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Why is heartburn during pregnancy a common problem?

Don’t worry if you get heartburn or indigestion during your pregnancy, you’re not alone. In fact, up to 80% of your fellow mums-to-be are also similarly suffering, especially in the last three months of your pregnancy.1

If you feel a burning sensation or discomfort in the centre of your chest towards the lower end of your breastbone, that’s heartburn (you might also hear it called acid reflux).1,2 But what is it about being pregnant that triggers your heartburn symptoms?  

The two most common causes of heartburn during pregnancy are:3

  • A progesterone surge– Increased levels of the hormone progesterone cause your muscles to relax. This includes the ring of muscle at the junction between your oesophagus (or food pipe) and your stomach. Usually this muscle – also known as your lower oesophageal sphincter – stops your stomach contents from escaping into your oesophagus. So when this relaxes, stomach acids can easily travel back up into your oesophagus, causing heartburn symptoms to appear.
  • Pressure from your baby- During the later stages of your pregnancy as your baby gets bigger, this puts extra pressure on your stomach, also causing heartburn.

What are the symptoms of heartburn in pregnancy?

How you can tell if you’re suffering from heartburn and how can you ease your pain?

For most pregnant women, the symptoms of heartburn and indigestion include:1, 4

  • A burning feeling in your chest or throat, most often after eating
  • Acid coming up into your mouth, causing a sour taste
  • Feeling full and bloated
  • Needing to burp
  • Feeling sick or even vomiting.

How can you ease your symptoms?

Although it is usually harmless to you and your baby, heartburn can be painful and uncomfortable for you.1 There are two simple things worth trying straight away:4 

  • Adopting a healthy diet – rich, fatty or spicy foods can trigger heartburn, as can eating large meals. Instead avoid eating foods that can trigger your heartburn, switch to eating smaller meals several times a day and don’t eat in the 3–4 hours before you go to bed
  • Sitting and sleeping in a more upright position – putting a wooden block under the head of your bed to raise it up can help if you get heartburn at night.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist about Gaviscon. Many Gaviscon products are suitable for use during pregnancy to give you effective relief of heartburn and indigestion symptoms.

How can I treat heartburn in pregnancy?

What medicines are suitable to take for you and your baby?

During pregnancy, you’ll naturally be wary about taking medicines. However, you don’t need to put up with the symptoms of heartburn or indigestion as there are suitable remedies available, such as Gaviscon Advance.

DID YOU KNOW 9 OUT OF 10 PREGNANT WOMEN FOUND GAVISCON EFFECTIVE?5

The Gaviscon range provides effective pregnancy heartburn relief and is suitable for use while you’re breastfeeding too.6,7

As Gaviscon Advance has the lowest sodium content of any product in the Gaviscon range, it’s the one that is best suited for pregnant women.

Gaviscon Advance contains an alginate that works in a physical way – which means it doesn’t get into your bloodstream, or your baby’s bloodstream either.7,8 When it comes into contact with the contents of your stomach, it forms a foam barrier that sits at the top of your stomach, to stop acids flowing back up into your oesophagus.7,8

Medicines can affect the unborn baby. As with all medications recommended for use in pregnancy & breast-feeding, the lowest effective dose should be used for the shortest duration necessary to relieve symptoms. Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medicine in pregnancy.

All information presented is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. If symptoms are severe or prolonged you should consult a doctor or pharmacist.

Gaviscon Advance Oral Suspension 300ml & 600ml contains Sodium Alginate and Potassium Bicarbonate for heartburn and indigestion.  ALWAYS READ THE LABEL. Date of preparation: June 2021. RB-M-43769

  1. Health Service Executive. Heartburn and indigestion in pregnancy. Accessed December 2020. https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/child-health/heartburn-and-indigestion-in-pregnancy.html
  2. Guts UK. Heartburn and acid reflux. Accessed December 2020. https://gutscharity.org.uk/advice-and-information/symptoms/heartburn-and-reflux/.
  3. Vazquez JC. Clin Evid, 2015;09:1411.
  4. Health Service Executive. Acid reflux. Accessed December 2020. https://www.hse.ie/eng/health/az/a/acid-reflux/.
  5. Lindow SW. Int J Clin Prac, 2003;57:175-179.
  6. Gaviscon Liquid Peppermint Flavour. Summary of Product Characteristics. Accessed June 2021. https://www.medicines.ie/medicines/gaviscon-liquid-peppermint-flavour-32244/spc
  7. Gaviscon Advance Oral Suspension Summary of Product Characteristics. Accessed June 2021. https://www.medicines.ie/medicines/gaviscon-advance-oral-suspension-32237/spc

Article published January 1, 2021