Is it Safe to Take Gaviscon During Pregnancy?
by Tasha Mayberry
While pregnancy happens to be one of the most exciting phases of any woman’s life, it could also be the time that puts you through a lot of challenges, especially physically. Your body starts changing and you begin to develop a lot of symptoms, many of which you may not have experienced before. Among those symptoms, two of the most common ones happen to be heartburn and indigestion.
Heartburn During Pregnancy
Heartburn, or acid reflux, is a widespread issue among pregnant women, and it involves the regurgitation of your acidic stomach content back to your esophagus, which leads to a burning sensation in your chest and throat. Heartburn symptoms tend to be much worse after a meal and also when you lie down.
Causes of Heartburn During Pregnancy
In general, during the process of digestion, the food you eat travels down your esophagus and reaches your stomach via a muscular valve called the sphincter, or lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which opens when food enters your stomach and closes when stomach acids try to come back up, thereby acting as a doorway between your esophagus and stomach. When you experience heartburn, the sphincter relaxes and allows the stomach acid to come back up, which can cause that burning sensation in your chest area, and the acid reflux can sometimes be painful too. When you are pregnant, the hormonal changes taking place in your body cause the sphincter to relax a lot more frequently, leading to your heartburn.
Another reason you might face heartburn or acid reflux during pregnancy is the pressure your stomach experiences from your growing uterus. This especially takes place during the second and third trimesters, when your uterus expands to make room for your growing fetus, and this again can cause your stomach acid to be pushed back up.
Gaviscon for Heartburn
Gaviscon is a reflux suppressant that is widely used to treat heartburn and indigestion. It typically forms a protective layer over your stomach contents, which prevents stomach acids from coming back up into your esophagus. It also contains a substance called antacid, which reduces stomach acidity, thereby reducing pain and discomfort, helping relieve indigestion and heartburn.
Gaviscon is available in both liquid and tablet form and can be found in your local supermarkets and pharmacies. In some areas, you might need a prescription to get the medicine.
Is Gaviscon Safe During Pregnancy?
According to the United Kingdom National Health Service (NHS), Gaviscon can be taken by pregnant and breastfeeding women. However, it is wise to talk to your healthcare provider or doctor before taking it, especially if:
- You have had an allergic reaction to the medicine in the past, or you are not certain if any of the ingredients in it could cause an allergic outbreak.
- You have kidney or heart-related problems.
- Your stomach acid levels are very low.
- You have been advised to follow a low salt diet.
- You are already under medication for something else, in which case you should make sure that the two medicines wouldn’t react with each other.
In general, Gaviscon can be taken up to four times a day, usually after a meal and before going to bed. When you consult with your doctor, he/she will indicate when you should be taking the medicine and the dose, which depends on the type of Gaviscon you are prescribed. If your heartburn or indigestion is only occasional, you can take the medicine only when you need it; if it is constant, you can take the medicine up to four times a day after meals and during bedtime, and know that you don’t necessarily have to have symptoms in this case; however, if you feel uncomfortable and/or in pain even after taking Gaviscon for over a week, you should talk to your doctor.
Is There Any Side Effects to Gaviscon?
Gaviscon is a safe medicine and doesn’t cause any side effects in most individuals who consume it. If you do face a side effect, like vomiting, constipation, feeling sick, diarrhea, etc., it is most likely to be mild and will stop when you stop taking the medicine. Since you are pregnant and most of these side effects seem to be like pregnancy symptoms, you might not be able to differentiate between the two. If in doubt, do not hesitate to contact your doctor or healthcare provider.
Treating Heartburn and Indigestion Without Medication
Since you are pregnant and wish to avoid taking any type of medicine as much as possible, you could try to find relief from heartburn and indigestion by following some of these useful tips:
- Avoid spicy and fatty/oily foods.
- Eat smaller meals several times a day instead of three full meals.
- Stop eating any food that contains acid content, like pickles, citrus fruits, etc.
- Drink milk when you feel heartburn, and add a little honey to your milk.
- Eat slowly and chew properly.
- Finish your dinner at least 3 hours before going to bed.
- Sit upright at least an hour after a meal.
- Try to walk around whenever possible to help with digestion.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing.
- Keep your upper body and head elevated while sleeping.
If your heartburn is so severe that it keeps you from sleeping or wakes you up several times at night, if you are facing other symptoms like weight loss, cough, etc., or if heartburn returns once Gaviscon wears off, you should talk to your doctor to determine the cause.
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