Can I Take Baking Soda During Pregnancy?

Sodium bicarbonate of soda is able to reduce heartburn, treat mouth ulcers and reduce minor sore throats, but can it be taken during pregnancy?
Can I Take Baking Soda During Pregnancy?
Leonardo Biolatto

Reviewed and approved by the doctor Leonardo Biolatto.

Written by Daniela Andarcia

Last update: 28 December, 2022

Pregnant women often have questions about the food and medicines they can consume, especially when they experience common discomforts such as heartburn and reflux. Sodium bicarbonate of soda, on the other hand, is known as a natural alternative to calm stomach acid, but can you take baking soda during pregnancy?

A study published in the Journal of Medical Toxicology showed that bicarbonate is an antacid capable of neutralizing the acidity of gastric juices and, therefore, improving heartburn symptoms. We’ll show you what it is, what its benefits are, and if there’s any risk in using it during pregnancy.

What is sodium bicarbonate?

Sodium bicarbonate is a white crystalline compound that has a slightly alkaline taste. It can be found in nature, dissolved in mineral springs, and its uses are so varied that they range from cooking to cleaning and personal hygiene.

Vichy salt, baking soda, or sodium hydrogen carbonate, as it’s also known, can act as an antacid, as an antiseptic that treats mouth ulcers and as a pain reliever that reduces mild sore throats. Likewise, it’s widely used by athletes looking to improve their performance during an intense training session.

This product is water soluble, making it very easy to use. People only need to dilute one teaspoon in half a glass of water. Ideally, wait until the effervescence disappears before drinking it. However, it’s always recommended to consult with a specialist, even if you aren’t pregnant.

Baking soda during pregnancy.
The uses of baking soda are varied, from treating heartburn to cleaning the home.

Benefits and advantages of using it

According to research published in the Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine, ingesting baking soda during labor increases the chances of having a vaginal delivery. This is in relation to the possibility of ending in an unscheduled cesarean section, either for chronic or emergency obstetric reasons.

The study was conducted in 300 women and 200 of them received oxytocin to speed up contractions. The other 100 received oxytocin and sodium bicarbonate.

The latter were 17% more likely to have a vaginal delivery. This is because bicarbonate may control the acidity of the uterus, facilitating natural delivery. The intrinsic mechanisms of this process aren’t clear, but it’s interesting to note that surgical interventions are contained.

Do professionals recommend baking soda during pregnancy?

Despite the above, professionals don’t recommend taking taking baking soda during pregnancy or breastfeeding. The reason is that there isn’t enough scientific evidence to rule out its possible risks to the health of the mother and baby.

This includes the consumption of antacids containing bicarbonate, since they can cause fluid accumulation and could increase blood pressure due to their high sodium content. Let us remember that hypertension associated with pregnancy is serious and can trigger preeclampsia, a condition that puts the life of the fetus at risk.

For its part, a study published in the journal Best Practice and Research Clinical Gastroenterology states that sodium bicarbonate should not be used as a remedy in pregnancy. This is due to the possible teratogenic effects it has, so it can cause fetal malformations.

Disadvantages of using it during pregnancy

As we have seen, sodium bicarbonate isn’t a recommended option during pregnancy. In fact, it has a number of disadvantages or side effects that can be listed below:

  • Increases blood pressure and promotes fluid retention: Baking soda contains salt, which can increase blood pressure and cause a number of health problems for the baby and the mother. Salt, among other things, can cause fluid retention in the legs, feet, and hands. These are edemas, capable of slowing down circulation and reducing the supply of oxygen to the tissues.
  • Gastric discomfort: This compound is also known to cause stomach discomfort, such as pain, gas, and cramps. It can also cause an increased sensation of thirst. As well as that, it can create a rebound effect, increasing acidity.
  • Drug interaction: Baking soda may be harmful if taken with certain drugs. This is the case with antifungal drugs, calcium preparations, and lithium salts. It should also be considered that the reduction of stomach acidity, if not controlled, leads to less incorporation of certain active ingredients and nutrients at the time of digestion.
  • Systemic alkalosis: Prolonged and excessive intake of sodium bicarbonate can increase the pH of the body and generate alkalosis. This is a systemic alteration that can lead to multi-organ failure and even death.
A pregnant woman.
Pregnancy acidity is to be expected due to internal organ changes. Diet is the best way to control the symptom.

What to remember about taking baking soda during pregnancy?

Although baking soda is a commonly used compound, you should restrict it during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Experts say that there isn’t enough evidence to support its consumption and rule out its risks, which include increased blood pressure, gastric discomfort, and interference with a number of important medications.

However, one study linked its consumption to an increased chance of having a vaginal delivery. Despite this, its intake should always be controlled by a professional. Similarly, if you want to use medications containing alginate sodium bicarbonate calcium carbonate.

This option is used as a treatment for reflux, to reduce symptoms and to prevent stomach acid from going into the esophagus. If your doctor does authorize it, it’s still advisable to check the package insert and not to take it for a extended period.

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  • Al-Abri, S. A. & Olson, K. R. (2013). Baking soda can settle the stomach but upset the heart: case files of the Medical Toxicology Fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco. Journal of Medical Toxicology9(3), 255-258. Disponible en: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13181-013-0300-4
  • Mahadevan, U. (2007). Gastrointestinal medications in pregnancy. Best practice & research Clinical gastroenterology21(5), 849-877. Disponible en: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17889812/
  • Wiberg-Itzel, E., Wray, S. & Åkerud, H. (2018). A randomized controlled trial of a new treatment for labor dystocia. The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine31(17), 2237-2244. Disponible en: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28587493/

The contents of this publication are for informational purposes only. At no time can they serve to facilitate or replace the diagnoses, treatments, or recommendations of a professional. Consult with your trusted specialist if you have any doubts and seek their approval before beginning any procedure.