Taking Control of Heartburn in Pregnancy

Between 30-80% of mums-to-be are known to suffer from heartburn at some time during their pregnancy.1

It can occur at any stage, but it tends to be more common from 27 weeks onwards.2

Heartburn, or acid reflux, is a symptom of indigestion, also known as dyspepsia, and is described as a burning feeling in the chest, usually after eating.3

Other symptoms include an unpleasant sour taste, which is caused by stomach acid travelling up towards the throat.

You may also feel or be sick, feel full or bloated and experience burping.2

While it can be painful, unpleasant and uncomfortable – and you’re understandably keen to do as much as you can to relieve it – rest assured it isn’t harmful to you or your baby.4

Unfortunately, heartburn is one of those pregnancy inconveniences and for most it disappears shortly after giving birth5.

So why are you more likely to have indigestion during pregnancy?

• It can be caused by hormonal changes which relax the valve between your stomach and the food tube (the oesophagus) allowing stomach acid to pass through and cause the burn.2

• As you get to the later stages of pregnancy your growing baby pressing against your stomach can also cause heartburn.2

• You may be more likely to get heartburn and acid reflux if you’ve experienced it prior to being pregnant, you’ve been pregnant before and when you’re in the third trimester of pregnancy.1

Is there anything I can do to ease the symptoms?

Simple diet and lifestyle changes are your first go-to, particularly if your symptoms are mild.

  1. It can be tempting to eat more than normal when you’re pregnant but you’re more likely to get indigestion if you’re full, so eating smaller meals means often, rather than three large meals a day may help.2
  2. Late night snacking? We’re all guilty of that at times but it’s never a good idea to eat within three hours of going to bed especially as some foods are hard to digest.7
  3. It may also help to cut down or avoid heartburn triggers such as fatty and spicy foods – yes, unfortunately chocolate is also on the trigger list along with fizzy drinks and those containing caffeine.2
  4. You can also try sitting up straight when you eat to take the pressure off your stomach.2
  5. Regular quality sleep is essential for health and wellbeing and it’s particularly important during pregnancy, so if heartburn is affecting your precious slumber, try propping up your head and shoulders up when you go to bed. Having your chest and head above the level of your waist can also help prevent stomach acid travelling up while you sleep.6
  6. Other factors known to cause heartburn and indigestion include smoking – which can seriously affect you and your unborn baby’s health – and alcohol which can lead to long term harm to your baby.2

See also: NHS Treats Baby With ‘World’s Most Expensive Drug’

What can I do if diet and lifestyle changes aren’t helping?

Your GP or midwife may recommend medicine to help ease and relieve your symptoms.2 These include antacids, which act to neutralise acid in your stomach, and alginates, which prevent the acid from travelling up towards your throat.2 They can quickly relieve symptoms in the short term, but they don’t treat the underlying cause.8

If these medicines don’t improve your heartburn symptoms, your GP may prescribe a treatment to reduce the amount of acid your stomach makes such as omeprazole.2 Omeprazole belongings to a group of medicines called Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) which work by blocking the proton pump inside the cells which are involved in the production of stomach acid.9

Omeprazole is an indigestion and heartburn treatment widely used in pregnancy2 and it can be used by adults during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.10

It’s important to stress however that medicines can affect the unborn baby so always talk to your doctor, midwife or pharmacist before taking any medicine in pregnancy.

Pyrocalm Control 20mg Gastro-Resistant Tablets is the first branded omeprazole 20mg available over the counter that provides up to 24-hour confidence in heartburn control. For more information visit: https://www.pyrocalmcontrol.co.uk/?utm_source=HealthyChild&utm_medium=PR&utm_campaign=21_PR

Essential Information: Pyrocalm Control® 20mg Gastro-Resistant Tablets. For the short-term treatment of reflux symptoms in adults. Contains 20mg omeprazole. Always read the label.

References:

1. https://cks.nice.org.uk/topics/dyspepsia-pregnancy-associated/
2. https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/related-conditions/common-symptoms/indigestion-and-heartburn/
3. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/indigestion/
4. https://www.nct.org.uk/pregnancy/worries-and-discomforts/common-discomforts/heartburn-indigestion-and-acid-reflux-pregnancy
5. https://cks.nice.org.uk/topics/dyspepsia-pregnancy-associated/background-information/causes/
6. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/heartburn-and-acid-reflux/
7. https://www.nhsborders.scot.nhs.uk/media/213568/sleep.pdf
8. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/antacids/
9. https://www.pyrocalmcontrol.co.uk/how-it-works/
10. https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/omeprazole/

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