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Antacids are used to curb digestion-related problems, and many women tend to head to the pharmacy to get them in large amounts. Heartburn and other digestion related problems are quite common during pregnancy. So much so that 80 per cent of pregnant women have complained of heartburn at some point in their pregnancy. This happens because the placenta initiates the release of progesterone which slows down digestion. In addition, it also relaxes the connecting valves between the stomach and food pipe leading to acid travelling upwards.
But that’s not all! Babies tend to occupy a lot of space in the abdomen which puts pressure on the internal organs such as the stomach. This can lead to the pushing up of acid from the stomach towards the mouth.
How Do Antacids Work?
The stomach is responsible for breaking up food into digestible substances which can be absorbed by the intestines. However, there are instances where there is an imbalance in the production of stomach acids that can lead to discomfort. Antacids are used to regulate this imbalance and help restore balance in the digestive system.
Is it Safe to Take Antacid While Pregnant
An antacid syrup can help provide instant relief against heartburn and acidity during pregnancy. In fact, syrups are preferred over antacid tablets while pregnant as the syrup variety can readily dissolve and work faster. The majority of antacids that are available are safe to be consumed. However, there are some which can be quite dangerous and even lead to a miscarriage. The key is to have antacids in moderation and get your doctor’s approval.
What if You Consume Too Many Antacids During Pregnancy?
Antacids are made from different substances such as magnesium, calcium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate and aluminium. However, they can have different effects on the body. Anything consumed in excess can be harmful, and antacids are no exception. Some of the problems caused by excessive consumption of antacids include vomiting, anaemia, and kidney stones.
Which Antacids Are Safe For Pregnant Women?
Some safe antacids during pregnancy include:
These are considered to be safe for pregnant women and work well when it comes to tackling indigestion.
2. Calcium Carbonate Based
This set of antacids also are not known to have any adverse side-effects for pregnant women. They are effective when it comes to relief as they work instantly.
Which Antacids are Unsafe for Pregnant Women?
1. Aluminium Based
This type of antacids can cause constipation and do more harm than good in terms of pain relief. In addition, continuous consumption of aluminium is toxic in nature and can lead to issues such as miscarriage.
2. Sodium Bicarbonate Based
The problem with this type of antacid is that leads to water retention which is a feature of sodium. During pregnancy, there are always problems that women face, such as swollen ankles and wrists due to water. The sodium content in this antacid would only compound this problem.
Reasons to Avoid Antacids When Pregnant
While it may be convenient to consume antacids at the slightest feeling of discomfort, here are some reasons why you may want to think twice.
1. Reduces Acid Production
While antacids are supposed to help in regulating the acid production in the stomach, excess use can reduce this, leading to poor digestion.
2. Complications in the Last Trimester
This is one time where it is best to avoid antacids as the body is vulnerable to the slightest side-effects. Even the relatively safe antacids such as magnesium have been known to interfere with contractions.
3. Side Effects
Most antacids are loaded with calcium which has led to the poor absorption of iron in the body. A pregnant woman is already vulnerable to anaemia, and antacids make the situation worse.
5. Kidney Stones
As previously mentioned, most antacids have large amounts of calcium in them. Another negative effect of this is that large amounts of calcium do not get properly absorbed by the body. It then gets passed on to the bladder from the kidney, where they come together and form kidney stones.
6. Alkaline Stomach Acid
Consumption of antacids on a regular basis can lead to stomach acids becoming alkaline in nature. This will reduce the ability of the acids to successfully break-down food for further digestion.
7. Acid Rebound
There can be some instances where the stomach begins to react to the frequent use of antacids. The stomach will increase the production of acids to overcome the neutralising effect of the antacid. As a result, the moment you go without antacids for a few days, you will suffer from severe acidity.
Calcium once again is the big culprit here. Excess calcium causes the intestinal muscles to relax. This can lead to a delay in the processing of food in the body. As the food takes a longer time to reach the rectum, it begins to harden with the passage of time, leading to constipation.
Natural Alternatives To Antacids
So, does that mean antacids are bad? No! of course not! Having them once in a while is fine. However, there are natural antacids for pregnancy, such as bananas and yoghurt, which can be just as helpful as something from the pharmacy. You will need to make changes in your lifestyle that can help avoid acidity in the first place. This include:
- Smaller meals: Avoid having large meals as the stomach needs to produce more acid for it. Small meals mean lesser acids leading to fewer chances of acidity and heartburn.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes: Tight-fitting clothes can press against the abdomen. With the baby pushing on one side and clothes on the other, the acid will push itself up and lead to heartburn.
At the end of the day, you can choose which way you wish to go. While some might try to avoid antacids completely, for others, antacids may actually help in making life easier. If you feel that you are not sure how to go about this, book an appointment with a dietician. They know how food works and can even give you a schedule and chart to minimise the chances of acidity.
Also Read: Essential Oils During Pregnancy