Increased hormone levels of progesterone in pregnancy relax all the smooth muscles in your body. Between your stomach and your food pipe to your throat (oesophagus) you have a sphincter which is made of smooth muscle.

As this relaxes in pregnancy it is common to get heartburn – the acid in your stomach rides back up your food pipe, causing an unpleasant burning sensation. This is made worse by the pressure of your baby on your stomach at the end of pregnancy.

Try these tips if you are experiencing problems in pregnancy:

  • Wear loose-fitting clothes and sit upright after eating
  • Try to drink fluids between meals, rather than with meals
  • Avoid fried, fatty or spicy foods
  • Avoid carbonated (fizzy) drinks
  • Avoid peppermint flavours which may increase heart burn
  • Avoid chewing gum
  • Some foods such as apples, cucumber, peppers and fresh bread can increase symptoms – try to limit them if they make you feel worse
  • Dried papaya may help with symptoms
  • Ginger based drinks may also help symptoms.
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Fiona Boyle is a registered dietitian and nutritionist. She runs a private practice and gives nutrition advice to individuals and families to help meet their health needs and personal goals.

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