March of Dimes Helps Women Cope With and Avoid Heartburn During Pregnancy

March of Dimes
Tuesday, 12 August 2003

Bone-Building Calcium Essential to Good Health For Moms and Babies Is Key Ingredient in Heartburn Relief

More than four million women are expected to give birth this year. Chances are a majority may experience heartburn, especially in the later stages of pregnancy -- but that doesn't mean they have to suffer. According to the March of Dimes, there are several steps pregnant and nursing women can take to prevent and treat heartburn.

"Heartburn and indigestion often occur during pregnancy because hormone changes allow reflux of stomach acids back into the esophagus," said Dr. Nancy Green, medical director of the March of Dimes.
" These stomach acids can irritate the sensitive esophageal lining, causing a burning sensation right around the heart (in the chest or under the breastbone). Late in pregnancy, the problem can be compounded by the increasing size of the uterus as it presses against the stomach."


According to the March of Dimes, some of the best ways to avoid heartburn include:

  • Refrain from eating spicy or rich, fatty or fried foods

  • Chew slowly, and eat smaller meals more often

  • Allow two-to-three hours for digestion before lying down or going to bed

  • Sleep with head slightly elevated


Taking an antacid made from calcium carbonate can also help. "Pregnant women are common sufferers of heartburn and taking a calcium carbonate antacid can not only relieve or prevent heartburn but can serve a dual purpose as a calcium supplement and help supply much-needed calcium. Calcium carbonate is the same form of the mineral found in many calcium supplements and can help expectant mothers maintain strong bones, as part of a healthy diet of foods containing calcium, " Green said.

Calcium carbonate, the form found in TUMS®, has the highest percentage of elemental calcium, the type readily used by the body. Mothers can also continue to take calcium carbonate as a calcium supplement even after they have given birth to ensure they receive the recommended amount – which can range from 1,000-1,500 mg – of calcium daily.

The March of Dimes is providing information about prevention and treatment of heartburn during pregnancy as part of a national calcium education initiative with GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare, makers of TUMS®, an antacid and calcium supplement.

Why is calcium important?

Virtually every cell in the body needs calcium. In addition to keeping bones and teeth strong calcium is used by the circulatory, muscular and nervous systems to keep the heart beating steadily and nerves and muscles functioning smoothly. When a woman does not get enough calcium from her diet, the body draws calcium from her bones to make up the difference. Over time, this may significantly weaken bones and can lead to osteoporosis, or bone loss.

During pregnancy, the developing baby uses calcium from the mother's body to build bones and teeth, putting increased demands on the mother's calcium supply. Later, when the baby is breastfeeding, calcium from the mother is used in the development of mother's milk, putting added calcium demand on the mother during the post-partum period.

"Many women may not realize that their prenatal vitamins, as well as many of the multivitamin supplements they may take during the post-partum period, do not contain enough calcium to sustain optimal bone health," Green said. "So continuing to take a calcium carbonate-based antacid even when pregnancy-related heartburn is no longer a problem can be good since it can double as a calcium supplement."

About the Calcium Education Partnership

The March of Dimes and GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Heathcare, makers of TUMS®, are partnering to get mothers and babies off to a healthy start through calcium education. Program initiatives will include building national awareness and providing educational materials to help women understand the need for good nutrition and adequate intake of key vitamins and minerals, including calcium, during their childbearing years. Consumers can find more information about calcium and pregnancy by visiting or

About GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare

GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare is one of the world's largest over-the-counter healthcare products companies and ranks second globally in sales of oral care products. Its more than 30 well-known products include such medicine cabinet staples as Abreva®, Aquafresh® toothpastes and toothbrushes, Nicorette®, NicoDerm ® CQ, Oxy®, Sensodyne® and TUMS®. For more information on TUMS®, please visit

About GlaxoSmithKline

GlaxoSmithKline – one of the world's leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies – is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer.

For more information, or to contact March of Dimes, see their website at:

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