Diet and nutrition are a big focus during pregnancy. Everything you consume during those nine months provides nutrients for you and your baby as well.
When the occasional sweet tooth arises, artificial sweeteners may seem like an excellent option. After all, many of these sugary substitutes don’t have any calories at all, and maintaining a healthy weight throughout pregnancy—besides the normal 25 to 35 pounds women should expect to gain—is very important for the health of the mother and child.
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Before diving into why you may want to skip the artificial sweeteners, it’s important to know which options are and are not safe for pregnant women, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Sweeteners that ARE safe during pregnancy:
- Stevia—A sweetener often used in soft drinks and juices.
- Sunett®—This sweetener is found in baked goods, frozen desserts, puddings and beverages.
- NutraSweet®—This one can be found in gelatins, desserts, breakfast cereals, chewing gum, dairy products and beverages.
- Splenda®—A non-caloric sweetener approved for use in baked goods, non-alcoholic beverages, chewing gum, coffee, frostings, syrups, teas and juices.
Sweeteners that are NOT safe during pregnancy:
- Saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low®)—While studies still remain unclear, it’s believed that saccharin could have negative impacts on fetal tissue.
- Cyclamate—Cyclamate is currently banned in the United States but can still be accessed elsewhere.
Moderation Is Key
So, the sweeteners in the “FDA approved” list are fair game, right? Well, maybe not.
While it’s true that the occasional artificial sweetener can help prevent unhealthy weight gain from regular, calorie-filled sugars, one of the largest concerns with these sweeteners is the lack of nutritional value. Filling up on a diet soda and sweet foods will provide neither you nor your baby with nutrients that are crucial during pregnancy. In fact, regular sugars found in fruits, for example, actually contain numerous vitamins and minerals that are important for a healthy pregnancy.