Nine out of 10 pregnant patients develop symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) by their third trimester. Heartburn is usually the main problem. But for some patients, GERD during pregnancy can be so intense that it causes nausea and vomiting.

If GERD is interrupting the joy you should be experiencing during your pregnancy, GERD experts at the University of Chicago Medicine can work with your OB/GYN to help you find relief from these uncomfortable symptoms. We can recommend medications that are safe for your baby as well as lifestyle changes to reduce your heartburn and discomfort.

If your symptoms continue after your pregnancy, our team is ready to help you find the right treatments that can provide more lasting relief.

Why is GERD common during pregnancy?

Increased hormone levels during pregnancy can affect muscles in the digestive system and raise the likelihood of acid reflux. A growing baby also places pressure on the stomach, which can make GERD symptoms worse. Some medications taken during pregnancy, such as those for nausea, also may play a role.

Can GERD affect my pregnancy?

Although GERD symptoms can make you uncomfortable, they aren’t likely to affect the outcomes of your pregnancy.

When do GERD symptoms typically appear during pregnancy?

Many pregnant patients will have heartburn and possibly other GERD symptoms as early as their first trimester. For others, the symptoms first appear during their second or third trimester as their baby grows and puts more pressure on their stomach.

Will GERD get worse during the second or third trimester?

For some pregnant patients, GERD symptoms like heartburn often get worse during the second and third trimesters. For others, these symptoms may appear for the first time.

Your OB/GYN can help you manage heartburn at every stage of your pregnancy and refer you to a GERD specialist if needed.

I had GERD before becoming pregnant. Will my GERD get worse during pregnancy?

If you had GERD before you became pregnant, your symptoms may get worse during pregnancy. That’s why we recommend that you see a GERD specialist before you become pregnant, if possible. We can suggest several ways to help you get your GERD under control, so you are less likely to have severe heartburn and other uncomfortable symptoms during your pregnancy.

GERD Treatments During Pregnancy

Are GERD drugs safe to take during pregnancy?

Before taking any medication during your pregnancy, it is important to check with your OB/GYN. But in general, over-the-counter medications like antacids and drugs that reduce stomach acid (such as H2 blockers like Pepcid or proton pump inhibitors like Prisolec or Prevacid) are considered safe for pregnant patients.

Can GERD medications cause birth defects?

There is no evidence that over-the-counter medications to treat GERD can cause birth defects. But before you take any medication or supplements during your pregnancy, be sure to check with your OB/GYN first.

What other strategies can help reduce GERD during pregnancy?

Adjusting your diet and lifestyle habits can help you ease symptoms of GERD. The following steps can help you beat the burn of GERD:

  • Don’t smoke or drink alcohol.
  • Eat smaller meals and avoid eating late at night.
  • Limit fatty, spicy and acidic foods.
  • Avoid caffeinated and carbonated drinks.

What foods help with acid reflux in pregnancy?

Eating certain foods may help you manage your GERD symptoms during pregnancy. Some good choices include:

  • Yogurt
  • Ginger tea
  • Almonds
  • Pineapple
  • Soups and shakes (which are easy to digest)

You may also find that eating four or five smaller meals throughout the day is better for your GERD than eating three large meals.

How can I reduce GERD at night during pregnancy?

Many pregnant patients have worse GERD symptoms in the evening because lying down makes it easier for stomach acid to travel back up the esophagus. If you suffer from nighttime heartburn and other GERD symptoms, making some minor changes to your lifestyle habits can help:

  • Eat a small dinner, and avoid eating three hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid fatty, spicy and acidic foods.
  • Raise the head of your bed on blocks.

When to See a GERD Specialist

When should I see a doctor for GERD during pregnancy?

Although GERD doesn’t pose risks for your baby, it can be uncomfortable. That’s why it is always a good idea to let your OB/GYN know if you are experiencing new heartburn or other GERD symptoms. Your OB/GYN can recommend over-the-counter medications and other strategies to help you find relief.

If you have severe symptoms or had GERD before becoming pregnant, our gastroenterologists can work with your OB/GYN to monitor your symptoms and come up with a treatment plan that is safe for you and your baby.

Will I need to schedule regular visits with my GERD specialist during pregnancy?

If you were already seeing a gastroenterologist for chronic GERD before you became pregnant, keeping up with your regular visits can help you stay on top of your symptoms. At UChicago Medicine, our GERD specialists can work with your OB/GYN to recommend GERD treatments that are safe for your baby and can help you find relief from your symptoms before, during and after your pregnancy.

Does GERD go away after pregnancy?

Most patients who only have GERD during pregnancy notice that their symptoms go away once they give birth. However, if your symptoms persist, you don’t need to suffer. Our GERD experts at UChicago Medicine can suggest medications that provide temporary relief as well as minimally invasive surgery that offers a more permanent solution to treating GERD.

Request an Appointment

The information you provide will enable us to assist you as efficiently as possible. A representative will contact you within one to two business days to help you schedule an appointment.

You can also make an appointment with our providers by:

Scheduling a virtual video visit to see a provider from the comfort of your home

Requesting an online second opinion from our specialists

To speak to someone directly, please call 1-888-824-0200. If you have symptoms of an urgent nature, please call your doctor or go to the emergency room immediately.


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Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease