If you enjoy soda and want to avoid additional caffeine during pregnancy, you can safely enjoy a glass of ginger ale. It is a caffeine-free alternative to many caffeine-laden sodas. Ginger-ale may help you avoid the nausea and vomiting that is often associated with pregnancy. As explained by American Family Physician, ginger's antiemetic effects happen at the level of your gastrointestinal and central nervous system. Not any ginger ale will do, however. You need to find ginger ale that lists ginger as an ingredient on the label.
Ginger is a plant used in Eastern medicine to alleviate gastrointestinal distress. The University of Maryland reports that as little as 1 gram -- roughly 1/2 teaspoon -- of ginger each day is enough to reduce the incidence of morning sickness. Look for real ginger in the ingredient list of your favorite ginger ale. Real ginger ale uses roughly 3/4 cup of ginger in a 2 quart mixture.
Caffeine is a stimulant, and The March of Dimes recommends pregnant women to limit caffeine consumption to less than 200 milligrams per day, which is approximately the equivalent to one cup of coffee. Caffeine causes blood vessels to constrict, which has the potential effect of limiting blood supply to the fetus. The good news is that ginger ale is caffeine-free, so it is perfectly safe to consume in moderation during pregnancy.
The jury is currently out as to the true medicinal qualities of ginger ale to alleviate nausea. According to Dr. Chau Che of New York University, ginger extract is as effective as vitamin B-6 in reducing pregnancy-induced nausea. However, many ginger ales on the supermarket shelf contain artificial ginger flavoring. Che recommends looking for ginger ale drinks with real ginger extract listed in the ingredients.
Che does concede that artificially flavored ginger drinks do appear to have the ability to calm the stomach. Whether this is due to the carbonated water, sugars or a placebo effect is still not clear.
A 12-ounce serving of ginger ale contains 124 calories. With 31.82 grams of sugar, that means all of the calories in ginger ale come directly from sugar. MedlinePlus.com lists low blood sugar as a trigger for morning sickness. Sipping on sugary drinks may be beneficial in fighting pregnancy-induced nausea. Women at risk for gestational diabetes should discuss soda consumption with their obstetrician or dietitian. Ginger ale also contains 11 milligrams of calcium, a trace of iron and a trace of sodium, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database.
Diet Ginger Ale
Diet sodas contain artificial sweeteners. According to obstetrician Russell Turk, founder of the Riverside Obstetrics and Gynecology in Riverside, Connecticut, aspartame, which is used to sweeten most sodas on the market, is fine for pregnant women to consume in moderation. He recommends no more than one or two 12-ounce diet sodas per day. Diet sodas sweetened with sucralose are also now available. According to Turk, sucralose appears to be safe in moderation, but long-term studies are not yet available.