When the bouts of morning or evening sickness make you feel nauseated and jittery, you are often tempted to get relief, even if temporarily, by chewing some flavored gum. However, before indulging your cravings for chewing gum, stop to think about how safe it may be for you and your baby.
Can you chew gums while pregnant?
Pregnant mothers can have chewing gums in moderate amounts unless they have a high-risk pregnancy. Those under any dietary restrictions like a low-calorie or sugar-free diet should also watch the amount of gum intake.
Can chewing gums be good for you during pregnancy?
- Studies have shown it to help control excessive food cravings, a common thing during pregnancy.
- Gums, particularly cinnamon, ginger, or mint flavor, act as an effective remedy for morning sickness and nausea.
- It is said to be beneficial for lessening acid reflux and heartburn as it helps reduce acid in the esophagus.
What gums are safe to chew during pregnancy?
Most sugar-free gums contain artificial sweeteners that may be nutritive (with calories) and non-nutritive (without calories). Sugarless gums having nutritive sweeteners, including honey, fructose, dextrose, and sucrose, as well as sugar alcohols like xylitol, are considered safe during pregnancy as they are less likely to cause weight gain.
However, women with insulin resistance or gestational diabetes need to limit their intake of gums containing nutritive sweeteners or consult a doctor beforehand.
Gums with both nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners are considered safe when taken in moderation, with no evidence of any harm caused by non-nutritive sweeteners on pregnant women. Though more research is needed in this regard, here are some chewing gums that are reasonably safe during this time:
1. Gums containing xylitol
Brands like Orbit, Stride, and Trident have the sugar alcohol xylitol as their component, which is safe when taken in measured amounts.
2. Gums containing aspartame
This artificial nonnutritive sweetener, being FDA-approved, is recommended for pregnant women.
However, women suffering from phenylketonuria or PKU, a rare genetic disorder, should refrain from eating gums containing aspartame. In these conditions, the body cannot break down the amino acid phenylalanine present in aspartame, resulting in a build-up that may affect the fetus.
3. Gums containing sucralose (Splenda)
A calorie-free sweetener, certified safe by FDA during pregnancy, usually has no adverse effects on blood sugar levels.
4. Gums with nicotine
Expectant mothers making a conscious attempt to quit smoking often resort to nicotine gums. A study even showed them to be possibly beneficial, helping to increase the baby’s birth weight and gestational age. However, avoid overusing it to prevent any harmful outcome.
What gums to avoid
1. Gums containing saccharine
Though the FDA acknowledges it as safe, many controversies have stemmed regarding its utility in foods and beverages. Individual studies also show that saccharines reach the fetus through the placenta, increasing the risk of harm.
2. Gums containing sorbitol
Because of its laxative nature, this nutritive sweetener harms the stomach, resulting in diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems, leading to dehydration. It is even said to come in the way of nutrient absorption. Hence gums with sorbitol may be best avoided during your nine-month stint.
The adverse effects brought about by an extremely high intake of sorbitol came into light with the instances of two patients who had reported severe abdominal pain, weight loss, and chronic diarrhea after consuming chewing gum containing this natural sweetener regularly.
Is swallowing chewing gum dangerous when pregnant
If you happen to gulp down a piece of chewing gum mistakenly, then do not panic. Like any other undigested food, it would pass through your stool.
During pregnancy, every dietary change calls for a doctor’s consultation. It is the same when chomping on your favorite Extra or Orbit gum. Moreover, check your cravings, as chewing too many gums may bring unpleasant consequences for you and your baby.
Dr. Mashiach has completed his MD at the Sackler School of Medicine, TAU; specialization in gynecology at the Lis Maternity and Women’s Hospital, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center; fellowship in Endoscopy at the Polyclinique de I’Hotel-Dieu, Universite d’Auvergne, Clermont, France.
He is a Senior Physician, Director of the Department of Gynecology, which provides routine and preventative care services to its patients and a full range of gynecological surgical procedures for adequately managing its patients with benign gynecologic disorders.
He offers advanced care in all gynecological subspecialties such as Urogynecology, Colposcopy, Fetal Loss Clinic, and Post Menopausal Clinic.