1. Eat Less, More Often
Overeating exacerbates heartburn, says Rachel Brandeis, M.S., a registered dietitian in Atlanta who specializes in prenatal nutrition. "When you're pregnant, there's less room for your stomach to expand," she explains. Maintaining a sensible diet will not only stave off heartburn in the short term, but throughout your pregnancy as well, because gaining more than the recommended weight puts more pressure on your abdomen, which can trigger the condition. Instead of three meals a day, aim for six mini-meals (See "Meal Plan" below) of no more than 1½ cups of food each, Brandeis recommends. Smaller meals are easier for your body to digest, helping to relieve the symptoms of heartburn during pregnancy.
2. Eliminate Trigger Foods
Identify the foods that intensify your heartburn and banish them from your diet. While there are no universally "banned" foods, common heartburn triggers include acidic foods, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes, greasy or fried foods, spicy foods, chocolate, coffee and carbonated beverages and alcohol (which, as you well know, you should eliminate anyway!).
3. Focus on Fluids
"Liquid-y foods are less likely to cause problems than solids, since they move through the stomach more quickly," Brandeis says. Soups, smoothies, yogurt, milkshakes, protein shakes, and puddings are good choices. Look for liquids that offer plenty of protein, such as milk and drinkable yogurt. and aim to make solids a little less so: "chew solid foods slowly and extremely well, until they're almost liquefied," Brandeis adds. Keep in mind, however, that drinking large quantities of fluids with meals can aggravate heartburn, because drinking can cause you to swallow more air. If you feel thirsty during a meal, take small sips between bites of food.
4. Sleep Smart
To avoid nighttime heartburn during pregnancy, don't eat anything for at least three hours before bedtime. Elevate the head of your bed by placing books under the legs, and if you're not already sleeping on your left side, start now; stomach acids will have to travel uphill to reach the esophagus—no easy feat! Pregnant women also shouldn’t lie down or bend over right after eating.
5. Time for Tums
It's fine to find relief in a bottle of Tums or Rolaids or other calcium-containing antacids. However, "too much calcium can block iron absorption, so don't take Tums at the same time you take your prenatal vitamin," Brandeis advises. Also, avoid antacids that list aluminum (such as aluminum hydroxide or aluminum carbonate) as an ingredient; it can cause constipation and can even be toxic in large doses. Remedies containing aspirin (such as Alka-Seltzer) should also be avoided during pregnancy; look for salicylate or acetylsalicylic acid in ingredients lists. You don't want an antacid containing sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) or sodium citrate, either. Both are high in sodium, which causes water retention.