Article at a Glance:

  • Many pregnant women experience heartburn and gastrointestinal distress during pregnancy due to hormonal changes.
  • Pregnant women should choose heartburn medications with calcium carbonate or magnesium, but not aluminum due to safety.
  • Tums are considered safe for pregnancy but Alka Seltzer should be avoided if it is a formulation that contains aspirin.
  • Natural ways to address heartburn during pregnancy include eating several hours before bed, avoiding certain foods, having smaller meals and eating more slowly.
  • Yogurt, ginger and water can help reduce heartburn in pregnant women

Can You Take Heartburn Medicine While Pregnant?

Tums and Alka Seltzer are two brand-name, over-the-counter medicines frequently used to treat heartburn. Can you take Tums while pregnant? Can you take Alka Seltzer while pregnant? What should pregnant women know about heartburn and the medicines used to treat it? First and foremost, more than half of all pregnant women say they have symptoms of severe heartburn. Heartburn causes a burning pain in the chest and upper abdomen, and it can be a symptom of what’s called gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. Heartburn seems to be most common during the second and third trimesters. Heartburn is a burning sensation which is caused by contents of the stomach that moves back upward. Severe heartburn can be incredibly uncomfortable and can create complications in severe circumstances. Medical professionals and researchers believe that heartburn is so common during pregnancy because of the changes in hormones that occur. Hormonal changes can affect digestive tract muscles and also food tolerance. It’s also possible that hormones related to pregnancy can cause part of the stomach muscles to relax which allows more stomach acids to move into the esophagus. An enlarged uterus may also play a role by pushing stomach acids upward.

So, can you take Tums while pregnant if you’re experiencing heartburn? Tums is a brand-name version of something called calcium carbonate-simethicone. It’s an antacid tablet, and calcium carbonate is believed to reduce the amount of stomach acid. Simethicone can help break up gas bubbles. Tums are taken by mouth and chewed, and there are pretty minimal side effects generally reported with their use. Tums are considered generally safe during pregnancy, and they can also provide additional calcium to pregnant women. However, it is still important to speak with a physician before taking Tums. While Tums is considered generally safe during pregnancy, Alka Seltzer may not be.

Do you or someone you love have questions or concerns about a pregnancy and don’t know where to turn for help? Get support and answers at theAmerican Pregnancy Association at 1-800-672-2296. 

Effects of Heartburn Medicine on a Fetus

There aren’t any known risk factors for a fetus if Tums is used during pregnancy. When it comes to heartburn medicine, safe options generally include formulations with calcium carbonate or magnesium. If an antacid contains aluminum, it should be avoided during pregnancy. So what about the effects of Alka Seltzer while pregnant? Many formulations of Alka Seltzer contain aspirin. Aspirin is an NSAID and NSAIDs are not considered safe during pregnancy. If any formulation of Alka Seltzer is used that contains aspirin, it can cause serious effects on a fetus.

The use of NSAIDs during pregnancy can lead to serious heart and lung problems or death. If a form of Alka Seltzer is used with aspirin, it can cause premature closing of a heart passageway in the fetus. Using aspirin while pregnant can also lower the levels of amniotic fluid. The risk of heart problems is more significant if the NSAID is taken after the 30th week of pregnancy. If an NSAID is taken during the early weeks of pregnancy, it can increase the risk of miscarriage. If an Alka Seltzer formulation doesn’t contain aspirin or another NSAID, it may be safe during pregnancy, but you should read all ingredients and also speak to your healthcare provider. Some forms of Alka Seltzer such as Alka Seltzer Plus Cold Relief may also have ingredients like chlorpheniramine, which is a decongestant. This can also be dangerous for a fetus. It’s a good rule of thumb overall when pregnant to avoid combination medications.

What Are Some Alternatives for Treating Heartburn While Pregnant?

While some heartburn medications might be safe during pregnancy, they’re not always a long-term solution to the problem. There are steps outside of medicine pregnant women can use to help their heartburn. Some lifestyle changes that may help heartburn while pregnant include:

  • Try to eat at least two to three hours before lying down or going to bed. This can help food digest and leave the stomach. It will also reduce acid levels before lying down.
  • Eat smaller meals as opposed to fewer large meals.
  • Eat slowly.
  • Certain foods and beverages can be heartburn triggers. These can include onions, chocolate, caffeine tomatoes, citrus fruits, tomatoes, and foods that are spicy or high in fat.
  • Increase water intake
  • When lying down, try to keep the head and chest higher than the feet.
  • Drink milk or eat yogurt
  • Ginger is a natural remedy that can help with certain gastrointestinal symptoms.
  • Don’t bend over after eating.
  • Try to sip liquids rather than drinking quickly.

It’s always good to try nondrug ways to deal with symptoms like heartburn when pregnant. Even beyond the above lifestyle changes, there are other ways heartburn can safely be treated during pregnancy. It’s best to speak with a medical professional who may be able to offer other dietary or lifestyle changes that can decrease heartburn and increase comfort. There may also be certain supplements a physician may recommend. If none of these things work, of course, the use of Tums and similar antacids may be safe, but only use medication under the instruction of your healthcare provider if you’re pregnant.

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The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.