Many women wonder if it’s safe to chew gum when pregnant. What about sweeteners? Is it safe if you accidentally swallow the gum?
You can definitely enjoy some kinds of chewing gum while pregnant. Many women use gum to help with nausea. In fact, some kinds of gum may even be beneficial to your baby’s health.
Other kinds of gum are best avoided. Even though chewing gum isn’t technically a food, it still contains additives and sweeteners, not all of which are safe while pregnant.
Is It Safe to Chew Gum During Pregnancy?
Generally speaking, most kinds of chewing gum are fine when you’re pregnant, with no risks such as early delivery.
There are as many types of gum as there are reasons for using it: sugar-free gum to cut down on calories or protect teeth, nicotine gum for helping to lessen cravings for smoking, or minty gum for fresh breath.
There are also many sweeteners used in chewing gum. Understandably, you will want to know if these sweeteners are safe to consume while pregnant.
You may also be concerned about what happens if you eat or swallow gum because there’s an often repeated rumor about gum staying in your digestive tract.
If you’re thinking “help, I just accidentally ate gum” we deal with that next:
Accidentally Swallowing Gum When Pregnant
If you have swallowed or eaten gum by accident while pregnant, you don’t need to worry.
Contrary to popular belief, the gum will not stay in your digestive tract.
Just like any substance that the body can’t digest, it will work its way through your intestines and be expelled naturally (Source: Mayo Clinic).
The only instance where swallowing chewing gum could cause problems is if you were to swallow a large quantity at once, which may cause a blockage in your digestive system.
So as long as you’re not chewing several packs of gum and swallowing them all, you should be fine.
Can Chewing Gum Help with Pregnancy Nausea?
Some types of chewing gum can help with pregnancy nausea.
Gum that contains vitamin C has been used successfully by some women to help with nausea, though the results are anecdotal.
A study is in place at the moment that will determine if chewing gum with vitamin C can help reduce levels of persistent nausea, also referred to as emesis gravidarum (Source: NIH).
This is when nausea is severe, or continues right up until delivery.
Ginger has not been shown to be harmful to the fetus, so you can chew with confidence (Source: NCBI).
Be sure to check the labels to see which sweeteners are being used.
Some people actually think that chewing gum can cause nausea, but that actually isn’t the case.
This myth has persisted possibly because when we chew gum, we are taking in more air, and for some people, this can lead to gas and bloating.
This is particularly the case for chewing sugar-free gum (Source: Tufts).
Can Chewing Gum During Pregnancy Help with Heartburn?
Chewing gum will make your mouth produce more saliva, which dilutes the digestive acids in the esophagus.
This means less acid in the mouth, which is not only good news for your teeth, but also for your overall comfort, particularly if you suffer from heartburn.
Chewing sugar-free gum for around 30 minutes after eating a meal may help with heartburn (Source: Journal of Dental Research).
Once again, though, it is important to check the label of your gum to see which sweetener is being used.
There are also antacid gums on the market, but again check the label for sweeteners.
Antacids are generally perceived as safe to use during pregnancy, although in moderation, with some formulations preferable over others (Source: RHJN).
Should I Chew Sugar-Free Gum (With Sweeteners) When Pregnant?
It is a common assumption that avoiding too much sugar is preferable during pregnancy.
This does have some basis in fact, as high sugar consumption during pregnancy has been linked to higher incidences of gestational diabetes (Source: Cambridge University Press).
Sugar-free gum does have some advantages, though. If you’re chewing gum, you definitely want to prioritize sugar-free gum for the sake of your teeth.
Sugar-free gum allows the pH in your mouth to return to neutrality more quickly after eating than gum with sugar (Source: Sage).
Chewing gum after a cesarean can even help your bowels return to normal more quickly (Source: NCBI).
But you do want to make sure that the sweeteners in your gum of choice are safe to consume while pregnant.
The most common sweeteners found in chewing gum are sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, stevia, and aspartame.
All of these sweeteners are generally considered to be safe in pregnancy (Source: AP).
Popular gum brands that contain these sweeteners and are therefore OK when pregnant are:
- Center Fresh
However, recipes often change so always have a quick check of the label beforehand.
Which Gum Should I Choose During Pregnancy? Which Is Best?
There is no one chewing gum brand that stands out above all others as being the absolute best if you’re pregnant.
However, prioritize gums that are sugar-free and that contain one of the aforementioned sweeteners deemed to be safe.
If nausea is a problem for you, ginger-infused gum is a good choice.
You may also want to prioritize chewing gums that contain xylitol.
One study found that children whose mothers chewed gum containing xylitol in the last trimester of pregnancy had lower incidences of the bacteria that lead to tooth decay (Source: Sage).
If, however, you cannot tolerate FODMAPS, or if you are prone to IBS, sweeteners with very low sugar such as stevia may be better for you.
A low FODMAP diet may help to lessen IBS symptoms (Source: Karger).
And if you are prone to migraines or tension headaches, you may be best avoiding chewing gum altogether.
Some people find their headaches get worse if they chew gum (Source: NIH).
Is Nicotine Gum Safe During Pregnancy?
If you are struggling with giving up smoking while pregnant, you may want to use nicotine gum.
Nicotine gum is considered to be a better alternative than a nicotine patch if you are pregnant and wanting to give up smoking.
This is because nicotine gum delivers short bursts of small amounts of nicotine, as opposed to the constant dosage provided with a patch.
Short-term use of nicotine gum delivers significantly less nicotine to the fetus than cigarette smoking (Source: NIH).
In one study, women who chewed nicotine gum during their pregnancy gave birth to babies with a higher birth weight and gestational age than those women who smoked a similar amount but did not chew nicotine gum (Source: NCBI).
You should only turn to any Nicotine Replacement Therapy like gum if you really struggle to give it up during pregnancy.
Any nicotine products should be taken only by direction from your doctor or healthcare provider (source: NHS).
In conclusion, you can safely chew gum while pregnant, and you may even enjoy added benefits such as support with nausea or better dental health for your child.
Check the label for sweeteners, and prioritize the best brand for you.
Chew in moderation, and if you are unsure about any of the ingredients listed on the label, check with your doctor or health practitioner.