Chewing Gum During Pregnancy – Is It Safe?
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- Can You Chew Gum During Pregnancy?
- What Is Chewing Gum Made of?
- Benefits of Chewing Gum While Pregnant
- Harmful Effects of Chewing Gum During Pregnancy
- What Chewing Gums Are Safe for Pregnant Women?
- Chewing Gums Which Are Unsafe During Pregnancy
- When Should You Completely Avoid Chewing Gum?
- Precautions Pregnant Women Should Keep in Mind While Chewing Gum
Chewing gum is so common that many people wouldn’t think twice before buying a packet. It can be used as a mouth freshener, or simply to be more alert. Many pregnant women have found that chewing on flavoured gum also helps in reducing morning nausea, which is common. However, chewing gum is not a natural food item after all. It has various artificial flavours and substances, which is why it is important to know how safe or unsafe it might be for your baby.
Can You Chew Gum During Pregnancy?
On a general note, chewing gum once in a while is generally safe, as long as your pregnancy is free from complications or there is no chance of a risky delivery. If you are on a specific diet that keeps your calorie intake under control or sugar-levels at a minimum, the amount of gum might have to be reduced further.
What Is Chewing Gum Made of?
Chewing gum is manufactured artificially, which makes it evident that it will contain various chemicals and synthetic ingredients. The variety of flavours are created artificially, the colours are artificial as well, and the major constituents of the taste come from chemical sweetening agents or even corn syrup. These might seem completely unfit for a baby, but an occasional gum doesn’t seem to cause much harm.
Benefits of Chewing Gum While Pregnant
If you are pregnant, you can expect the following benefits from chewing gum.
- If you are on a diet to control your weight, chewing gum is a great way to keep those food cravings in control. The simple act of chewing on something can trick your body into feeling that food intake is taking place and reduce any cravings for some time.
- Nausea in the morning or in the evening is pretty much a constant when pregnant. There are a number of techniques, right from breathing deep to smelling a bar of soap to reduce nausea. Gum, however, contains stevia, which is directly linked to reducing the feeling of sickness. Combined with the act of chewing, your body can find some relief and get back to normalcy, further helped by the taste and smell of the gum.
- Pregnant mothers keep undergoing repeated instances of heartburn after a meal. By chewing on gum, the saliva production in the mouth increases, which finds its way into the stomach and helps in countering any residual stomach acid.
Harmful Effects of Chewing Gum During Pregnancy
While there are benefits, chewing gum during pregnancy also comes with its own caveats.
- The artificially sweetened gums and flavours can be directly responsible for causing dental issues and can be quite an irritation during pregnancy.
- Sorbitol is a widely-used sweetener in chewing gum, which is also responsible for inflation of the gut. At times, this could affect the foetus and cause a restriction in its normal growth.
- Certain gums also contain sucralose, which is linked with causing harmful effects related to diabetes.
- The constant act of chewing can weaken the cartilage muscles of the mouth that are present to cushion the jaw from any impact. If they get damaged, there will be a constant pain in the mouth.
- In certain mothers having phenylketonuria, the aspartame chemical present in chewing gum can directly affect the foetus and bring more harm.
- For mothers who use nicotine gum as an alternative to stop smoking for the baby’s benefit, it is necessary to know that nicotine gum is not a healthy choice either. Nicotine is the core addictive and if it reaches the baby’s blood, it can be responsible for cardiological problems later in life.
What Chewing Gums Are Safe for Pregnant Women?
Here are some chewing gums that are deemed safe during pregnancy.
1. Gums with xylitol as a constituent
Many popular brands contain an alcohol-molecule of a sugar termed as xylitol. If this is the core component, then the gum is safe for pregnant women in decent amounts.
2. Gums with aspartame as a sweetener
Aspartame is a sweetener used in many chewing gums, although it doesn’t provide any nutrition since it is artificial. Only in cases where the mother has PKU are such chewing gums highly advised against. This is primarily due to the body’s inability in breaking down phenylalanine, present in the aspartame, which causes it to be stored in the body and start affecting the baby adversely.
3. Gums that have sucralose as a sweetener
Just like aspartame, sucralose is another artificial sweetening agent that contains no calories and is found in many chewing gum brands. It is beneficial since it doesn’t affect the sugar levels in the blood and maintains health as it is.
4. Gums containing nicotine as a constituent
Though these are never recommended as recreational chewing gums, they are used by mothers to counter their need for smoking. Although it might help increase the weight of the baby, the presence of nicotine should always be kept to a minimal.
Chewing Gums Which Are Unsafe During Pregnancy
The following chewing gums should not be chewed if you are pregnant.
1. Gums with saccharine as a constituent
There have been many controversies around this ingredient since many food organisations deem it safe, but actual results have produced exceptions. Even though found in many food items and drinks, once inside the body, saccharine can very easily reach the foetus via the placenta, and could possibly harm the growth of the child.
2. Gums with sorbitol present in them
Sorbitol does have sweetening properties, but those are accompanied by its nature as a laxative. Consuming such chewing gums could even cause diarrhoea and other intestinal issues. At times, it is known to absorb nutrients and prevent them from reaching the foetus, too.
When Should You Completely Avoid Chewing Gum?
If you can identify with the following, you should not be chewing gum at all.
- If you have elevated sugar levels due to the onset of pregnancy-induced diabetes, you should avoid chewing gum.
- If doctors have deemed your body to be resistant to insulin, sweetened chewing gum should be totally restricted at all costs.
- Common diabetes such as diabetes mellitus requires sugar levels to stay absolutely within the safe range throughout pregnancy. Chewing gum could fluctuate these levels and create complications.
Precautions Pregnant Women Should Keep in Mind While Chewing Gum
The following precautionary measures are recommended for pregnant women before and after chewing gum.
- Floss after chewing the gum.
- Stop chewing any gum one month prior to the due date.
- Check the constituents of the chewing gum carefully.
- Make sure you don’t swallow the gum at any cost.
- Opt for unsweetened gum if possible.
- Avoid gums that have menthol or mint flavours in them.
- Chew gums in moderation.
- Stay away from nicotine gums in case of liver or kidney issues.
- Maintain dental health by brushing your teeth regularly.
- Talk to your doctor before opting for any kind of chewing gum.
On a basic level, it is best to stay away from chewing gum when you are pregnant. For mothers that find the benefit in the reduction of morning sickness, the same can be obtained by making use of other techniques and natural fragrances that are much safer and resolve the issue without complications.