Milk Of Magnesia During Pregnancy: Safety, Benefits And Side Effects

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Milk of magnesia or magnesium hydroxide is a laxative that helps prevent constipation, indigestion, and an upset stomach. It is safe to consume milk of magnesia during pregnancy if prescribed by your doctor (1).

It is an osmotic laxative, i.e., it softens the stool by drawing water into the intestines (2). Some expecting mothers may experience pain and discomfort due to gut disturbances when consuming these laxatives. Hence, inform your doctor if you experience any unusual symptoms after consuming milk of magnesia.

Read on to learn about the types, dosage, benefits, safety, side effects, and efficacy of milk of magnesia during pregnancy.

Safety Of Milk Of Magnesia During Pregnancy

The over-the-counter medications are safe for short-term use during pregnancy. However, prolonged use of milk of magnesia during pregnancy may have some side effects.

Seek a doctor’s advice before taking it, and if the constipation symptoms do not improve for three consecutive days of consuming it ((1).

It is advisable not to take milk of magnesia if you have any of the following health issues (1).

  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • On a low-magnesium diet
  • Allergic to magnesium or other constituents of the laxative
  • Blockage in the gastrointestinal tract
  • Fecal impaction
  • Appendicitis

Types And Dosage Of Milk Of Magnesia During Pregnancy

According to Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), you can orally consume the milk of magnesia for constipation, stomach upset, and indigestion (1). The dosage is different in each case, and you should adhere to the dosage as prescribed by the doctor. IOverdosage is not advisable.

The laxative is available in chewable tablets and concentrated liquid forms. The chewable tablet requires chewing before swallowing, and you can take the concentrated form along with milk or water.

There are limited studies on the dosage regime of milk of magnesia consumption during pregnancy. The doctor will suggest you the dosage as per your requirement. The general dosage recommendations include.

  • For constipation: An adult can take 30-45ml (6-8 times in a dosing cup) as a single dose at bedtime.
  • For other digestive issues: An adult can take 5-10ml (1-2 times in a dosing cup) as a single dose. In a day, a maximum of 60ml is suggested.

Benefits Of Taking Milk Of Magnesia During Pregnancy

Milk of magnesia has several health benefits. During pregnancy, it is normal to get magnesium deficiency.

You may take it in case of the following conditions upon doctor’s consultation (2):

  • Heartburn and acid indigestion
  • Chronic constipation
  • Magnesium deficiency
  • Stomach upset
  • Indigestion

Side Effects Of Milk Of Magnesia During Pregnancy

Milk of magnesia may cause the following side effects (1),(3)):

  • Bloating
  • Flatulence
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Stomach and abdominal pain

Complications Of Milk Of Magnesia Consumption During Pregnancy

The milk of magnesia should not be consumed exceeding its dosage regime during pregnancy. An overdose may increase the risks of side effects and associated complications. The following are the complications associated with the regular use of milk of magnesia during pregnancy (3), (4), (5).

  • Magnesium poisoning or hypermagnesemia
  • Those having kidney disease or diabetes may be prone to electrolyte imbalance

Remedies For Constipation During Pregnancy

Constipation can occur during pregnancy in response to hormonal changes. Some  measures that help ease constipation during pregnancy are (6), (7), (8), (9), (10):

  • Diet: Increase fiber intake in your diet by including more vegetables and fruits auch as apple, lentils, and bananas.
  • Fluid intake: Consume lots of water, fruit juice, and rehydration supplements.
  • Physical activity: Walking and having a regular exercise routine could help.
  • Laxatives: Soluble fiber (psyllium) or osmotic agents (milk of magnesia, polyethylene Glycol (PEG), and lactulose) help treat constipation.
  • Medications: The doctor may prescribe medication in case of severe constipation if the benefits outweigh the risks. Tegaserod is an FDA-approved medication in category B type. There are no human trials on the adverse effects of the drug. However, animal trials suggest it might harm the fetus.
  • Biofeedback therapy: Neuromuscular stimulation can help improve bowel movement Training with visual and auditory signals can treat pelvic floor muscle weakness and bowel movements.
  • Enema: Rectal enema might help relieve constipation during pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Don’t forget to stay active. Along with boosting mood, regular physical activity can reduce constipation.

Seeking Doctor’s Advice

After consuming the milk of magnesia, pregnant women may note the following signs of discomfort and seek medical attention.

  • Prolonged loose and watery stool
  • Blood in stool
  • Unable to pass a stool after six to twelve hours of consumption
  • Unable to get relief after consuming the laxative for three consecutive days

Can Milk Of Magnesia Cause Congenital Disabilities?

The FDA does not approve milk of magnesia for consumption during pregnancy. You can only take it under doctor’s advice. It is not known to cause any congenital disability or other risks to the fetus (11).

Milk of magnesia is an over-the-counter laxative drug. It can treat stomach upset and constipation during pregnancy. However, the drug can cause certain complications, and it is advisable to seek a doctor’s advice before taking it.

Key Pointers

  • Milk of magnesia can act as a laxative and is prescribed to relieve problems such as indigestion and stomach upset during pregnancy.
  • Consuming milk of magnesia while pregnant could pose some side effects, such as diarrhea and bloating, and it may not be recommended for women with certain conditions.
  • Seek medical advice and be well-aware of the possible risks of taking milk of magnesia during pregnancy.

References:

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  1. Milk of Magnesia.
    https://www.hpra.ie/img/uploaded/swedocuments/2bfbcde6-b063-4cc9-acea-d80d305c578f.pdf
  2. Treatment of Constipation in Older Adults.
    https://www.aafp.org/afp/2005/1201/p2277.html
  3. Laxatives: OTC Products for Constipation.
    https://familydoctor.org/laxatives-otc-products-for-constipation/
  4. Efficacy and Safety of Traditional Medical Therapies for Chronic Constipation: Systematic Review.
    https://www.rima.org/web/medline_pdf/amjgastroenterol_936-71.pdf
  5. Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia.
    https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/4908/smpc#gref
  6. Chronic constipation.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5976340/
  7. The Effect of Probiotic Yogurt on Constipation in Pregnant Women: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5294450/
  8. Interventions for treating constipation in pregnancy.
    https://www.cochrane.org/CD011448/PREG_interventions-treating-constipation-pregnancy
  9. Laxatives
    Stimulant (Enema) (Rectal).
  10. Zelnorm® (tegaserod maleate).
    https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2007/021200s014lbl.pdf
  11. Laxatives.
    https://mothertobaby.org/fact-sheets/laxatives/
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Dr. Neharika Malhotra

(MD)
Dr. Neharika Malhotra is a practicing obstetrician at Malhotra Nursing and Maternity Home and an infertility consultant at Rainbow IVF, Agra. She has more than 12 years of experience in Ob/Gyn.  Dr. Malhotra is an active member of RCOG, FOGSI, and several other institutions and has been the youngest chairperson of FOGSI. In addition, she has published books, articles, chapters... more

Anshuman Mohapatra

Anshuman Mohapatra is a biotechnology scientist with more than six years of research experience in analytical chemistry and biotechnology. He has submitted his Ph.D thesis at the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IIT Guwahati) and served as a research fellow (JRF/SRF) during his Ph.D tenure. His research interest includes analytical chemistry, neurobiology and lipid disorder diseases. Three of his research... more