If you’ve suffered from heartburn or indigestion in the past then you may have taken an antacid to help relieve the discomfort. But are taking antacids in pregnancy safe? Here’s everything you need to know.
What are antacids and are they safe to take in pregnancy?
Antacids are medicines that help to neutralise the acid in your stomach to help stop heartburn or indigestion. Heartburn is one of the most common complaints during pregnancy, with 80% of women experiencing it at some point throughout their pregnancy journey.
While making changes to your diet and lifestyle can help reduce the causes of heartburn and indigestion, if you struggle to do this the NHS says that your doctor or midwife may recommend you take medication instead, such as an antacid. These are safe to take during pregnancy and will help to relieve your symptoms of heartburn and indigestion.
Some antacids are available over the counter, such as Gaviscon, which again is safe to take during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. However, if you are taking an iron supplement as well then you should never take this at the same time as an antacid, because it will interfere with the iron absorption. An antacid should be taken when you feel the symptoms of heartburn coming on, but your doctor or midwife may recommend taking it before symptoms occur, such as before bed or a meal.
If taking an antacid in pregnancy isn’t helping your symptoms, then your doctor may recommend an alternative medication, which helps reduce the amount of acid in your stomach. The two most common medicines used for this are ranitidine and omeprazole, which are both safe to take during pregnancy and aren’t known to cause any harm to your unborn baby.
Other ways to reduce heartburn and indigestion
Before taking an antacid it’s recommended trying the below to see if they can naturally reduce your symptoms of heartburn or indigestion:
• Eat smaller meals - consuming large amounts of food at a time can cause indigestion, and during pregnancy you’re usually even hungrier! Instead of three large meals a day, eat smaller meals more often and don’t consume any food within three hours of going to bed.
• Eat healthier - again, during pregnancy food cravings are super common and who knows what you may be in the mood for, one moment it could be a chocolate gateau, the next it could be a big bag of salty crisps. The fuller you are, the more likely you are to get heartburn or indigestion. Also avoid spicy and fatty foods, as cutting down on these can ease symptoms.
• Stop smoking - not only can this seriously affect your own and baby’s health, but the chemicals you inhale can also cause indigestion.
• Avoid alcohol - just like smoking, drinking alcohol can harm your baby. It can cause indigestion too, so throughout pregnancy it’s best not to do it at all.