Indigestion and Heartburn in Pregnancy

What can I do about my indigestion?

Indigestion and heartburn is due to the reflux of the acid contents of the stomach into the lower oesophagus.

Indigestion and heartburn are very common in pregnancy and can be the first sign that a woman is pregnant.
indigestion
Some women don’t have any problem at all and in other cases the symptoms are quite severe.

It is worst in pregnancy because of hormone changes which result in relaxation of the muscular valve between the oesophagus and stomach and in sluggish digestion in the stomach. As well the stomach is pushed up by the growing uterus in advanced pregnancy.

What can be done?

  • Diet  A more bland diet will be of benefit. Try to avoid spicy rich foods. Avoid chocolate, citrus fruit or juices, coffee and alcohol. Having small frequent meals rather than large meals can also help. Avoid eating within two to three hours of going to bed. Sometimes a milk drink when you retire will help.
  • Medications  Most antacids are safe. Try to avoid antacids with an aluminium base. Mylanta, Mucaine, Gaviscon are the most popular antacids. If more severe Zantac should be considered. Zantac belongs to a group of medicines called H2 Antagonists (also known as H2 Blockers). Instead of just neutralising your excess stomach acid like antacids, H2 antagonists work by preventing your stomach from producing too much acid in the first place. Another medication on prescription is Omeprazole (20mg 1-2/day). Omeprazole belongs to a family of drugs called proton pump inhibitors or PPIs. This type of drug is often used when antacids or H2 blockers fail. PPIs block the secretion of acid from the stomach.
  • Position  Lying flat will often make the situation worse. It is best to stay more upright. If you can. use extra pillows when sleeping at night.
Posted by Dr Gary Sykes on -

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