Around 80% of women experience indigestion at some stage of their pregnancy. Some of these symptoms are feeling too full, feeling sick or nauseous, bloating, regurgitation, burping and heartburn. It’s not surprising that your digestion is a bit compromised when your stomach is not allowed as much space as usual and will probably be quite squashed towards the end of your pregnancy. Hormonal changes can also be the cause of indigestion.
Heartburn is a very strong, burning pain that you feel in your chest. It’s caused by stomach acids escaping your stomach and going into your oesophagus. When you are pregnant, the lower oesophageal sphincter actually relaxes which allows stomach acids too leak more easily. That’s why you are more likey to experience heartburn in pregnancy.
I’d never had proper heartburn before I was pregnant. I only ever got that acid feeling in the top of my throat after eating certain things but never a pain in my chest area. I’ve not had it since either so for me real heartburn is completely pregnancy related.
There are lots of different ways to relieve your heartburn symptoms:
Eat a healthy and varied diet.
Try to eat smaller meals more frequently rather than a few large meals spread far apart.
Sit up straight when eating and afterwards.
Avoid eating within three hours before going to bed. Can be difficult when you are a hungry pregnant lady!
Drink a glass of milk! For some people, this can help. I don’t like milk but I do like milkshakes and thought this was a great excuse to have them frequently when I was pregnant. The calcium must have been good for my baby too.
Avoid triggers like fruit juice, chocolate, rich/spicy/fatty foods and caffeinated drinks. These can be different for different people. Keep a diary of what you eat to recognise your triggers.
Avoid bending over.
Prop your head and shoulders up with pillows when you go to bed to help prevent stomach acid from moving up into your oesophagus when you are laid down.
Sometimes, changes to your lifestyle and diet is not enough to control the symptoms of heartburn. If that’s the case you can ask your GP, midwife or pharmacist for advice on what products to use. There are lots of pregnancy safe products available but it’s always good to ask a professional first. Some medicines need to be taken when you expect you will soon have symptoms, for example before a meal or before going to bed, and others you use to treat symptoms when they are already there.
The types of pregnancy safe heartburn medicines available are:
Antacids which can provide immediate relief by neutralising the acid in your stomach so that it doesn’t irritate the protective lining of your digestive system.
Antacids are sometimes combined with alginates that form a physical barrier that floats on the surface of your stomach contents and therefore keeps the stomach acid where it should be and stops it leaking into your oesophagus. This combination is usually effective at controlling heartburn during pregnancy.
If you have really severe problems with heartburn you might need prescription medicines that suppresses the acid in your stomach, like ranitidine or omeprazole.
Gaviscon is the market leader heartburn resolution and the brand has lots of heartburn relief products that are suitable for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. These include Gaviscon Original, Gaviscon Double Action and Gaviscon Advance – in both liquid and tablet format. They all work by forming a raft over the stomach contents which helps to prevent acid coming back up into the oesophagus, which effectively relieves heartburn symptoms. The products get to work instantly and the relief last up to twice as long compared to antacids alone.
Gaviscon Original contains sodium alginate, calcium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate. Original is available in bottled liquids (Peppermint, Original Aniseed, Cool), tablets (Peppermint, Strawberry, Cool) and liquid sachets (Mint).
Gaviscon Double Action contains sodium alginate, calcium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate. It works in two ways to effectively relieve both heartburn and indigestion by forming the raft and quickly neutralising excess stomach acid. It’s available in bottles liquid (Mint), tablets and liquid sachets.
Gaviscon Advance contains sodium alginate and potassium bicarbonate. Gaviscon Advance contains double the concentration of sodium alginate and forms a stronger more resilient raft compared to Gaviscon Original and can only be bought through pharmacies. It’s available in bottled liquids (Peppermint, Aniseed) and as tablets (Mint).
Here’s a video showing how Gaviscon works:
I love the wide choice of products that Gaviscon offers. You can really find the flavour and format that works well for you. For me it’s Gaviscon Double Action in Mint, tablets or liquids. I’m glad I only get heartburn during pregnancy and it’s so great that there are so many safe and efficient Gaviscon products to choose from. There’s no need to suffer — pregnancy is meant to be enjoyed!
Buy Gaviscon from your pharmacy, supermarket or Amazon.co.uk.
Before writing this article, I reasearched the topic and gathered information from the NHS website and Gaviscon.co.uk. All words, thoughts and opinions are my own. I received a gift as a thank you for writing this article.
I'm a mum in my mid 30s with over 15 years of childcare experience working as a private nanny, babysitter and a few years as a nursery teacher. Now I've got my own family too! I love finding great products for mums and kids.