Is it Safe to Treat a Stomach Ulcer During Pregnancy?
Some women who are pregnant may have stomach ulcers prior to pregnancy or develop stomach ulcers after they have become pregnant. Frequency, H pylori symptoms, and complications from pre-existing peptic ulcers appear to decrease in most women who are pregnant.
It is unusual for a stomach ulcer to be diagnosed for the first time during pregnancy, however. Unless the symptoms of a stomach ulcer are severe, most doctors will want to avoid endoscopic procedures to explore symptoms and determine their cause.
Women who have a history or stomach ulcers that become pregnant may be concerned about the continuation of treatments and medications during the pregnancy. If it is necessary to continue treatments for stomach ulcers during the pregnancy, most treatment medications have been deemed safe and are not known to cause birth defects.
This is true of most stomach ulcer medications including H2 blockers that work to prevent acids from being secreted into the stomach and include drugs such as cimetidine, ranitidine, nizatidine, and famotidine. Ranitidine is often used just prior to a cesarean procedure and sometimes during labor, so it is especially safe during pregnancy.
Other medications carry less research to prove they are safe during pregnancy, but are still not evident to cause birth defects including sucralfate, omeprazole, esomeprazole, lansoprazole, and pantoprazole. Because there is no evidence that they are safe they should be avoided during pregnancy.
However, there is some research which suggests that some PPIs may cause mineral deficiencies in newborns, so be sure to consult with your doctor before starting any prescription medicines.
Heartburn and other acid reflux symptoms seem to increase and many women may seek medical treatment for these symptoms when antacids alone do not help to relieve the discomfort. Note that many medical experts believe that antacids should be avoided in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. After the first trimester though, antacids are safe for treating symptoms.
Even though the symptoms of stomach ulcers subside during pregnancy for most, some women report that symptoms of pain are quite severe during pregnancy. This usually only happens in cases where the pain of stomach ulcers is also extreme when they are not pregnant. In these cases, some home remedies to help ease the pain may be best suited until childbirth when it’s safest to return to medications.
Stomach Ulcer Remedies during Pregnancy
Since some medications are not proven to be safe for use during pregnancy, you may decide to try a more natural treatment for you ulcer symptoms. Normal medications used to treat stomach ulcers are known as PPIs and H2 blockers.
These types of medication are effective in preventing acid production or blocking the acids from entering the stomach. Stomach acids not only cause ulcers, but they cause ulcer symptoms – burning, nausea, vomiting, etc. With this knowledge, you can choose to consume natural foods that accomplish similar tasks until childbirth.
There is no definitive guide containing food that hurt ulcers and foods that help ulcers. This is because people respond differently to certain foods. Some people feel nauseous because they eat and others feel nauseous because they haven’t eaten anything. It is the same story with specific types of foods.
However – pregnancy does cause heartburn in most women. Foods that are notorious heartburn triggers should be avoided for that reason. That includes foods that are high in fat, caffeine, and seasonings. Acidic foods like tomato and citrus fruits can also cause increased acid production that result in more heartburn.
It is also a good idea to avoid other items that cause ulcer symptoms like alcohol and smoking cigarettes, but you’ve likely given these up anyway if you are pregnant.
Since stomach ulcers seem to produce fewer symptoms when the stomach is not empty, it may be best to eat smaller frequent meals to keep food in your stomach. Try to avoid overeating as well, since that stimulates the production of more acids.
Both may be hard to accomplish during the first trimester of pregnancy when nausea is so common. However, nausea is also a symptom of stomach ulcers so a natural remedy for that may help as well.
Avoid milk. You may have heard that milk is great for coating the stomach and easing stomach ulcer pain but it actually causes more acid to be produced!
High fiber diets help the stomach’s protective coatings (mucosa) stay healthy and strong.
If you have h. pylori induced ulcers, a garlic supplement may help boost your immune system. Garlic’s active compound known as allicin is nature’s most effective and strongest natural antibiotic. It is used to treat everything from abscessed teeth to sinus infections by homeopathic experts and is well worth the test. Just note that raw garlic can worsen heartburn, so try an enteric coated tablet instead. Bismuth is also fairly adept at killing off some of the h. pylori that cause stomach ulcers during pregnancy.
A mythical “Vitamin U”, now known as S-Methylmethionine, is a chemical found in many plants but is best known to be heavily concentrated in cabbage juice. Research dating back to 1949 noted that this agent had significant impact on reducing stomach ulcers.