There are several reasons that explain the high prevalence of heartburn and indigestion in pregnancy. Firstly, some hormones released in pregnancy can relax the muscles that keep stomach acid in control, and furthermore, as your pregnancy advances, your bump will start to put pressure on the oesophagus, further increasing the likelihood of heartburn.
Gaviscon is a common over-the-counter medicine aimed at treating heartburn and indigestion. In this blog, we examine how Gaviscon works, and look at whether it’s safe for you to take Gaviscon during a pregnancy.
Gaviscon is a kind of medicine called a reflux suppressant – used to treat acid reflux and indigestion. Gaviscon contains a number of ingredients that contribute to its effects:
So how does Gaviscon work? The alginic acid forms a protective layer on top of the contents in your stomach, which prevents stomach acid from making its way out of the stomach. The antacid complex of calcium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate work to neutralise stomach acid and reduce discomfort and pain.
Gaviscon goes to work right away after taking it – it’ll start to have a positive effect on reflux and indigestion soon after the first dosage. The positive effects generally last around 4 hours.
Gaviscon is regarded as a safe medicine to take when pregnant and breastfeeding. To date, several studies have been carried out which have indicated no significant adverse effects to the health of the foetus or newborn from taking Gaviscon, either during pregnancy or whilst breastfeeding.
However, it’s strongly recommended that you first speak to your GP before taking Gaviscon if you are pregnant. The National Institute of Healthcare Excellence (NICE) does not recommend taking medicines that contain sodium bicarbonate during a pregnancy. Most Gaviscon products do contain this ingredient, with the exception of Gaviscon Advance.
If you suffer from indigestion, heartburn, and acid reflux, it’s still recommended that you try a few lifestyle measures first, before taking medicine. You can try:
If you're wondering whether you can take other medications during your pregnancy, check out our other articles: Can I take ibuprofen while pregnant? and Can I take co-codamol while pregnant?
If you’ve noticed that your baby has issues with acid reflux or indigestion, it’s best to speak to your doctor as soon as possible. It’s advisable to only give Gaviscon to your baby if it’s recommended by a doctor.
To learn more about Gaviscon, please refer to the NHS: Gaviscon (Alginic Acid).
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