Whether it’s a regular Coke or a diet one, sipping on soda feels like a perfect treat during pregnancy. That said, is it a great idea to quench your unhealthy cravings like that?
Usually, pregnant women are much concerned about the do’s and don’ts during their pregnancies and thereby often ask what they should avoid during the gestation period. One of their most popular queries is, ‘can you drink Coke while pregnant?’. So here is the answer, whether it’s Coke or any sweetened soft drink, indulging in soda to fulfill your craving occasionally is fine. However, making a habit of it wouldn’t be a cool idea, AT ALL.
In the following, we have discussed how Coke can affect you during pregnancy and the risks involved with consuming too much of it.
Can you Drink Diet Coke while Pregnant?
When it comes to drinking soda, specifically diet Coke during pregnancy, we cannot jump straight to any conclusion. Therefore, we first break down the primary ingredients of Coke to find out whether pregnant women can consume them or not.
Coke mainly comprises to most controversial ingredients, artificial sweeteners and caffeine. Let’s learn if they are safe enough for pregnant women.
1. Is Caffeine Safe for Pregnant Women?
Pregnancy and caffeine do not go well together as caffeine is a stimulant known for increasing blood pressure and heart rate.
Not just that, caffeine is also a diuretic. That means you need to pee more often than usual. This condition causes loss of excess water and eventually leads to dehydration.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, dehydration in pregnant women can lead to serious complications, including low amniotic fluid, neural tube defects, and pre-mature labor in worse cases.
Additionally, caffeine can affect the fetus’s movements and sleep patterns when it reaches your womb through the placenta.
Some researchers have also linked caffeine consumption with low birth weights and even miscarriage – but there are conflicting theories as well on the other side of the fence, making it difficult to say anything for sure.
The best way to end this confusion is by limiting your caffeine intake, as it is a safe bet for both mother and the fetus. In fact, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that cutting down on caffeine to less than 200 gms per day is good for pregnant women.
A single can of Coke contains 34 mg. You would have to drink 4 cans to reach your daily limit.
But wait, before you stack up cartons of Coke, let’s first look at the second most important ingredient, artificial sweeteners.
2. Are artificial sweeteners safe for pregnant women?
Most convenience store instant meals like breakfast cereals, sauces, and ready-took meals have one common artificial sweetener i.e. aspartame, and diet Coke uses the same so-called low-calorie sweetener.
Current research suggests that consuming aspartame in moderate quantities wouldn’t be threatening to pregnant women and pose no risk to the fetus as well. That said, what does ‘moderate’ quantity suggest? 200 or less is fine when it comes to aspartame.
A single can of diet Coke contains almost 125gm of sugar. That means you should not exceed your safe limit.
Not all diet sodas come packed with artificial sweeteners. Here is the rundown of some other artificial sweeteners that you may find in different soft drinks.
- Sucralose: Sucralose is another type of sugar replacement that is commonly used in soft drinks. However, it is considered safe to consume during pregnancies.
- Saccharin: Saccharin is a non-nutritive, white crystalline sugar alternative used in sodas. While this one doesn’t contain many calories and carbs, it enters the womb through the placenta and poses a serious threat to the baby.
- Stevia: Stevia is another sugar substitute that contains fewer calories. It is obtained naturally from a plant and considered less dangerous. It is FDA approved and appears to be fine for pregnant women.
What about diet soda? – is it safe during pregnancy?
Anything in excess is poison – While having diet soda might sound like a better option, consuming one on a daily basis may carry risks.
A study conducted on 60,000 pregnant women concluded that those who regularly drank diet soda had 38% more chances of delivering prematurely. In comparison, those who had four per day were at 80% higher chances.
Another study on 30,000 pregnant women proved that those who regularly had diet sodas were more likely to deliver overweight babies than those who stayed away from it.
Side Effects of exceeding the recommended limit of Coke
When a mom-to-be drinks Coke, it reaches the fetus through the placenta in an undigested form and is absorbed by the baby completely.
According to the studies, caffeine stays in a woman’s body for up to 11 hours and, unsurprisingly, for 100 hours in the fetus’s system as they lack the necessary enzymes to break down.
Exceeding the suggested limit of Coke can lead to the following side effects for pregnant women.
- Dilated pupils
- Opening of bronchial tubes
- Elevated heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Insulin discharge from the liver into the blood
- Tightened muscles
- Higher metabolism
- Reduced fertility
- Miscarriage (in some cases)
Also, for the fetus, it could lead to
- Birth defects
- Premature delivery
- Low birth weight or obese
How to get away with Coke cravings?
Pregnancy comes with a lot of cravings for scrumptious foods/drinks. However, not every craving is meant to be satisfied. You have to stay vigilant about what you eat and drink during the day for the sake of your baby. And since it is not that easy to resist those carvings, we have come up with some methods that you can try to cope with them.
- Slowly reduce your caffeine intake. For instance, cut back on other sources of caffeine like tea and coffee, then gradually come to Coke.
- Look for alternative drinks that are caffeine-free
- Keep yourself refreshed and work out daily to fight the withdrawal symptoms.
- Take lots of healthy fluids.
Alternatives to Coke
Here is what you drink instead of Coke.
Smoothies are a great alternative to soft drinks. Although it lacks fizziness like sodas, it can be a great refresher. Moreover, it provides a good way to fulfill your daily nutrition intake.
Freshly squeezed lemonade
A glass of freshly squeezed lemon with a pinch of salt and some sugar would be a perfect fit to quench your cravings for soda. The best thing about lemonade is that it doesn’t contain loads of sugars and preservatives.
Springwater is the best substitute to satisfy your carbonated drinks cravings. The only difference is that they are sleeker and healthier. You can take them to work or your gyms to stay hydrated. Nowadays, companies are investing in carbonated water dispensers more to reduce the impact of cans and plastic bottles on the environment.
Coconut water is an old-school healthy alternative to sugary soda drinks. It is a natural source of electrolytes and potassium, perfect for mommy-to-be’s.
Although teas might not sound like the best substitute for sodas, they will surely help minimize your cravings for soft drinks. However, not all herbal teas are consumable for pregnant women, so check for yourselves before opting for any.
Verdict – can you drink diet Coke while pregnant?
It is fine to drink Coke or soft drink once in a while during pregnancy. However, make sure you don’t cross our suggested safe consumption limits as they are high in artificial sweeteners, caffeine, and other preservatives. While they don’t have long-term effects as suggested by some studies, it is better to be vigilant about your food and drink choices during pregnancy.