Nexium is a drug used for treating the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease and other ailments where acid from the stomach rises into the esophagus. Acid reflux is a common complaint during pregnancy, but pregnant women shouldn't take Nexium without first consulting their health care provider, as the safety of the drug has yet to be fully established.
Acid Reflux in Pregnancy
Acid reflux occurs during pregnancy for several reasons. Pregnancy hormones loosen the valve at the bottom of the esophagus, allowing acid to escape from the stomach into the food pipe. This is exacerbated as the pregnancy progresses by the expanding uterus, which presses on the stomach, forcing its contents upward.
How Nexium Works
Nexium works by reducing the amount of acid your stomach produces. Its active ingredient is a medicine called esomeprazole, a proton pump inhibitor. Proton pumps are acid-producing cells found on the lining of your stomach. Esomeprazole inhibits these cells so that the amount of acid in your stomach drops.
While there is no evidence that Nexium will harm your unborn child, its safety has yet to be 100 percent proven. For this reason, you and your health care provider will need to look carefully at the balance of risks and benefits in your case. For instance, if your acid reflux is so bad that it is damaging the lining of your esophagus, then you may well want to take Nexium. Breast-feeding women should not take Nexium as it is not currently known whether the drug passes through breast milk.
Before considering Nexium, try other simple, commonsense measures to relieve acid reflux. Dr. Miriam Stoppard in "Conception, Pregnancy and Birth" suggests you eat little and often so as not to overcrowd the stomach. Avoid spicy and fatty foods. Maintain an upright posture -- this extends your chest cavity and can help relieve pressure on your stomach. Go to sleep propped up on pillows, and drink a soothing glass of milk at bedtime.