As my pregnancy progresses, most of my symptoms have been easing off. One which has reared its ugly head recently though is reflux. This happens in pregnancy when the growing fetus squashes your stomach, but also because of the hormone relaxin flooding the system. Relaxin makes muscles loosen in preparation for birth, unfortunately one muscle that is typically affected is the sphincter at the top of the stomach. This is the one that stops stomach acid from flooding your oesophagus.
I’ve been having mild to moderate reflux for some weeks now, but it worsened around the time I left Perth. I had been taking Mylanta which is an antacid to help relieve symptoms and it was helping a fair bit. I was also doing the usual dietary things such as having smaller meals, avoiding chili (sob) and leaving plenty of time before dinner and bed. By a few days before christmas however, it was no longer cutting it. In addition to the considerable pain and discomfort, I was also getting concerned about the effects on my throat and teeth.
My next effort to control the reflux was Gaviscon. This was quite effective but absolutely disgusting to take. It’s a thick liquid, some of which floats on top of your stomach contents, helping stop the acid get to the sensitive throat tissue. Gagging it down was difficult and the floppy sphincter made me concerned about it coming back up too easily.
Finally after a bit of reading and research, I decided to give Zantac a try. The active ingredient in Zantac is ranitidine which inhibits the production of stomach acid. This means that it helps to prevent reflux rather than just treating the symptoms. It’s available over the counter and is a pregnancy category B drug. It’s pretty widely used by pregnant women and I had a chat to the pharmacist about contraindications. I also bought the generic brand after checking the ingredients.
Deciding which (if any) drugs to take during pregnancy is a bit of a fraught issue for many people. I know of plenty of women who will take nothing at all in case it could hurt their growing fetus. I prefer to take a risk-benefit approach which acknowledges that my health and wellbeing is also important, both to myself and to Spudlet. This is a situation where my scientific training, research ability and effort to make informed decisions becomes very useful. It’s good to be able to go to the doctor, midwife, chemist etc with specific questions having already done some reading on a given topic or topics. It means that I’m much likely to get useful, detailed information rather than general assurances.
I’m planning to make an appointment to talk with my doctor about reflux management when I get back home. In the meantime however, I’m glad to report that the Zantac is working beautifully and for now, the reflux is under control.