Heartburn is a common issue that women face when they are pregnant. This condition is even more common for ladies that got pregnant for the first time. Most of the time, heartburn does not harm, but it can be annoying. There are medications for heartburn, such as Tums, but can you take Tums while pregnant?
In general, Tums are safe for pregnant ladies. In fact, they should take it when there is discomfort from indigestion, acid reflux, or heartburn. Tums in the form of chewable antacids may be best since they react fast and can also double as a calcium supplement. However, side effects such as flatulence and constipation may happen.
This post explores if Tums are safe for pregnant women, as well as explores some of the ways to manage heartburn or acid reflux with other ways. Some tips to reduce heartburn will also be discussed.
What Are Tums?
Tums is a brand of chewable, calcium carbonate-based antacids you can purchase over-the-counter. It works by neutralizing the hydrochloric acid your stomach is producing. You may purchase Tums in various flavors, strengths, and sweetness levels.
Tums is a brand of over-the-counter antacid that you can take to manage symptoms of acid reflux, heartburn, and indigestion. It was introduced in 1930 and is now made by Haleon Pharmaceuticals, one of the world’s biggest consumer healthcare corporations.
When looking at its content, Tums is essentially made of calcium carbonate and sugar. The sugar is sucrose, although you can purchase a sugar-free version. You can also purchase Tums in multiple flavors, such as orange, berry, and cherry.
You can purchase Tums from many pharmacies across the country without a prescription. This is because Tums is not a very strong form of antacids. It only uses calcium carbonate to neutralize the hydrochloric acid from the stomach.
Prescription-grade antacids usually use proton-pump inhibitors (PPI) or histamine H2 receptor blockers. Some also block the production of stomach acids. These antacids will need a doctor’s prescription.
Can You Take Tums While Pregnant?
You may take Tums when pregnant. This is because it is not a strong antacid compared to prescription-grade ones. Tums contain calcium carbonate that will help to neutralize the acid, relieving heartburn. However, constipation and flatulence may happen as side effects.
Heartburn and acid reflux can be common occurrences for pregnant ladies. This is because pregnancy-related hormones present in the body may interfere with and slow the gastrointestinal transit time. It means your food and acid production may not work in good sync.
Another reason is that as the fetus grows, it presses against the stomach and the junction where your stomach and esophagus meet. This may result in gastric acid and food entering the esophagus. The pain and burning sensation are what we recognize as heartburn or sour stomach.
For common folks, the first reaction is to simply chew on a few Tums, let the calcium carbonate manage the acid, and get on with life. But, for pregnant ladies might be unsure since they worry Tums may harm the baby inside them.
Generally, it is safe for pregnant ladies to take Tums, a fact confirmed by The American Pregnancy Association. In fact, calcium carbonate chewable tablets such as Tums taste well. They can even serve as a way to get calcium supplementation, which is important for pregnant mothers.
The key is to understand that taking Tums may cause constipation and flatulence for some pregnant mothers. This is confirmed by Rami Khatib, RPh, CDE, manager, and owner of Sechelt Pharmacy in British Columbia, Canada.
However, flatulence and constipation are common amongst pregnant mothers. This would mean that if that were to happen, it might not be caused by Tums.
You may like this article: Can You Donate Plasma While Pregnant?
How To Take Tums While Pregnant Safely?
Despite being safe for pregnant mothers, Tums can still be harmful if not consumed correctly. The key is to avoid overconsumption, over 2,500mg a day. If Tums are unavailable, search for other calcium-carbonate-based antacids, as some other types may not suit pregnant mothers. Monitoring iron levels can be important too.
Tums Are Not Candies
Tums are chewable antacids, and to make chewing the tablets a more pleasant experience, sugars and flavoring are added to them. You can choose from Tums with sugar, sugar-free, and in multiple flavors such as berries and orange. You can even choose from chewable tablets to soft chew cubes, similar to gummies.
However, it does not mean you want to treat it like candy, which means you do not want to consume it unless you have symptoms that require antacids.
This fact is confirmed by Haleon Pharmaceuticals, the makers of Tums. Its website advises that pregnant individuals should limit themselves to a maximum of 15 Tums regular strength 500 within any 24-hour period.
That translates into 7,500mg a day. You might consider following the recommendations as overconsumption of calcium carbonates can cause kidney stones, blood PH increase, nausea, and vomiting. This may harm you and your baby.
Calcium-Carbonate Antacids When Possible
Sometimes you may be looking for your Tums, but the local pharmacy has sold out. Instead, you are recommended other brands of antacids. If you are, it helps to ensure that the antacids are calcium-carbonate-based and not others.
This is because there are many types of antacids out there, such as those with:
Magnesium Hydroxide – e.g., Milk Of Magnesia, Gelusil
Aluminum Hydroxide – e.g., Mylanta
Bismuth Subsalicylate – e.g., Pepto-Bismol
Antacids are also made of Magnesium trisilicate, aspirin, and sodium bicarbonate.
Some of these antacids may be safe at recommended dosage but may cause constipation in larger amounts. Aluminum, for example, may also easily be toxic if present in the body in large amounts.
Watch Your Iron Levels
Tums contain calcium, which may interfere with iron absorption in your body. Pregnant mothers tend to require more iron to produce blood for themselves and the baby, which means overconsumption of Tums may cause more health complications.
This means you do not want to consume Tums with an iron supplement or high-iron food such as red meats or iron. If you do so, you will not be able to absorb most of the iron.
Less Fluid Is Better
Another thing to think about is that while you swallow something, be it food or water, it will trigger your stomach to produce digestive juices. These digestive juices are primarily hydrochloric acid.
If you get the idea here, while having heartburn or acid reflux, the last thing you want is for your stomach to produce more acids.
This means you may not want to drink a lot of water when you consume your Tums. Just enough to help you swallow the chewed tablets into the system, so they get to work and relieve your heartburn.
Can You Take Alka-Seltzer During Pregnancy?
Alka-Seltzer is a brand of antacid that contains aspirin, which might not be too suitable for pregnant mothers. This is because aspirin has caused complications during pregnancy, such as pregnancy loss, congenital disabilities, and premature closing vessels of the fetus’s heart.
Alka-Seltzer is another popular brand of antacids that many may encounter at the local pharmacy. However, is Alka-Seltzer safe for pregnant mothers?
Alka-Seltzer should be consumed under advice for pregnant mothers. Although aspirin can sometimes be recommended for pregnant mothers, it has been known to result in pregnancy complications.
Mayo Clinic has listed that aspirin can be harmful to pregnant mothers in several ways:
- Premature closing of heart vessels in the fetus
- Pregnancy loss
- Congenital disabilities
- Brain bleeding in the fetus
This means, when possible, steer clear of Alka Seltzer and instead look for calcium-carbonate-based heartburn relief.
Are There Other Medicines For Heartburn During Pregnancy?
You may consider acid reducers or Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) for stronger and long-term heartburn relief. These medications focus on reducing stomach acid instead of neutralizing existing acids. They may be strong, which means you may need a prescription.
Sometimes, you may need something stronger, as simple antacids like Tums cannot deal with your issues. There are more effective and longer-lasting solutions to help with long-term heartburn, such as acid reducers or Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs).
Unlike antacids that neutralize acid, acid reducers slow down or stop acid production, relieving heartburn at its main source. Pepcid Complete is a common brand of acid reducers.
However, it may be too late to take acid reducers when you get heartburn, as the acid has been produced. This means you want to take acid reducers before meals to help avoid heartburn. You may follow up with some antacids if the acid reducers fail to reduce your heartburn.
Suppose both acid reducers and antacids cannot help you manage your heartburn and acid reflux well enough. In that case, you may see a doctor and ask about Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs).
PPI works by reducing stomach acid production but in a more clinical way. It does so by targeting the proton pumps in the stomach, reducing the amount of acids they produce. PPIs include medicines such as pantoprazole (Protonix), lansoprazole (Prevacid), omeprazole (Prilosec), and esomeprazole (Nexium).
Acid reducers and PPIs may require a doctor’s prescription.
How To Reduce Heartburn During Pregnancy?
You may reduce heartburn during pregnancy by managing your food, reducing fluid intake, and by chewing some gum after meals. They may not eliminate heartburn but perhaps can minimize it, allowing a better quality of life.
No ‘Sensitive’ Food
Avoid caffeine, chocolate, acidic foods like citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes, mustard, vinegar, processed meats, mint products, and spicy, highly seasoned, fried, or fatty foods.
Consider drinking fewer fluids when eating to avoid overproduction of stomach acids. Pregnant women are recommended to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water daily. Still, it may be better to sip it throughout the day.
Do not eat too much. Instead, eat small meals several times a day. Smaller meals do not require too much acid to digest, avoiding overproduction.
Chewing gum makes your salivary glands work, and saliva is alkali. This means saliva can help neutralize the acid somewhat.