach burning and bitter taste in the mouth.

The condition is quite common at this stage, but you must be aware of other symptoms, such as:

  • If your pain was below the ribs, it may mean that it is pre-eclampsia, a dysfunction of the blood vessels;
  • If the pain is on the right side, at the top of your belly, and you also feel sick, it can be a liver problem;
  • Intense and continuous pain (which does not relieve), may indicate a digestive problem or ulcer.

How is the diagnosis made?

The diagnosis is made by a gastroenterologist or general practitioner. Generally, the patient’s report and clinical (physical) examination are enough, pointing out the frequency of symptoms. 

Among the points observed by the professional are:

  • Heartburn occurs more than twice a week;
  • Symptoms persist even with administration of antacids;
  • Burning, pressure, tightness or severe pain in the chest sometimes these symptoms may not be from heartburn, but from heart attack ;
  • Difficulty swallowing;
  • Weight loss due to lack of appetite;
  • Persistent nausea or vomiting;
  • Vomiting with blood or coffee grounds;
  • Black (like tar) or reddish stools;
  • Cough or difficulty breathing
  • Suspected that heartburn is due to the use of some medication.

In most cases, the doctor diagnoses heartburn by clinical examination only. However, when there is a suspicion that the disease is derived from a more serious one, he may prescribe some tests:

  • X-ray of the upper part of the digestive system;
  • Endoscopy ;
  • Scintigraphy;
  • PH monitoring test;
  • Test for monitoring the movement of the esophagus.

What is the treatment of heartburn?

The treatment for heartburn aims to reduce or control the amount of gastric juice that is produced in the stomach. For this, some categories of drugs are indicated:

  • Antacids: help to neutralize the acid produced.
  • Histamine H2 receptor blockers: reduce the production of gastric acid produced.
  • Proton pump inhibitors: block the production of gastric acid and help heal the esophagus.

Among the commercialized drugs, the most common to be used in the treatment of heartburn are:

  • Antidin ;
  • Cimetidine ;
  • Domperidone ;
  • Esomeprazole Magnesio ;
  • Motilium ;
  • Nexium ;
  • Omeprazole .

Remember that self-medication is not appropriate under any circumstances. Consult a doctor you trust before making any decision.


NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained on this site is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

Herbal treatment (homemade): what relieves burning?


Some herbal medicines have functions that help control heartburn symptoms:

  • Espinheira-santa ;
  • Ginger;
  • Purslane;
  • Carrot and potato;
  • Mint leaves;
  • Raspberry leaves;
  • Licorice;
  • Chamomile;
  • Melissa.


If the symptoms of the disease are frequent and also interfere with the person’s routine, the problem is no longer heartburn, but Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.

Thus, the patient may suffer from pain and lose quality of life. The condition can affect food, favoring unregulated nutrition.

How to prevent heartburn

To prevent this disease, you will have to change some of your lifestyle habits. Check out some tips below:

  • Maintain a healthy weight;
  • Have a menu selected;
  • Eat more vegetables and fruits – taking care of citrus fruits;
  • Eat meals at the right times;
  • Do not overdo it when eating;
  • Do not exercise immediately after eating;
  • Do not drink cold milk during a crisis, as the relief is only momentary and, in some cases, heartburn may even get worse;
  • Reduce your soda consumption;
  • Don’t drink coffee right after lunch;
  • Avoid alcohol and cigarettes;
  • Do not drink fluids during meals;
  • Do not lie down or sit down right after meals;
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing or belts in the abdominal area.

Common questions

Can heartburn be a symptom of pregnancy?

So-so. Heartburn can occur during pregnancy. In fact, it is a very common condition due to hormones and belly growth.

However, it is not a symptom of pregnancy.

Is a lot of heartburn and severe pain in pregnancy serious?

It depends. Heartburn is often common during pregnancy. It generally poses no risk to the mother or baby. However, it is important that every symptom is reported to the medical team that accompanies the mother.

When the pain is severe or very severe, it is necessary to investigate the condition so that the correct treatment can be started.

How is heartburn in pregnancy? Causes belching and burning in the throat?

Heartburn in pregnancy is similar to other episodes throughout life. But it is necessary to take into account that each organism reacts in a different way, therefore, the intensity and symptoms may vary.

In general, it is possible for the pregnant woman to feel a burning sensation in her chest and throat, in addition to belching due to reflux.