Can You Take Baking Soda While Pregnant?

Today, we're going to tell you if it's safe to consume baking soda while pregnant to combat heartburn and digestive discomfort.
Can You Take Baking Soda While Pregnant?

Last update: 03 December, 2021

Bicarbonate is one of the main natural remedies for heartburn, as it manages to neutralize acids and produce a sensation of considerable relief. In turn, this symptom is usually very annoying among pregnant women, especially after the second trimester. But is it safe to consume baking soda while pregnant in order to counteract this discomfort?

The first thing to be clear about is that in this period of life, the intake of certain substances is limited due to the potential risks to the baby’s health. While some of these elements are non-toxic to the mother, they can impact fetal development. Therefore, before incorporating any medication or natural remedy into your regimen, it’s essential to consult with your doctor.

What is baking soda used for?

Sodium bicarbonate is a chemical compound that’s used for various health conditions: It helps calm digestive discomfort, fights urinary infections, reduces body odor, and even serves as an ergogenic substance for sports practice.

A pregnant woman with heartburn.

Baking soda during pregnancy

There’s evidence to suggest that the consumption of baking soda while pregnant could induce labor naturally, besides the effects we’ve mentioned. Although there’s some disagreement about the advisability of ingesting this substance during pregnancy, there are no solid conclusions in this regard.

It should also be noted that it could be used during labor to relieve pain, as an adjunct to anesthesia. This is evidenced by a study published in Anesthesia and Analgesia.

Many experts state that baking soda shouldn’t be abused during the gestation period, as the effects on the fetus aren’t precisely known. In this sense, they recommend safer alternatives, such as changes in dietary habits or the use of drugs that have been shown to be safe in this context.

In fact, bicarbonate itself could increase the risk of metabolic alkalosis in the mother, in addition to the possible teratogenic effects on the baby.

Among the most salient side effects of baking soda are the following:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Fluid retention
  • Gas and cramps
  • Drug interactions

Before including this compound in your diet, it’s best to consult with your obstetrician. This doctor is able to evaluate the convenience and safety of its use, as well as establish the appropriate schedule and dosage.

Other options besides baking soda

If what you want is to find relief at the gastrointestinal level without resorting to baking soda, there are other alternatives that have been shown to be much safer during pregnancy. For example, reduce the volume of your meals, eat more frequently throughout the day, and avoid heavy foods.

In the same way, it’s essential that you avoid ultra-processed foods and those foods that are high in trans fats and added sugars.

Nor should you eat very hot or very cold foods, as this could stimulate the acid secretion of the stomach.

Finally, you should wait a prudent time before going to bed after dinner.

A pregnant woman eating fruits and nuts.

There are doubts about the use of bicarbonate while pregnant

As you’ve seen, there’s some controversy regarding the use of bicarbonate in pregnancy.

Although it has applications beyond the control of acidity, it hasn’t been possible to demonstrate the harmlessness of its administration in the fetus. Therefore, many experts advise against its use during this period to avoid any type of risk.

In any case, it’s always preferable to first opt for a lifestyle modification and consult with your doctor if these measures are insufficient.

Keep in mind that avoiding toxins, carbonated drinks, juices, and industrial foods during pregnancy will improve digestive discomfort. It will also be decisive to maintain good body composition and avoid being overweight or obese, as these conditions tend to worsen gastrointestinal functioning.

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  • Higuera-de-la-Tijera F. (2018). Efficacy of omeprazole/sodium bicarbonate treatment in gastroesophageal reflux disease: a systematic review. Eficacia del tratamiento con omeprazol y bicarbonato de sodio en la enfermedad por reflujo gastroesofágico: revisión sistemática. Medwave18(2), e7179. https://doi.org/10.5867/medwave.2018.02.7179
  • Sharawi, N., Bansal, P., Williams, M., Spencer, H., & Mhyre, J. M. (2021). Comparison of Chloroprocaine Versus Lidocaine With Epinephrine, Sodium Bicarbonate, and Fentanyl for Epidural Extension Anesthesia in Elective Cesarean Delivery: A Randomized, Triple-Blind, Noninferiority Study. Anesthesia and analgesia132(3), 666–675. https://doi.org/10.1213/ANE.0000000000005141
  • Eva Wiberg-Itzel, Susan Wray & Helena Åkerud (2018) A randomized controlled trial of a new treatment for labor dystocia, The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, 31:17, 2237-2244, DOI: 10.1080/14767058.2017.1339268
  • Mahadevan U. (2007). Gastrointestinal medications in pregnancy. Best practice & research. Clinical gastroenterology21(5), 849–877. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpg.2007.06.002