Understanding heartburn / indigestion in pregnancy

Gaviscon Product Range - Gaviscon Double Action, Gaviscon Cool, Gaviscon Advance Suspension, Gaviscon Original

Both heartburn (acid reflux) and indigestion are common in pregnancy and tend to become more so as the pregnancy progresses. In fact, by the third trimester nearly three quarters of pregnant women will suffer from heartburn. (Reference: 72% - 1 Source: Marrero JM, Goggin PM, de Caestecker JS, Pearce JM, Maxwell JD. Determinants of pregnancy heartburn. Br J Obstet Gynaecol 1992;99: 731-4)

There are two main reasons why heartburn and, to a lesser extent, indigestion are common at this time. Firstly, because the surge in the hormone progesterone causes muscles to relax. This includes the sphincter (ring of muscle) at the entrance to the stomach. When this relaxes, stomach acids are able to travel back up into the oesophagus (food pipe) causing heartburn.

During the latter stages of pregnancy symptoms can also be caused by the baby physically putting pressure on the woman's digestive tract.

There are some simple steps you can take if you are pregnant and suffering from heartburn or indigestion, such as eating a healthy diet, sitting and/or sleeping in a more upright position and keeping weight gain within the recommended limits.

You should talk to your health practitioner as there are some highly effective products in the Gaviscon range that are suitable for pregnant women.

Medicines can affect the unborn baby. Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medicine in pregnancy.


During pregnancy you will naturally be wary about taking medicines, however you need not put up with the symptoms of heartburn or indigestion.

Many of the products in the Gaviscon range are completely safe to use in pregnancy and can be used by expectant women. For example, Gaviscon Original, Gaviscon Cool and Gaviscon Advance are all suitable for use in pregnancy. This is because they are remedies known as alginates. Gaviscon products contain sodium alginate. Alginates work with the body by forming a thick layer on top of the stomach contents which prevents the acid rising into the oesophagus (food pipe) - they do not enter the bloodstream.

In case you are unfamiliar with the variants in the Gaviscon range:

Gaviscon Cool has added xylitol (an ingredient often found in chewing gum) to give it a refreshing cool feel - which you may appreciate if you are suffering from a bad taste in the mouth.

Gaviscon Advance has double the concentration of sodium alginate compared to the Original formula - but still works with the body rather than entering the bloodstream so despite its extra strength, it still works in the same way and is suitable for use during pregnancy.

Another product you may wish to consider is Gaviscon Double Action. This is both an alginate and an antacid (i.e. it helps to neutralise the stomach acid as well). This can be useful if you are suffering from both heartburn and indigestion and again, Gaviscon Double Action is suitable to use in pregnancy.

Medicines can affect the unborn baby. Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medicine in pregnancy.