During nine months of pregnancy, there are countless side effects and symptoms you can experience.
In a healthy pregnancy, most are more aggravating than dangerous but that does not necessarily make women feel better. Heartburn is one of those symptoms, causing a significant number of pregnant women to experience a burning sensation in their chest and throat areas.
This burning sensation is caused by a weakened esophageal sphincter. When functioning properly, the esophageal sphincter sits between the stomach and the esophagus, remaining tightly closed. It opens when food passes through into the stomach.
When a woman is pregnant, there are multiple reasons why the esophageal sphincter fails to function properly. First, the levels of progesterone are elevated. This hormone is responsible for relaxing muscles throughout the body, including the sphincter valve.
When relaxed, it opens too frequently giving stomach acid a chance to move back into the esophagus and cause heartburn. Additionally, as the uterus and baby grow during the pregnancy, it compresses the rest of the body including the stomach. This compression pushes stomach contents upwards, causing heartburn.
Taking Ranitidine While Pregnant
For those suffering from heartburn while pregnant, there is no need to suffer in silence. Instead, there are a wide variety of treatment options, including medications as well as natural remedies.
One of those medications is ranitidine. Ranitidine is the generic name for the brand-name Zantac, a drug that belongs to the class of histamine receptor antagonists. This medication is used primarily for the treatment of heartburn and GERD. It is also used to heal damage in the esophagus caused by acid as well as conditions where the body produces too much stomach acid.
The way this medication works to treat heartburn is by reducing the amount of acid produced in the stomach. By decreasing the amount of acid present, it reduces the likelihood of experiencing heartburn. This can be especially helpful to those who are pregnant since they cannot do anything about the relaxed sphincter muscle. They can try to reduce the amount of stomach acid though to reduce the burning.
Ranitidine, or Zantac, is available as a tablet, capsule or syrup that can be taken as needed. Depending of the strength, it is available as a prescription and over-the-counter medication. Be sure to follow the dosage instructions provided on the packaging or given to you by a physician.
Typically, it is recommended that you take Ranitidine twice per day regardless of if you are currently experiencing symptoms. If you wait for heartburn to occur before taking the medication, it may effectively reduce heartburn. It is also recommended that you take this medication at a separate time than your prenatal vitamin as it can prevent full absorption of the nutrients needed.
Is Ranitidine Safe for Pregnant Woman?
According to the FDA, ranitidine is considered a pregnancy category B drug, which means that animal trials failed to find any evidence of fetal harm. There have not been any controlled studies though on human pregnancy.
When you take ranitidine, it does cross the placenta though although the effects of this have not been fully researched. Most physicians and medical professional recommend the use of ranitidine for the treatment of heartburn when the benefits outweigh the risks.
As with all medications, there is a risk of negative side effects. The most common side effects associated with ranitidine include:
- Stomach pain
Serious side effects are rare although possible. If you experience any of the following, seek medical attention immediately:
- Inflammation of the liver – yellowing of the eyes, lethargy, dark urine
- Changes in brain function – confusion, agitation, depression
- Abnormal heart rate – rapid heart rate, shortness of breath
Ranitidine may also negatively interact with other medications. Therefore, if you are taking another medication, be sure to discuss any potential interactions with a physician prior to taking it.
If you would rather not take medication while pregnant, there are a number of safe and effective natural remedies for the treatment of heartburn as well. Some of these include:
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Lemon Water
- Aloe Vera Juice
- Herbal tea, such as ginger or fennel seed
If you are suffering from heartburn while pregnant, be sure to speak with your physician to discuss all potential treatment options. There is no reason why you should continue to suffer when relief is possible.
The information provided here is meant to be informative and does not constitute medical advice in any way. If you have any questions or concerns, you should seek the advice of a medical professional. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should never begin a medication without first speaking with their physician or midwife.