Up to 80 percent of women experience symptoms of indigestion during pregnancy, including heartburn, reports ABC News. Although it’s typically a harmless condition, heartburn can cause extreme discomfort and can linger until your baby is born. Over-the-counter antacids are generally harmless when taken during pregnancy and can quickly ease symptoms. Not all antacids are equal, however. Some contain ingredients that can be harmful to both you and your unborn baby. Talk to your doctor before taking antacids, especially if you have any pregnancy complications.
A Little Background
Heartburn during pregnancy, also referred to as acid reflux or acid indigestion, is typically caused by physical and hormonal changes in the body. The placenta produces the progesterone hormone, which slows down digestion and relaxes the valve that connects the stomach to the esophagus. This allows acid to travel back up into the throat. The growing baby also pushes against your abdomen and forces acid back up into the esophagus. Symptoms of heartburn can include burning in the throat, difficulty swallowing, a salty or acidic taste in the back of the throat and chest pain.
Antacids to Avoid
Although many antacids can help ease heartburn symptoms, some are considered dangerous during pregnancy. Do not take any antacids that list aluminum as an ingredient. Aluminum is toxic when taken in large doses. Avoid any products that contain aspirin, which has been linked to pregnancy complications and even miscarriage. In addition, stay away from sodium bicarbonate and sodium citrate, which are high in sodium and can lead to water retention.
Antacids made from calcium carbonate are considered safe and effective during pregnancy. Antacids that have magnesium oxide or magnesium hydroxide are also safe choices. Both calcium and magnesium-based antacids work by neutralizing the acid in your stomach, which helps reduce pain and discomfort. In severe heartburn cases, your doctor may suggest an H2 blocker, which decreases the amount of acid in your stomach.
Take your antacid before you eat to help prevent heartburn flareups. Besides taking antacids, you should adjust your diet when pregnant to help prevent heartburn. Caffeine, mint, tomatoes and spicy foods are all heartburn triggers and should be avoided. Eat smaller meals throughout the day to give your body time to digest your food. Avoid eating too close to bedtime -- allow at least two hours for your food to digest before you lie down.