Learn how to manage heartburn and sleeplessness

by Kaiser Permanente |
Pregnant woman with back pain.

By the third trimester, it is common to start having problems with heartburn and to experience trouble sleeping.

Tips for better sleep

Sleep problems result from a number of issues. Your growing belly can make it hard to find a comfortable position. Leg cramps, false labor contractions, and the need to urinate frequently can also interrupt your sleep.

First, try sleeping on your side instead of on your back. Use pillows to support your back, as well as under your belly and between your legs. Some people prefer to use full-body maternity pillows.

You can also get better sleep by:

  • Getting regular exercise during the day, but not right before bed.
  • Having a light snack or glass of milk before bed unless you have heartburn.
  • Practicing relaxation exercises and avoiding screen time right before bedtime.
  • Taking a warm bath or shower before bed.
  • Keeping a regular bedtime and wake up time.

Pregnant people should avoid caffeine, including chocolate, close to bedtime. Be sure not to use sleeping pills or alcohol, which can harm your growing baby.

How to handle heartburn

Heartburn occurs when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. It’s caused by hormones that relax the valve between your stomach and esophagus. It also takes longer for food to move through the gastrointestinal tract, so food stays in your stomach longer and more acid can be produced.

To help prevent heartburn, you should:

  • Avoid spicy, rich, or fried foods.
  • Avoid caffeine.
  • Eat several smaller meals throughout the day.
  • Raise the head of your bed or use pillows to prop yourself up.
  • Sit upright for at least 30 minutes after eating.

You can also ask your clinician about taking antacids for heartburn. If that doesn’t help, a clinician may suggest a prescription medication.

This article has been created by a national group of Kaiser Permanente ob-gyns, certified nurse-midwives, pediatricians, lactation consultants and other specialists who came together to provide you with the best pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and newborn information.

Some of the content is used and adapted with permission of The Permanente Medical Group.