In most cases, having the occasional diet soda during months of breastfeeding should not cause problems for you or your baby. You should limit your intake, however, to one or two per week, and try to drink them immediately after you've fed your baby so that you don't pass on the caffeine and chemicals to your baby. If your baby is fussy when feeding after you've had diet soda, you may want to eliminate the soda.
Diet Soda and Weight Gain
The "Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine" found that most diet sodas and other diet products contain the low-calorie sweeteners sucralose, acesulfame potassium, or aspartame. Unfortunately, the low calorie count doesn't mean these drinks don't affect you — surprisingly, diet soda drinkers still gain significant amounts of body fat. This is believed to be because drinking diet soda does not complete the "reward" pattern of eating: you get the sweetness without the calories, so your brain feels cheated, and will trigger you to seek other satisfying snacks. If you are trying to manage your weight after birth, it would be sensible to avoid diet sodas.
Diet Soda and Depression
The American Academy of Neurology released research in 2013 which found that drinking diet soda was associated with a 30-percent increase in the development of depression. If you had a tendency toward depression before pregnancy, or if you are experiencing postnatal depression, you may want to avoid drinking diet sodas. Although the effect may not be profound, no reason exists to exacerbate the problem while also managing the demands of breastfeeding and caring for your baby.
Diet Soda and Diabetes
A study conducted by the American Association of Diabetes found that daily consumption of diet soda was strongly linked to the development of metabolic syndrome and type two diabetes. In fact, your risk increases by 36 percent and 76 percent respectively if you are drinking a diet soda every day. If you've experienced metabolic issues in the past, had gestational diabetes, or have a family history of type two diabetes, you should limit your intake of diet soda while breastfeeding. Your body needs to be as healthy as possible to keep producing high-quality milk for your baby.
What to Drink Instead
If you feel confident that your body will cope with the occasional diet soda while breastfeeding, let yourself have one on occasion. Otherwise, focus on drinking plenty of water, fresh or fortified fruit juice, tea, moderate amounts of coffee, or milk. Try to avoid adding lots of sugar to tea and coffee, and choose non-sweetened juices. Keep a drink with you when you are breastfeeding to avoid becoming thirsty or dehydrated.
- Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine: Gain Weight By "Going Diet"? Artificial Sweeteners and the Neurobiology of Sugar Cravings
- American Academy of Neurology: Hold the Diet Soda? Sweetened Drinks Linked to Depression, Coffee Tied to Lower Risk
- American Diabetes Association: Diet Soda Intake and Risk of Incident Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA
- NHS: Healthy Lifestyle and Breastfeeding