Everyone knows soda isn't exactly a health food, but if a favorite drink — and for many women, that's Diet Coke — helps you get through the little aches and pains of pregnancy along the way, should you really deny yourself that indulgence? Knowing exactly how much Diet Coke you can have while pregnant will not only give you peace of mind, but let you indulge in that carbonated perfection.
First of all, it's important to keep in mind there are two significant components of Diet Coke to think about when it comes to pregnancy: caffeine and artificial sweeteners. According to Los Angeles OB-GYN and author of Your Pregnancy, Your Way Dr. Alison Hill, the caffeine content in Diet Coke is not high enough to be a threat to pregnancy. In an interview with Romper, Hill assures us that pregnant women can safely have 200 to 300 milligrams of caffeine every day. As there are only 42 milligrams in one can of Diet Coke, even women who drink multiple cans a day can do so without cause for concern over their caffeine intake.
But caffeine is only half of the equation. What about the effects of artificial sweeteners? Many medical professionals, including Hill, assure their patients that no harm will come from such additives, and even that diet drinks may be slightly healthier alternatives to regular sodas. But some evidence suggests otherwise.
In one 2016 research study of 3,000 women published by JAMA Pediatrics, women who drank artificially sweetened drinks every day of their pregnancy were more likely to have babies with a higher body mass index at age one. In this study, no correlation was found between women who consumed traditionally sweetened beverages daily during their pregnancy, leaving the researchers to wonder if medical advice about natural and artificial sweeteners has been misguided.
In an interview with Reuters Health, lead research author Meghan B. Azad said, "This study doesn’t prove causation yet, only that there is some link between these beverages and infant BMI. It’s not time to ban them or tell everyone not to consume them, but it does raise a question."
From the standpoint of caffeine intake, a pregnant woman can safely drink two or even three cans of Diet Coke each day. But if you're concerned about the overall effects of artificial sweeteners, it may be that you have just cause. Talk to your doctor about your eating and drinking habits to develop a plan that's right for you. And if you do decide to give up your favorite soda, there's a limitless world of possibilities yet to be tried. Or you could just grab more chocolate.