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Can I Take TUMS While Pregnant?


Growing a baby is a magical thing but it's not always comfortable. For many parents-to-be, the physical symptoms of heartburn, such as stomach upset and indigestion, can truly dampen the overall pregnancy experience. Whether these bothersome symptoms are persistent or intermittent, the discomfort of heartburn may have parents seeking out safe ways to calm the "gastro-storm."

In their search for relief, pregnant parents may be wondering if it is OK to use common over-the-counter treatments, such as TUMS. The good news is, TUMS is considered a safe treatment option for symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in pregnancy.

We reached out to pregnancy experts to learn more about safe usage, as well as suggested precautions, for TUMS as a treatment for those pesky, magic-stealing symptoms of heartburn.

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What Is TUMS?

TUMS is an over-the-counter antacid with the main ingredient calcium carbonate. It is used to relieve symptoms of heartburn, indigestion, and acid reflux. According to Shannon M. Clark, MD, a professor in maternal-fetal medicine in Galveston, TX, most pregnant patients will experience some symptoms of GERD due to the fact that pregnancy-induced hormones slow down the gastrointestinal transit time.1

Pregnancy hormones are not the only culprit, though. Clark says, "As the uterus grows, pressure is placed on the stomach and gastroesophageal junction, allowing gastric acid and food contents to enter the esophagus." TUMS help to neutralize and prevent refluxed gastric acid from making its way to the esophagus.2

Every pregnancy is different. Be sure to consult with a healthcare provider about your circumstances if you have any questions about taking TUMS while pregnant.

Is It Safe to Take TUMS During Pregnancy?

According to Rami Khatib, RPh, CDE, manager and owner of Sechelt Pharmacy in British Columbia, Canada, "It is safe to reach for TUMS at any point when there is discomfort from indigestion, acid reflux, heartburn, or in cases of stomach ulcer flareup."

Khatib notes two possible side effects of using TUMS while pregnant, constipation and flatulence, which can be known to come with the pregnancy territory already.

Taking TUMS to relieve symptoms of GERD, while pregnant, is generally safe and effective. But Clark does caution those who have known kidney disease to discuss with a healthcare provider before taking TUMS. Antacids can disrupt the body's electrolyte balance if you have chronic kidney disease.3

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Safety Precautions

Though safe, it is a good idea to keep some precautions in mind when taking TUMS. Knowing what ingredient to look for when it comes to choosing an over-the-counter antacid, understanding how TUMS might impact your ability to absorb iron from foods and supplements, and being aware of the recommended dose can help keep your symptoms in check and your growing baby safe.

Choose Calcium Carbonate

Clark recommends selecting a calcium carbonate-based antacid (such as TUMS) and to avoid antacids containing sodium bicarbonate and magnesium trisilicate, as well as those with aspirin.

"The daily recommended intake of calcium during pregnancy is upward of 1200mg of elemental calcium from all sources,"4 Khatib says. But do be careful with your calcium intake. You do not want to take in more than 2,500mg of calcium each day.5

Ingesting too much calcium can cause constipation, kidney stones, trouble absorbing minerals such as iron and zinc, irregular heartbeat,6 and low calcium in the baby's body.7

Watch Your Iron Levels

Be cautious and follow your healthcare provider's guidelines on taking both iron and calcium. "Do not take TUMS at the same time as an iron supplement, as it can interfere with the absorption of iron or make your symptoms temporarily worse," Dr. Clark says.8

Don't Treat TUMS Like Candy

As with most things, moderation is key. According to the manufacturer's website, pregnant individuals are advised to limit themselves to a maximum of 15 TUMS Regular Strength 500 within any 24 hour period.9 The maximums differ from product to product, so be sure to read the bottle carefully and consult with a healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.

Dr. Clark suggests keeping an eye on intake and symptoms. "If you find you are using TUMS daily or they do not relieve your symptoms, be sure to let your obstetrical care provider know."

But if TUMS aren't working to relieve your symptoms after a while, don't fret. "It may be time to consider alternative therapy for your symptoms of GERD, like a prescription medication," says Dr. Clark.

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Pregnancy Safe Alternatives

Dr. Clark reminds us that antacids, such as TUMS, may offer relief but they do not prevent GERD. If you are interested in targeting the source of your heartburn holistically, Michelle Durkin, ND, owner of Quinte Naturopathic Centre, offers some suggestions.

Try Visceral Manipulation

Dr. Durkin suggests finding a qualified practitioner, most commonly an osteopath, who can assess if your gastroesophageal sphincter needs to be treated. The pyloric sphincter, Dr. Durkin explains, is the valve at the top of your stomach that can get pushed open as the baby gets bigger or relaxed open with higher levels of progesterone in pregnancy.10

Consult with a healthcare provider before seeking visceral manipulation, particularly during pregnancy. Always provide them with a complete health history and seek out a reputable practitioner before receiving any treatments.

Adjust Your Diet

It is worth giving some consideration to the foods that trigger your symptoms. Dr. Durkin suggests a few common heartburn-inducing culprits that you may want to cut out or limit, such as fried or fatty foods, caffeine, chocolate, soda, garlic, onions, sugary foods, tomatoes, citrus, dairy, or even gluten.

Dr. Durkin also suggests eating smaller, more frequent meals, sitting up while eating, and avoiding laying down directly after eating.