Heartburn in Pregnancy

 Obstetrics  Comments Off on Heartburn in Pregnancy
May 262012

What is Heartburn?

Heartburn (acid reflux) is a condition where the acid in your stomach can back up in to your esophagus (the tube from your mouth to your stomach).

What are the symptoms of Heartburn?

Heartburn is characterized by a burning sensation in the chest or throat, acid taste in the mouth, nausea or vomiting or difficulty swallowing.

Many women get heartburn in pregnancy and symptoms typically worsen as the pregnancy progresses. It usually goes away after the baby is born. Women who have acid reflux in one pregnancy are likely to get it again in future pregnancies.

How can I treat heartburn in pregnancy?

  • Eat 4-6 small meals per day instead of 3 large ones.
  • Avoid eating within 3 hours of bedtime. Sitting up after eating allows gravity to help with reflux.
  • Avoid foods that make your heartburn worse (typically caffeinated beverages, chocolate, citrus, spicy and fatty foods).
  • Sleep with extra pillows to raise your head or raise the head of your bed

What Medications can I take for heartburn in pregnancy?

When the conservative measures are just  not, medications can be very helpful to alleviate symptoms and —Yes, they are safe and over-the-counter. Just take as directed on the label.

  • Mild or occasional heartburn: mild heartburn symptoms can be treated with antacids such Tums or Maalox.  While these are very safe to use, be sure not to exceed the recommended dose on the label. These are medicines taken as needed.
  • Moderate heartburn/reflux: second line therapies include the histamine blockers such as Pepcid, Tagamet and Zantac. These can be used on an as needed basis or taken daily.
  • Severe heartburn symptoms: third line medical therapy is with the proton pump inhibitors (PPI) Prilosec and Prevacid. Both of these are now over-the-counter and work best taken daily to prevent heartburn instead of using on an “as needed” basis.

What heartburn symptoms may require more immediate attention?

  • Severe or persistent nausea and vomiting
  • Vomiting blood or coffee ground like material
  • Black or Tarry stools
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty swallowing