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You’re not the only one if you’re feeling pain, discomfort, or that unpleasant burning sensation in your chest and throat from frequent meals, especially during pregnancy. Heartburn may be a new experience for you, just like many other pregnancy symptoms. We want to reassure you that it’s completely normal, and your first instinct might be to grab some Tums.
This popular chalky remedy for non-pregnancy heartburn might raise a few questions in your mind if you are pregnant: can you take Tums while pregnant? How does Tums work? Does it lead to any side effects? What is the regular strength of Tums you can take? Read on to learn the answers to these questions so you know you made the right choice by choosing Tums for your heartburn.
What are Tums?
Tums is a calcium carbonate-based antacid, and it’s commonly used to relieve discomfort caused by indigestion, an upset stomach, or heartburn. The way Tums work their magic is by serving as an antacid (sodium bicarbonate), specifically sodium bicarbonate, which helps decrease the level of stomach acid. However, it’s important to be cautious not to take too many Tums, as an excessive amount of calcium can be harmful to your body. It’s worth noting that Tums can lead to some side effects like gas and constipation, so be mindful of these symptoms if you’re concerned about taking too much.
– Dry mouth
– Vomiting and nausea
– Loss of appetite
What is Pregnancy Heartburn?
During pregnancy, about half of all soon-to-be-parents go through a common discomfort known as heartburn. You can blame your hormones for this uneasy sensation that often strikes right after a meal. When you’re expecting, relaxin and progesterone are working tirelessly to slow down the muscles in your digestive system.
When this happens, the food you just consumed moves slowly down the tract and makes your digestive system sluggish. This leads to bloating after frequent meals but did you know the worst feeling of all this digestive traffic? The burning sensation of acids and foods coming back up to the esophagus from the stomach because of the relaxed valve between them (ugh, right?)
No wonder most pregnant women (and non-pregnant folks too) run for the nearest antacid to curb this unpleasant experience. When you’re expecting a baby, you hesitate before taking any medication. You worry about whether it might harm your child and if the standard dose is safe for your pregnant body.
And The Elephant In The Room Is The Most Worrisome: Can You Take Tums While Pregnant?
Yes, you can use tums while pregnant as it has been prescribed by OB-GYNs for years. Tums work two things in a pregnant body:
– Treat pregnancy heartburn
– Provides additional calcium for both the baby and the mother
When taken in the regular strength dosage and frequency, tums are safe to use while pregnant.
What Is The Regular Strength Of Tums?
It’s best to get specific advice on how often and when to take Tums during pregnancy from your doctor. That being said, there are some general recommendations for using Tums while expecting a baby. Tums work best when taken every 4 hours while the maximum regular strength for pregnancy heartburn is 2 tablets every 4 to 6 hours.
Things to Remember
Before you pop in that calcium carbonate-based pill for heartburn here’s a list of things to keep in mind considering that you have a little human inside you:
- All OTC medications must be taken only after consulting your doctor if you are pregnant.
- The lowest dose of Tums is 500 mg.
- According to the manufacturer of Tums, pregnant women should not exceed 10 tablets in a 24-hour timeframe for a maximum of 2 weeks.
- Antacids can decrease the absorption of iron so if you are taking iron supplements do so with a gap of 2 hours between tums and iron.
- Separate thyroid medications with tums by at least a time gap of 4 hours.
How To Avoid Using Tums?
Here are 7 strategies to help you reduce heartburn and cut down on the amount of sodium bicarbonate you need:
- Wait for 2-3 hours after eating before lying down.
- Opt for 4-6 smaller meals during the day instead of 2-3 larger ones. This prevents gastric acid from being unopposed in your stomach by providing food for digestion.
- Avoid spicy food, caffeine, and alcohol, known triggers for acid reflux. Other culprits include chocolate, mint, citrus, tomatoes, garlic, black pepper, onions, fatty foods, and spicy foods.
- Identify your food sensitivities. While the mentioned foods are common heartburn causes, trigger foods can vary from person to person and lead to stomach and intestinal issues.
- Skip carbonated drinks, as excessive bubbles can increase gas and acid reflux.
- Consider using Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice (DGL) instead of antacids (sodium bicarbonate). Licorice has been shown to relieve acid reflux symptoms and may protect the stomach and esophagus by increasing mucus production. Ensure your DGL contains less than 3% glycyrrhizin and consult your doctor before taking any supplements.
- Try Marshmallow Tea, an herbal remedy that acts as a demulcent, forming a protective barrier in your digestive tract against irritants like stomach acid. It’s like building your own marshmallow fort against acid.
Lastly, while we believe that Tums or similar antacids should be in everyone’s medicine cabinet, use them sparingly, like band-aids for short-term relief. If you suffer from prolonged heartburn, seek medical assistance to determine the cause and appropriate treatment.
P.S. If you frequently use Tums or other calcium carbonate antacids, inform your doctor, especially before any blood tests, as frequent use can affect calcium levels in your blood.
The Bottom Line
Tums can be taken without concern during pregnancy, but it’s crucial to get the right dosage from your healthcare provider. While Tums is generally regarded as safe for expectant mothers, it’s a good idea to explore three alternative options with your doctor.
- Sucralfate (Carafate) is a prescription drug and a coating agent that helps with heartburn.
- H2 blockers are safe to take while pregnant to prevent heartburn (the commonly used one is Pepcid AC).
- Magnesium hydroxide is an OTC medication that can be used while pregnant but not in your 3rd trimester.
An endnote: Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are suitable for treating most conditions related to excess stomach acid. They take longer to start working compared to H2-receptor antagonists like famotidine (Pepcid), which typically kick in within an hour. However, it’s important to note that neither proton pump inhibitors nor H2-blockers provide rapid relief like antacids such as Rolaids or Tums do.