Nutrition is a primary factor in the health of pregnant women and their babies. An occasional diet soda is usually fine and will not affect the health of the mother or developing fetus. However, diet sodas contain artificial sweeteners and do not provide any nutritional benefits. Most types of diet soda also contain caffeine. For these reasons, pregnant women should limit their consumption to one or fewer servings per day. Talk to your doctor about the appropriate amount of diet soda for you.
The most common artificial sweetener in diet sodas is aspartame, sold under the brand names NutraSweet and Equal. Other artificial sweeteners in sodas include sucralose, rebaudioside A, or stevia, and acesulfame potassium, or Sunett. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), these sweeteners are safe for use during pregnancy. But because studies of their effects on pregnant women are limited, most doctors recommend keeping consumption in the moderate range. Saccharin has been deemed safe by the FDA, but the American Pregnancy Association recommends that pregnant women avoid it because it has been shown to cross the placenta and remain in fetal tissue.
Caffeine causes dehydration and may decrease blow flow in the placenta. The March of Dimes recommends that women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant consume no more than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day. This is equivalent to the amount in one or two small cups of coffee. Diet sodas vary considerably in their caffeine content. Some brands have no caffeine, while others may contain up to 54 milligrams in a 12-ounce serving.
Your nutritional needs increase during pregnancy, and you'll need to eat approximately 300 additional calories each day. These should come from foods high in essential vitamins, lean protein and healthy fats. One concern for diet soda drinkers is that large amounts of soda can make you feel full and take the place of the high-quality foods your body needs at this time. This is another reason to limit diet soda consumption to one can per day.
Individuals with diabetes need to monitor their sugar intake closely. Some women develop diabetes for the first time during pregnancy, a condition known as gestational diabetes. Your health care provider will check your glucose levels to determine how your body is metabolizing sugar. Diabetics need to limit sugary beverages, such as regular sodas, although an occasional diet soda containing nonnutritive sugar is usually acceptable.
If your caffeine consumption from all sources, including diet soda, coffee, tea and foods, is greater than 200 milligrams per day, consider switching to decaffeinated versions of your favorite beverages. Staying well-hydrated will help curb your craving for diet soda and will also reduce symptoms of caffeine withdrawal. Aim for 8 glasses of water per day. A good alternative to plain water is club soda with a splash of orange or cranberry juice. Fruit juices and milk are other healthy beverage choices.