Navigate Your Way Around Pregnancy Medications
Its difficult to know what you can and cant take during pregnancy. Not all medications are completely off limits, but there are a few that are questionable. When it comes to antacids and other heartburn relief remedies, you want to watch out for anything that includes aspirin or baking soda. They can be dangerous to your baby.
Natural remedies are by far the best types of medications you can take. They are safe and can be used with each other. If you are still struggling, look for those that give you immediate relief and always follow the directions. However, your doctor will be able to prescribe or recommend longer term options if your heartburn has manifested into GERD due to your pregnancy.
Why Is Gerd Common During Pregnancy
GERD is practically a hallmark of pregnancy because changing hormone levels can affect the smooth muscles of the digestive tract. The hormone progesterone, producedin large amounts by the placenta, is a smooth muscle relaxant, according toHeather Johnson, MD, an OB-GYN at Reiter, Hill and Johnson of Advantia Health in the Washington, D.C. area. The relaxation of muscles in the digestive system also causes the lower esophageal sphincter muscles to relax. This allows stomach acid to more easily make its way into the esophagus. This, combined with the increasing size of the uterus in the second and third trimesters, pushes the stomach upward and intensifies uncomfortable symptoms. Hence, symptoms tend to worsen as the pregnancy progresses, Dr. Johnson notes.
Heartburn Symptoms And Pre
If your heartburn symptoms don’t go away with medicine, it’s important to see your doctor as it may be a sign of something more serious, such as pre-eclampsia. A pregnant woman with pre-eclampsia usually has high blood pressure and problems with her kidneys. Pre-eclampsia could also seriously affect a woman’s liver, blood and brain. Any pregnant woman can experience pre-eclampsia â almost 1 in 20 Australian women will develop it.
Because pre-eclampsia is dangerous for both you and your baby, you should let your doctor know if your heartburn medicine is not working. This is especially important if you’re also feeling very unwell or you have:
- sudden swelling of your hands, feet or face
- a headache that doesn’t go away with simple painkillers
- problems with your eyesight such as blurring or seeing flashing lights or dots
- a strong pain below your ribs
Find out more about how pre-eclampsia is treated here.
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Its Really Commonand Can Happen At Any Point During Pregnancy
Anecdotally, its something probably all of my patients experience at some point during pregnancy, Dana Elborno, MD, ob-gyn at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, tells SELF. Interestingly, she says that heartburn may actually contribute to a lot of the nausea many people feel in the beginning of pregnancy. One of the reasons nausea is poorly treated is that there is a component of it that is reflux that is undertreated, she says.
The main reason that everything you consume comes back up to your throat is because of those good ol pregnancy hormones coursing through your body. When youre pregnant, your body produces more progesterone and relaxin, which are two hormones that have a relaxing effect on smooth muscle in the body, Dr. Elborno says. This causes the muscles in the digestive tract to loosen, slowing digestion and increasing bloating and heartburn.
It also affects the esophagus. The esophageal sphincter is a smooth muscle that plays a role in keeping acid in your stomach, Dr. Elborno says. Its at the bottom of the esophagus and works kind of like a flap that opens to let food down and then closes so that stomach acid doesnt come back up as its churning away to digest the food you just ate. The muscle is supposed to do that job, but with the effects of hormones in pregnancy that are relaxing all of your smooth muscle, it becomes less effective, Dr. Elborno explains.
Can You Take Tums While Pregnant
Yes, Tums are safe to take during pregnancy. In fact, your first line of defense should probably be these chewable antacids made from calcium carbonate . Fast, portable, and effective, they may be all you need to handle heartburn. They even taste pretty good and double as a calcium supplement.
Antacids containing magnesium hydroxide or magnesium oxide like Maalox, Mylanta, and Rolaids are probably safe when used occasionally at the recommended dosage. But they’re not your best option while pregnant because they also contain aluminum hydroxide. Aluminum can be constipating and, in large doses, toxic.
Bear in mind that swallowing any liquid, even the liquid you need to wash down a tablet, will cause your stomach to do what it does naturally: produce digestive juices including acid, the very thing you’re trying to reduce. So it’s best to swallow or chew tablets with as little liquid as possible when you’re having trouble with heartburn.
All of these antacid medicines work by neutralizing the acid that’s already in your stomach and causing you pain. Chewable and liquid antacids act much more quickly than tablets because they’re already dissolved. You can experiment to see which you prefer and what works most effectively for you.
If you’re regularly taking the recommended dosage and aren’t getting relief from heartburn, talk to your doctor or midwife about whether you can take additional or different medications.
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Heartburn Medicines When Your Are Pregnant
All the medications that you would usually take become questionable when youre pregnant. There are some that thin the blood and others that cause problems for the cell growth and structures of your growing little one.
Now you must think twice about what to take and what to avoid regarding heartburn medicine. It can be tricky, especially when it comes to the symptoms of pregnancy. You have to put up with pain, sickness, and heartburn medicine.
The good news is that many heartburn medicine and medications are safe during pregnancy. Here are 15 that you can definitely take, with some over the counter options and some herbal remedies to soothe and treat your acid reflux.
You May Want To Consider Medication
All of the above eating modifications can help decrease feelings of heartburn, but even with that, some people will still experience heartburn and need medication, Dr. Paik says. Plus, add in the fact that sometimes you have to eat what you want to eat , and medication may just be a necessity for getting yourself fed and making it through the day.
Dr. Paik recommends starting with Tums or other antacid tablets made with calcium carbonate. They neutralize the stomach acid and are available over-the-counter, so its a pretty easy way of maybe helping with indigestion and heartburn, she says.
But the truth is, lots of pregnant people say that Tums just dont cut it. So if that doesnt give you relief, ask your doctor about what other medication theyd recommend, Dr. Paik says. Antacid tablets didnt work for me. So I eventually asked my doctor if there was anything else I could take.
The other type of medications used for acid reflux are ones that decrease acid production in the stomach, Dr. Elborno explains. The most popular type is a class of antihistamines called h2 blockersspecifically, the medication famotidine is considered to be the safest acid reducer to take during pregnancy. Another category of acid-reducing drugs is proton-pump inhibitors , like omeprazole , which is also considered safe during pregnancy but recommended only if famotidine doesnt help because PPIs have a slightly higher risk of side effects when used long-term.
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Common Uses For Pepcid During Pregnancy
Pepcid is often a go-to OTC drug for those who have heartburn and indigestion during pregnancy.
There are many people who experience acid reflux in pregnancy due to high levels of progesterone and the increasing size of the uterus, says Rachel Gerber, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist and board certified OB-GYN at Reproductive Medicine Associates.
Pregnancy hormones slow down the muscles of the digestive tract, which causes food to move more slowly, leaving you with a sluggish digestive system.
You may also experience indigestion and heartburn when hormones relax the valve that separates the esophagus from the stomach, causing the food and acids to come back up from the stomach to the esophagus. This process is responsible for the burning feeling that comes with heartburn.
When lifestyle and dietary changes dont help relieve heartburn in pregnancy, Ross says you can take Pepcid AC by mouth once or twice a day with or without food. As always, discuss taking any new medication with your doctor during pregnancy.
Heartburn During Pregnancy Remedies
Preventing heartburn is the best way to deal with it! Here are some helpful tips for avoiding heartburn:
- Eat five to six smaller meals throughout the day rather than three large meals
- Wait an hour after eating to lie down
- Avoid spicy, greasy, and fatty foods
If you are experiencing heartburn, there are a few natural ways to relieve the symptoms:
- Eat yogurt or drink a glass of milk
- Try a tablespoon of honey in a glass of warm milk
Over-the-counter antacids may prove helpful in relieving your heartburn, but do not take antacids without speaking to your healthcare provider. Some antacids contain high levels of sodium, which can cause fluid buildup in body tissues. Some also contain aluminum, which is not considered safe for pregnancy.
If your heartburn is severe, your healthcare provider may prescribe medication for you.
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Is It Safe To Use Medications For Acidity During Pregnancy
Many pregnant women suffer from acidity without consulting the doctor as they see it as commonly occurring and consider it as self-limiting. And also they have a strong belief that medications are unsafe for the unborn baby, which is true only to a certain extent. Many medicines are proven to be safe and effective to use under a doctor prescription.
Please do consult your doctor before self-medication especially when you are pregnant. Remember that the below-mentioned medicines are only to build your knowledge and trust.
Prevention Of Heartburn During Pregnancy
Some tips that may help you cut down on heartburn during your pregnancy include:
- Eat several small meals each day instead of three large ones.
- Avoid fried, spicy, or rich foods or any foods that seem to cause relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter and increase the risk of heartburn.
- Donât smoke tobacco or drink alcohol, which can make heartburn symptoms worse.
- Drink less while eating. Drinking large amounts while eating may increase the risk of acid reflux and heartburn.
- Don’t lie down directly after eating.
- Keep the head of your bed higher than the foot of your bed. Or place pillows under your shoulders to help prevent stomach acids from rising into your esophagus.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing. Tight-fitting clothes can increase the pressure on your stomach and abdomen.
- Try to avoid constipation.
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How To Stop Heartburn And Indigestion
Try the following as your first port of call.
- Avoid large meals and eat smaller ones more often about every three hours.
- No midnight feasts. Dont eat late at night or three hours before bedtime.
- Avoid triggers like fatty and spicy foods, chocolate, caffeine and fizzy drinks or fruit juice. Keep a food diary to identify triggers
- Raise the head of your bed by 10 cm to 15 cm, or sleep propped up on lots of pillows.
- Avoid medication that may cause or worsen symptoms, if appropriate. Discuss it with your doctor before stopping any prescribed medications
Pregnancy And Acid Reflux: Why It Happens
Morning sickness and food sensitivities are just two of the most common pregnancy side effects, but it turns out these two arent the only common ones. Heartburn and acid reflux also affect a significant portion of pregnant women.
Heartburn is characterized as the feeling of burning in your chest. Despite its namesake, it has nothing to do with your heart burning heartburn is a symptom of acid and gas flaring up the chest. This is usually triggered by certain foods and eating habits.
On the other hand, acid reflux refers to the backwash of acid contents up the esophagus, leading to an acidic sensation in the throat and mouth. Acid reflux and heartburn go hand in hand in a condition generally known as acid reflux.
Chronic acid reflux is quite common, with 20% of adults in Western cultures being diagnosed with this long-term digestive problem. As for pregnant women, acid reflux can suddenly become a bane due to hormonal and physical changes caused by pregnancy. Most pregnant women stop exhibiting acid reflux symptoms after giving birth.
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Talk To Your Doctor About Alginates
Antacids are the most commonly bought heartburn medicine/ medications, but you can get some that also have alginates. These medications help to line the esophagus to eliminate the pain and discomfort that you feel, giving you immediate relief.
At the same time, they create a barrier over the top of your stomach acid. This foamy barrier stops the acid from getting through, preventing the reason for the heartburn in the first place. Its a long-term option.
If you suffer from bad acid reflux during the night, you will want to discuss these as an option during pregnancy with your doctor. They can give the lining throughout the night to help you sleep and then you stick to immediate or other options during the day.
What Are The Symptoms Of Acidity
Pregnant women also experience the same symptoms but the severity may vary depending on the trimester and from person to person.
Common symptoms that you may experience when you have acidity include:
- Feeling of indigestion
- Acid regurgitating back up the food pipe and into the mouth
- Bad taste in the mouth
Most often pregnant women experience an exacerbation of the symptoms soon after they had food and at bedtime. These symptoms as earlier mentioned may start at any time during pregnancy and may continue to increase.
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What Treatments Are Available For Heartburn In Pregnancy
- Alginates, which form a protective coating over the walls of your stomach and gullet . They tend to be better for preventing reflux .
- Antacids, which neutralise stomach acids. They are more useful for episodes of indigestion . It may help to take an antacid at mealtimes or before bed if you often get night-time indigestion .
Manage Acid Production With Prilosec
This one is debated among doctors, but some do prescribe Prilosec for those who are struggling to manage their heartburn. Instead of balancing out and neutralizing the acid, this medication helps to keep the stomach acid to a minimum. It blocks some of the production.
There are downsides to this. Since there will be less stomach acid, it will be harder for the food to break down in the body. This is already difficult when it comes to pregnancy since there is less space in your abdominal cavity.
You dont get the immediate relief from heartburn with this. Its a long-term option, and TUMS is still recommended for the more immediate effects.
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Opt For A Glass Of Cold Milk
There is nothing better for heartburn during pregnancy than a glass of milk. This is the number one medication prescribed by doctors because it is effective, healthy, and natural. You will likely already have it in the house.
You dont even need to have cows milk. Even soya and almond milk will do the trick. What you want is something thats cold and neutral against the acidic levels in your stomach and esophagus. While balancing the acid, you will get more calcium in your diet to support your growing baby.
Do watch out for the amount of milk you drink. It does have natural sugars and some fats, so you dont want to replace every drink you have with it. Just one glass should be enough for immediate relief. The downside is that it doesnt offer the long-term effects.
Dont add chocolate to your milk to make it taste better. Chocolate is one of the worst offenders for causing heartburn during pregnancy.
Top Medications To Avoid
Before we get into the exact medications to try, lets focus on the ones that you need to avoid. Read the labels to find out if the medications contain:
- Bicarbonate soda/baking soda
These three are effective heartburn medicine for relieving heartburn, but they can put your unborn baby and your health at risk. They think the blood and can make you a higher risk of miscarriage. Bicarbonate soda is high in sodium, which will cause water retention, raise your bodys sodium levels, and cause other health problems.
Reading the labels will also help you look out for not safe for pregnancy, do not use during pregnancy, or suitable for pregnancy labels.
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If You’re Taking Prescription Medicines
Speak to your GP if you’re taking medicine for another condition, such as antidepressants, and you think it may be making your indigestion worse. They may be able to prescribe an alternative medicine.
Never stop taking a prescribed medicine unless you’re advised to do so by your GP or another qualified healthcare professional who’s responsible for your care.
What Treatments Help With Pregnancy Heartburn Relief
Youve cut out chocolate , propped up for sleep, cut out the tomato sauce and peppermint, but the heartburn is still there. So, what now? Whats the best medication to take for heartburn while pregnant?
The next step is to try an over-the-counter antacid like Tums, Maalox, or Gaviscon, says Dr. Ruiz. They work by neutralizing stomach acid8, so even if it does come up, it wont burn. With lifestyle tweaks, an occasional antacid tends to help about 70% of his patients, and its considered a safe, conservative method.
If the issue is still burning strong, thats when you switch over to the next level, he says, which means a low dose of Pepcid, which is part of a class of drugs known as H2 blockers. These work by reducing the amount of stomach acid thats secreted by the glands in the lining of your stomach.9 This is also considered safe to use during pregnancy but its best to try other approaches first if your heartburn is mild, says Dr. Ruiz.
A small percentage of people will still experience problems past this point, and thats when prescription options like proton pump inhibitors might be considered, which block the production of stomach acid, Dr. Gray says. The most common in pregnancy is Protonix, which the Food and Drug Administration has classified10 as a category B drug, meaning its safe to take during pregnancy.
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