Is It Safe To Take Antacids During Pregnancy?

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Pregnancy is commonly accompanied by complaints of heartburn and acidity because of changes in the digestive system. Therefore, women are curious whether it is safe to take an antacid during pregnancy.

The digestive system is affected during pregnancy because of hormonal changes, enhanced blood flow, and the pressure of the growing fetus. Antacids help manage digestion and acidity by restoring the balance of stomach acids.

However, consult a doctor to know about antacid safety, since all of the known ones may not be preferable for pregnant women. Moreover, taking antacids in excess may hamper your maternal health and that of your baby. Therefore, it is advisable to explore natural remedies to relieve your digestive discomforts during pregnancy.

This post elaborates on whether it is safe to take antacids during pregnancy, their functions in the body, their side effects, and some natural alternatives.

In This Article

How Do Antacids Work?

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The stomach generates acids to break down the food into digestible substances that are absorbed by the intestines. But an imbalance in the production of stomach acids could cause heartburn and acidity. Antacids help control the production of excess stomach acids and restore the balance thus giving you relief from sour stomach, indigestion, heartburn, and tummy upset.

They also help treat stomach pain, duodenaliXRefers to the first part of the small intestine that absorbs water and nutrients from food from the stomach ulcers and reduce gas (1).

Is It Safe To Take Antacids During Pregnancy?

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It depends on the type of antacid you take. While some are considered safe, some other medications during pregnancy may not be recommended. Based on the antacid ingredients, the safe ones during pregnancy are:

  • Those containing aluminum salts.
  • Antacids with calcium carbonate (2) and those having magnesium oxide or magnesium hydroxide (3). They neutralize stomach acids and help relieve pain and discomfort.
  • Syrups are preferred to tablets as they quickly dissolve and give instant relief.

In severe cases, your doctor may additionally prescribe acid blockers like proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) or H2 blockers that reduce the acid production in your stomach.

Check with your healthcare provider before taking the medication as some might interfere with other medicines. Also, you should be taking them only occasionally (4).

protip_icon Quick fact
Antacid Pepto bismol contains bismuth salicylate and is not recommended during pregnancy (21).

What Happens If You Take Too Many Antacids During Pregnancy?

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Anything you take in excess is harmful, and so is the case with antacids too. Overconsumption or overuse of antacids can have various effects such as stomach cramps, diarrhea, constipation, a change in bowel movements, vomiting and anemiaiXA condition characterized by reduced levels of red blood cells and hemoglobin during pregnancy .

Unsafe antacids during pregnancy include:

  • Aspirin, which is associated with pregnancy complications such as miscarriage (6)
  • Sodium bicarbonate and sodium citrate; they contain higher levels of sodium, causing water retention (7)

protip_icon Did you know?
High dose and prolonged use of magnesium trisilicate is linked with kidney stones and fetal respiratory distress (22).

Just as any other medicines, antacids should also be used only if they are really necessary because they might have some side effects.

Reasons To Avoid Antacids During Pregnancy

Though not serious or rampant, antacids could lead to the below problems during pregnancy.

  1. Water retention: As mentioned earlier, antacids contain sodium bicarbonate or sodium citrate that retains water in the body. It could lead to swelling of the feet, hands, and ankles. If you already have swelling in the later part of your pregnancy, then this makes the problem worse (7).
  1. Kidney stones: If you take calcium antacids regularly, the excess calcium cannot be absorbed by the body and hence passes into the bladder, causing kidney stones (9).
  1. Food sensitivity or intolerance: When you take antacids, food may not be broken completely and could leave the proteins undigested. This could trigger the immune system and turn the proteins into allergens, leading to food intolerances (10).
  1. Alters iron absorption: Calcium in antacids can interfere with iron absorption (11). Therefore, if you are taking antacids regularly, then you need to take the iron supplements after a gap. If you take both together, it could hinder the absorption of iron and lead to iron deficiency.
  1. Overly alkaline: Constant intake of antacids could make the body tissues alkalineiXA property of a substance that makes its pH basic (greater than 7) and capable of dissolving in water . It provides the ideal environment for the formation of kidney stones.

An antacid is not the only remedy for heartburn and acidity. You may try some safe natural remedies too.

protip_icon Quick fact
Antacids may interfere with levothyroxine (synthetic thyroid hormone) absorption if taken simultaneously (23).

Natural Alternatives To Antacids

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Natural measures could help treat and prevent indigestion and heartburn effectively. Here are some alternatives you may try:

  1. Take probiotics in your diet. The good bacteria will outnumber the harmful bacteria in your gut and aid in digestion (12). Some of the probiotics are:
  • Skimmed milk, yogurt, and soft cheeses
  • Fermented vegetables including sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, and miso (produced from fermented soybeans)
  • Apple cider vinegar (13). Drizzle a few drops over a salad or mix a couple of drops in a glass of water.
  1. Chamomile tea is known to have an anti-inflammatory effect on your stomach and reduce indigestion and heartburn.
  1. You may eat raw ginger or brew tea or add to stir-fries. Its antiemetic properties prevent nausea and vomiting, and also stop acids from getting back into the esophagus.
  1. Slippery elmiXA herb known to alleviate the symptoms of certain health conditions such as acid reflux, stomach ulcers, and skin disorders is also known to treat heartburn.
  1. Other foods that offer relief include herbal teas and almonds (14).

In addition to using natural remedies, you may adapt certain lifestyle modifications and take some care while eating food to maintain a healthy pregnancy diet:

  1. Eat smaller portions at short intervals rather than large meals, and eat slowly.
  1. Avoid foods such as tea, coffee, citrus, chocolate, spicy and fatty foods, that could cause indigestion.
  1. Do not eat just before bedtime. Eat at least two hours before sleep for the food to digest.
  1. Prop your head with extra pillows while lying down. Keeping your head and shoulders higher than your tummy will relieve heartburn.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can antacids cause a miscarriage?

According to experts, antacid consumption in prescribed doses may not adversely affect the fetus (15). However, high doses of antacids containing magnesium trisilicate and bicarbonate could negatively affect fetal health (16). Thus, mothers should consume antacids only after consulting their healthcare provider.

2. How many antacids can I take a day?

The number of antacids you can take per day depends on several factors, such as the severity of your indigestion/heartburn issue, overall health, and antacid preparation. Hence, consult your doctor to know the appropriate dosage for your needs. Sometimes, your doctor may prescribe two to four tablets of Tums (calcium carbonate) every two hours (1) (17).

3. Does milk help relieve acid reflux during pregnancy?

Whether milk can help relieve acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) depends on the milk type. For instance, full-fat milk may aggravate acid reflux due to its high-fat content. On the other hand, low-fat or no-fat milk can temporarily separate the acidic stomach contents from the stomach lining. It provides prompt relief from acid reflux symptoms, such as heartburn (18).

4. What can help me get rid of heartburn at night?

According to experts, elevating your head to around six inches while sleeping can help keep the stomach contents down in the stomach. Ensure you raise your head by elevating that section of your bed and not by stacking up pillows, as the latter can cause neck and back pain. Alternatively, you could sleep on your left side, wherein the stomach contents would lie in the curved part of the stomach, reducing the chances of reflux (19) (20).

You may avoid consuming any OTC drugs, including antacids, for general safe practice without your doctor’s consent. However, excessive consumption of antacids during pregnancy may cause several ill effects. Some natural remedies to prevent acidity during pregnancy are avoiding spicy foods, including a probiotic-rich diet in food, sipping on chamomile tea, etc. In addition, do not hesitate to ask your gynecologist about tips on managing acid reflux, safe antacids, and the prescribed dosage.

Infographic: Can Yoga Help With Acid Reflux During Pregnancy?

Different yoga poses and breathing techniques help maintain optimum digestive system function, reducing the risk of ailments such as acid reflux. However, these should be practiced only under expert supervision to avoid injury. Go through the infographic below to learn about asanas and pranayama that may relieve acid reflux.

yoga poses for acid reflux in pregnancy (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

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Download Infographic in PDF version

Key Pointers

  • Heartburn and acidity are common digestive issues among pregnant women.
  • Antacids limit stomach acid production, which helps prevent acidity and heartburn.
  • The medications can also treat stomach pain, indigestion, and duodenal ulcers.
  • Antacids containing aluminum salts, calcium carbonate, and magnesium oxide are safe during pregnancy.
  • Excessive consumption of antacids may lead to diarrhea, stomach cramps, constipation, vomiting, and anemia.
  • Skimmed milk, yogurt, soft cheeses, fermented vegetables, apple cider vinegar, and chamomile tea are effective remedies for combating acidity.

References

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.

1. Pratiksha Singh and Jamie M. Terrell.; Antacids; StatPearls Publishing (2019)
2. Calcium Carbonate; NIH (2010)
3. Magnesium hydroxide; National Center for Biotechnology Information; NIH
4. Juan C Vazquez; Heartburn in pregnancy; BMJ Clin Evid (2015)
5. Taking antacids; NIH (2010)
6. Aspirin; NIH (2011)
7. Tribhuvan Patel et al.; Antacids: Heart burn OTC drugs; PharmaTutor Magazine
8. Wienbeck M t al.; Effect of antacids on intestinal motility; Z Gastroenterol (1983)
9. Calcium; Linus Pauling Institute | Oregon State University
10. Eva Untersmayr et al.; Antacid medication inhibits digestion of dietary proteins and causes food allergy; The Journal Of Allergy And Clinical Immunology
11. Antacids; Winchester Hospital
12. Sharon Green; Considering probiotics; Women’s Health Research Institute
13. Marcelo Campos; Apple cider vinegar… for heartburn; Harvard Health Publishing (2018)
14. Herbal remedies for heartburn; Harvard Health Publishing
15. Calcium Carbonate; MotherToBaby
16. Ruth Law et al.; Treatment of heartburn and acid reflux associated with nausea and vomiting during pregnancy; NCBI (2010)
17. Medications Safe For Pregnancy; University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System
18. GERD Diet: Foods That Help with Acid Reflux (Heartburn); The Johns Hopkins University
19. Heartburn or heart attack?; American Heart Association
20. Heartburn Keeping You Up at Night?; Canadian Society For Gastrointestinal Research
21. Pregnancy, breastfeeding and fertility while taking Pepto-Bismol; National Health Services, UK

22. Ruth Law et al.;Treatment of heartburn and acid reflux associated with nausea and vomiting during pregnancy; NCBI
23. Hypothyroidism in Pregnancy; American Thyroid Association

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