How Do I Treat Heartburn During Pregnancy
When youre growing a human being, you dont have time for that yucky acid reflux. But your usual go-to methods for treating it may not be safe for your unborn baby.
Instead, here are some of the safest and best ways to get rid of heartburn when youre pregnant:
Does Heartburn During Pregnancy Mean My Baby Will Be Born With Hair
Suffering from severe heartburn? You may want to stock up on baby shampoo. Research has backed up the superstition that, on average, the more heartburn you have during pregnancy, the more likely your baby will be born with a full head of hair.
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When Youâre Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
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How Can Heartburn During Pregnancy Be Prevented
You can take steps to reduce heartburn symptoms without hurting your baby.
- Eat several small meals throughout the day instead of three large ones.
- Eat slowly.
- Drink between your meals, but not with meals.
- Avoid fried, spicy or fatty foods.
- Avoid citrus fruits and juices.
- Limit caffeine.
- Dont smoke and avoid alcohol. Besides causing heartburn, smoking and drinking during pregnancy can cause health problems for the baby.
Other tips to avoid heartburn during pregnancy:
- Sit up straight when you eat.
- Dont eat late at night.
- Dont lie down right after eating.
- Keep the head of your bed higher than the foot of the bed. Or try placing pillows under your shoulders. Doing so helps prevent stomach acids from rising into your chest.
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When To Call Your Doctor
If the heartburn is so severe that it’s interfering with your daily activities, or if you are unable to eat or keep food down because of heartburn, then it’s time to call your doctor. There are a few prescription medications that are classified as Class B – or safe for pregnancy – that your doctor may prescribe for you.
These medicines include Zantac and Tagamet. Your doctor can also check for possible other causes of your heartburn, which can include gallstones. While rare, it’s important to get checked out, just to be on the safe side.
Medical Treatment Of Gerd During Pregnancy
The challenge of treatment during pregnancy is the potential teratogenicity of common antireflux medications. Lifestyle modification is the key for treating mild symptoms. Smaller meals, not eating late at night, elevation of the head of the bed and avoiding foods and mediations causing heartburn usually relieve the mild symptoms seen in early pregnancy. Chewing gum stimulates the salivary glands and can help neutralize acid. Abstinence from alcohol and tobacco are encouraged to reduce reflux symptoms and to avoid fetal exposure to these harmful substances.
For more troubling reflux symptoms, the doctor must discuss with the patient the benefits vs. the risk of drug therapy. Informed consent is appropriate. Nearly all medications are not tested in randomized-controlled studies in pregnant women because of ethical and medicolegal concerns. Most recommendations on drug safety arise from case reports and cohort studies by doctors, pharmaceutical companies or the FDA. Voluntary reporting by the manufacturer’s suffers from unknown duration of follow-up, absence of appropriate controls and possible reporting bias.
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When To Get Medical Help
See your midwife or GP if you need help managing your symptoms or if changes to your diet and lifestyle do not work. They may recommend medicine to ease your symptoms.
You should also see your midwife or GP if you have any of the following:
- difficulty eating or keeping food down
- weight loss
- stomach pains
Your midwife or GP may ask about your symptoms and examine you by pressing gently on different areas of your chest and stomach to see whether it’s painful.
Opt For Tums Over Rolaids
You may be tempted to get Rolaids as thats what youre used to. Cut this out during pregnancy.
The best option is to take TUMS. These digest within the stomach to balance out the stomach acid. However, some pregnant women have said that theyre arent as effective as Pepcid during the third trimester.
TUMS is useful when you need on-the-spot treatment, but Pepcid will last longer. There is also the downside of sugar in TUMS, which should normally be managed but especially during pregnancy to avoid gestational diabetes.
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Mild And Severe Allergies
Mild allergies may respond well to lifestyle measures. If you need some extra help, the following OTC oral antihistamines are generally considered safe:
If your allergies are more severe, your doctor may suggest taking an OTC corticosteroid spray at a low dose along with an oral antihistamine. Options include:
You may also try the following lifestyle changes:
- Avoid going outdoors or opening windows on high pollen days.
- Take off clothing youve been wearing outdoors. Rinse off pollen from skin and hair with a quick shower.
- Wear a mask while completing outdoor chores or enlist the help of someone else for tasks like mowing.
- Rinse nasal passages with saline spray or a neti pot.
Antacids You Shouldnt Take
You should always read the labels and ask your doctor before using OTC medicines, herbs, or home remedies while youre pregnant. Even though it may seem like something should be safe, it isnt always. Some conventional treatments for heartburn that you shouldnt use during pregnancy are:
- Pepto-Bismol or Kaopectate
- Bicarbonate of soda
- Products containing aspirin
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Heartburn Acid Reflux And Gerd During Pregnancy
Its called heartburn, although that burning feeling in your chest has nothing to do with the heart. Uncomfortable and frustrating, it bothers many women, particularly during pregnancy.
The first question you may have is how to make it stop. You may also wonder if treatments are safe for your baby. Learn what causes heartburn during pregnancy and what you can do about it.
When To Call The Doctor
If heartburn symptoms are associated withheadaches or swelling of the hands and face, talk with your provider beforetrying these remedies, especially if the symptoms are new and present in thelast trimester of pregnancy.
Heartburn-like paincan be a symptom of preeclampsia, or dangerously high bloodpressure during pregnancy. Preeclampsia puts mothers and babies at risk, andfurther evaluation may be necessary.
As mentioned,heartburn is very common in pregnancy. If your symptoms dont resolve with dietchanges or medication, let your provider know so you can find an effectivetreatment.
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What Causes Heartburn During Pregnancy
During normal digestion, food travels down the esophagus , through a muscular valve called the lower esophageal sphincter , and into the stomach.
The LES is part of the doorway between your esophagus and your stomach. It opens to allow food through and closes to stop stomach acids from coming back up.
When you have heartburn, or acid reflux, the LES relaxes enough to allow stomach acid to rise up into the esophagus. This can cause pain and burning in the chest area.
During pregnancy, hormone changes can allow the muscles in the esophagus, including the LES, to relax more frequently. The result is that more acids may seep back up, particularly when youre lying down or after youve eaten a large meal.
In addition, as your fetus grows during the second and third trimesters and your uterus expands to accommodate that growth, your stomach is under more pressure. This can also result in food and acid being pushed back up into your esophagus.
Heartburn is a common occurrence for most people at one time or another, but it doesnt necessarily mean youre pregnant. However, if you also experience other symptoms, such as a missed period or nausea, these could be signs that you need to take a pregnancy test.
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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Pain Medications To Avoid
- NSAIDs including aspirin and ibuprofen: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are a category that includes aspirin and ibuprofen. Studies have shown that women who take these drugs are more likely to give birth to babies with heart defects.
- Opioid pain medications such as codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine: Taking these medications is associated with severe birth defects affecting the brain, heart, and intestines, as well as withdrawal symptoms in newborns.
Causes Of Heartburn During Pregnancy
Heartburn in pregnancy may happen because of changing hormone levels, which can affect the muscles of the digestive tract and how your body handles different foods.
Pregnancy hormones can cause your lower esophageal sphincter to relax, allowing stomach acids to flow back up into your esophagus. Also, as your baby grows, your enlarged uterus can crowd the abdomen, pushing stomach acids upward. Although it’s rare, gallstones can also cause heartburn during pregnancy.
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What Heartburn Medicine Is Safe For Pregnancy
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Look Out For Medication With Magnesium Oxide
The heartburn medicines that include magnesium oxide are good for pregnancy. They will increase the amount of magnesium in your system to help limit the production of stomach acid and reduce the flare up of your heartburn.
Look out for those in tablet form and use as little water as possible. When you swallow any type of liquid, you will start the acid production in your stomach. By keeping the water to as little as possible, the tablets can just get to work on your system.
Antacids with magnesium in it will neutralize the acidic effects. It doesnt affect any other part of your body, so your baby isnt going to be affected.
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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.
What Medications Are Safe To Take During Pregnancy
However, it may be best to avoid magnesium during the last trimester of pregnancy. Magnesium could interfere with contractions during labor.
Most doctors recommend avoiding antacids that contain high levels of sodium. These antacids can lead to a buildup of fluid in the tissues.
You should also avoid any antacids that list aluminum on the label, as in aluminum hydroxide or aluminum carbonate. These antacids can lead to constipation.
Finally, stay away from medications like Alka-Seltzer that may contain aspirin.
Ask your doctor for the best option. If you find yourself downing bottles of antacids, your heartburn may have progressed to gastroesophageal acid reflux disease . In that case, you may need a stronger treatment.
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Blood Pressure Medications To Avoid
- ACE inhibitors including Vasotec and Epaned , Prinivil, Zestril, and Qbrelis , and Altace : Have been shown to cause birth defects in all three trimesters of pregnancy.
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers including Diovan and Cozaar : ARBs have been shown to increase the risk of fetal kidney damage or miscarriage.
- Renin inhibitors including Tekturna : Renin inhibitors are associated with severe, catastrophic birth defects. Women taking renin inhibitors should avoid becoming pregnant.
Is Heartburn Harmful
The short answer is: no. Heartburn is typically just another side effect of being pregnant. And the severity of the heartburn can vary from pregnancy to pregnancy. It’s a discomfort more than anything and can be easily treated with over-the-counter medicines. But, if and when heartburn starts to get severe, it could mean something else is going on and you should be checked out.
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What Is Heartburn
Heartburn is when you have a burning feeling in your chest. The uncomfortable sensation can move up your throat. You may also have a bitter or sour taste in the back of your throat.
Though its called heartburn, its not related to your heart. It happens because of acid reflux, which occurs when stomach acid moves from your stomach up to your esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that carries food, liquid and saliva to your stomach.
A muscle called the lower esophageal sphincter sits between the esophagus and stomach. It opens to allow food to pass, then closes so acid doesnt travel back up your esophagus. But if the LES doesnt close properly, the acid can move into your esophagus, causing heartburn.
Can I Take Over
Nonprescription heartburn relievers, such as TumsÂ® or MaaloxÂ®, can help you feel better. But talk to your healthcare provider before taking antacids. They may contain high sodium levels, which can cause you to retain water. Some also have aluminum in them, which isnt safe to consume during pregnancy. Your provider can recommend an antacid thats safe during pregnancy.
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Safe Prescription Allergy Medications
- Singulair : Usage of montelukast during pregnancy for treatment of asthma does not appear to increase the risk of major birth defects.
- Allergy shots : Its considered safe to continue your allergy shots during pregnancy. Let your healthcare providers know that youre pregnant and they will carefully monitor your dosage.