Is It Safe To Drink Coke During Pregnancy?

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Most women may be apprehensive about drinking coke during pregnancy because they are unsure of its safety. Coke is a carbonated drink with caffeine and sugar. It does not have much nutritional value.

Drinking coke might not be hazardous to health if you stick to consuming the recommended amount of caffeine. Also, the drink does not have any nutrition, and the caffeine present in coke becomes difficult to be digested by the fetus. Therefore, excess consumption of coke might lead to side effects.

Read the post to learn about the safety of consuming coke during pregnancy, the permitted dosage of caffeine for pregnant women, and the side effects of drinking excess coke.

What Is Coke And How Is It Made?

Wikipedia defines Cola as a beverage that has been carbonated and flavored. Traditionally, the Cola constituted of caffeine from Kola Nut, cocaine from Cola leaves, and vanilla as the flavoring agent. However, now cocaine usage has been stopped, and even flavoring extends beyond the vanilla flavor. And that’s the reason you now see all varieties of drinks available in the market.

Preparation of Coke is pretty simple, the machines fill the clean bottle with water, and then sugar is added. The machine then mixes the sugar water with a secret formula [whose recipe, ingredients, and the proportion are known to very few companies] and is topped with some caramel coloring. Finally, carbon dioxide is added to the mixture, to make the drink fizzy and then bottled up (1).

Nutritional Value Of Coke

So Coke mainly consists of

Let’s look at the sugar and caffeine value of some of the common drinks (2):

Drink NameSugar Content [g/100ml]Caffeine Content [mg]
Coca-Cola [Classic]11.134.0
Pepsi [Classic]11.437.5
Sprite10.30.0
Mountain Dew12.055.0

Is drinking coke during pregnancy Safe?

To answer it in one line, yes it is safe if you restrict the consumption of caffeine up to 300mg per day. But limiting does not guarantee that its side effects are now nil. Mostly caffeine, takes a bit longer in getting digested, and as pregnancy progresses, even the breaking down of caffeine slows down, exposing the fetus to ill effects of caffeine.

Drinking coke during pregnancy might not be a good option as it does not offer any nutritional value, and the calories which you keep on sipping are considered to be empty calories. And we all know, how important it for a pregnant woman to take a balanced and nutritious diet. So limiting the dose is crucial.

The Side Effects Of Exceeding The Permissible Limit Of Coke

Caffeine present in the coke, which is present in a woman’s body in the indigestible form, reaches through the placenta, and and the baby absorbs it completely. Studies have shown that the body of a pregnant woman, caffeine is present up to 11 hours. But the fetus can retain it until 100 hours, for the simple reason that they are developing babies and don’t have necessary enzymes to detoxify and break down caffeine.

For the pregnant woman, if she is exceeding the daily measure of coke, it could result in:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Opening of bronchial tubes
  • Increase in heart rate
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Discharge of insulin into the blood stream from the liver
  • Tightened muscles
  • Higher metabolism
  • Could result in Miscarriage
  • Reduced Fertility
  • Diuretic in nature and makes our body lose water.
  • Insomnia

Also, for the fetus it has an adverse effect as it could lead to:

What Are The Sweeteners And Preservatives Added To Coke?

Don’t be fooled by Zero sugar or diet coke labels which give the impression that they don’t have sugar. Most of the aerated soft drinks comes soft drinks come with artificial sugars. And studies have shown that these sweeteners, flavoring agents, preservatives are not advisable for a pregnant woman.

Some of the commonly used sweeteners are:

  • Aspartame (NutraSweet) – It is a safe sweetener, but you should consume it in a moderate quantity. In fact, studies have shown that a pregnant woman should avoid this sweetener as it could also cause depression or chronic pain.
  • Sucralose (Splenda) – This is just a modified version of table sugar and pretty much safe during pregnancy (1).
  • Saccharin (Sweet and Low) – This sweetener can cross the placenta and is considered to be safe for the baby but again you should be taking it in a moderate quantity.

Do You Wish To Get Away With Coke Cravings?

Pregnancy makes a woman crave many things, but she needs to know which things are safe to indulge in. It is not easy to kick the habit! But you need to remember you need to cut it down for the sake of your baby. So look out for these options as an alternative, and if you still feel the urge, sip it and keep it within safe limits. Drink it occasionally and not regularly.

  • Cut the caffeine slowly. Don’t just hash it.
  • Look for options which have no caffeine like Decaf Coffee.
  • Exercise, to fight against the withdrawal symptoms and keep yourself refreshed.
  • Drink lots of water and healthy fluids.

Food Items To Try Out:

  • Fresh fruit juice
  • Lime water
  • Lassi [sweet and salted]
  • Aam pana or raw mango water
  • Coconut water
  • Homemade smoothies

Experts suggest that it is best to limit caffeine intake to 300 mg a day during pregnancy to avoid the risk of adverse effects. Hence, you may occasionally grab a glass of coke during pregnancy but not make it a part of your daily routine. Moreover, consuming higher amounts of caffeinated beverages could put you and your baby at risk of pregnancy and birth complications such as preeclampsia and preterm delivery. Nevertheless, it would be great to try out healthier alternatives for caffeine while pregnant.

References:

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Dr. Neharika Malhotra

(MD)
Dr. Neharika Malhotra is a practicing obstetrician at Malhotra Nursing and Maternity Home and an infertility consultant at Rainbow IVF, Agra. She has more than 12 years of experience in Ob/Gyn.  Dr. Malhotra is an active member of RCOG, FOGSI, and several other institutions and has been the youngest chairperson of FOGSI. In addition, she has published books, articles, chapters... more

Ria Saha

Ria is a techie-turned-writer and writes articles on health, with special emphasis on nutrition. She did her B.Tech from West Bengal University of Technology and was previously associated with IBM as SAP ABAP technical consultant. She moved into freelance content writing in 2013 and worked for various websites including MomJunction, Brainpulse Technologies, and Emarketz India.