Side Effects of Eating Sugar When Pregnant – How Much Sugar In Pregnancy Is Too Much? 

Everything consumed during pregnancy plays a key role in the health of the baby and mother. Pregnant women sometimes get lost in their cravings and consume too much of foods that are harmful to their health. One of such cravings is sugar. Here we will be looking at how to stop eating sugar and the side effects of eating sugar when pregnant.

Based on research, a high consumption of sugar during pregnancy can lead to the development of gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, and pre-term births. While there are sugar alternatives for pregnant women, this article will be looking at healthy consumption, what amount is considered too much, its effects, and how to stop.


Side Effects of Eating Sugar When Pregnant

Does eating sugar during pregnancy affect the baby? Sugar may appear to be a simple sugary substance but it could have very serious effects on the health of the developing foetus and mother. Below are some of the possible side effects of eating sugar when pregnant.

Increased risk of gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that develops specifically during pregnancy. This happens when the blood sugar levels rise above normal. Consuming an excessive amount of sugar can heighten the chances of developing gestational diabetes. And, although gestational diabetes often resolves after pregnancy, developing this condition raises the chances of having type 2 diabetes later on in life.

Weight gain and obesity

The consumption of sugary foods and beverages high in sugar can lead to unnecessary weight gain during pregnancy. Excessive weight gain raises the chances of a birth complication and the possibility of obesity in both mother and child. Obesity could also lead to other serious health issues like the development of gestational hypertension, pre-eclampsia, and an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases after the pregnancy.

Nutrient deficiencies

Pregnancy is a delicate phase and the body can be very demanding of particular nutrients. The excessive intake of high-sugar containing foods can override the appetite for nutrient-rich foods which are needed by the body.

This can lead to nutritional deficiencies as sugary foods tend to be low in the essential nutrients needed by the body. Nutrients like minerals, fiber, and vitamins are needed for the proper growth and development of the baby. The absence of these nutrients could impair growth, development, and general health.

Increased risk of dental problems

Dental problems can also occur due to increased sugar intake. This is due to the fact that sugar is a good nutrient source for the bacteria in the mouth. This can lead to poor dental health, tooth decay, and gum disease. Impact seen on the mother’s oral health can potentially harm the baby’s dental development as well.

Higher likelihood of cravings and unhealthy eating habits

Although cravings are very normal and even common during pregnancy, eating sugar when pregnant predisposes you to an unhealthy cycle of cravings and unhealthy eating patterns. This can make sticking to the right diet difficult resulting in nutritional deficiencies.

Increased risk of pre-term birth

Pre-term births refers to delivery of a baby before the gestation period reaches full term. This form of delivery has been linked to a couple of complications and challenges with development. Research shows that taking high amounts of sugar during pregnancy increases the risk of a pre-term birth.

Pre-term birth, which is the delivery of a baby before 37 weeks of gestation, is associated with various complications and developmental challenges. Consuming high amounts of sugar during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk of pre-term birth.

Sugar consumption leads to hormonal imbalances that alter the delicate environment needed for gestation to reach full-term. Such births may result in respiratory problems, developmental issues, and other health problems for the newborn.

Elevated risk of pre-eclampsia

Pre-eclampsia is a condition characterized by high blood pressure and fluid retention. This condition can lead to other issues like premature births, restrictions to growth, and more serious complications. High sugar consumption has been linked to an increased chance of developing pre-eclampsia. Excessive sugar consumption is believed to be a contributory factor to inflammation, oxidative stress, and impaired blood vessel function.

Impaired foetal development

Fluctuations in the blood sugar level of the mother, caused by sugar consumption, can affect the baby’s growth and development. The baby produces insulin beyond the normal level to balance the heightened blood sugar levels in the mother. This leads to to a high birth weight in babies. High birth weight babies face a higher risk of injuries and complications during delivery.

Read Also: What Happens If You Ignore Pregnancy Cravings?


How Much Sugar In Pregnancy Is Too Much?

How do I know if I’m eating too much sugar while pregnant? This question is very common among pregnant women as knowing the right amount of sugar helps to ensure the safety of the mother and the baby.

Eating sugar while pregnant is not completely bad as it also contributes to the energy needed for bodily function and other activities. A little amount of sugar is not entirely bad, the trouble lies in excessive consumption.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that women keep their daily sugar intake at no more than 25 grams (6 teaspoons) to ensure safety and optimal health. This refers to both naturally occurring sugars and added sugars. However, during pregnancy, the new changes should also be factored in. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests that pregnant women should not consume more than 200 milligrams of caffeine on a daily basis.

Sticking to this recommendation would help avert or reduce the likelihood of many sugar related pregnancy and child birth issues. Sugar consumption can be monitored by keeping a daily log of sugar consumed. This would guide you on when to stop. You can try logging your sugar intake into a dedicated notebook or a nutrition app.

Also, making healthier food choices will go a long way. Going for natural sources of sugar like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is healthier than processed foods and beverages. Before buying processed foods, it is essential to read the labels and its sugar content. This will help you make the right choice and carefully monitor your sugar intake.

If you are having trouble with deciding what foods to go with, consider working with a registered dietitian. They would help you create a comprehensive diet plan to meet your pregnancy nutritional needs. This would help you get the right balance of nutrients and limits for sugar consumption. By sticking to the right diet, you would be safeguarding your health and your baby’s well-being.


What Does High Blood Sugar Do To Baby While Pregnant?

High blood sugar during pregnancy can cause several issues for the developing baby. Here are some of the impacts of high blood sugar on the baby:


Macrosomia refers to a condition where a baby grows to be larger than average. This is associated with high blood sugar levels in the mother. The baby’s size often leads to delivery complications like shoulder dystocia, where the baby’s shoulders get stuck in the birth canal.

Respiratory problems

Babies born to mothers with high blood sugar levels have a higher chance of experiencing respiratory distress syndrome. This condition affects the way the baby breathe and in some cases, special medical care may be needed.

Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)

Low blood sugar is an after birth problem that babies born to mothers with high blood sugar levels may face. This often requires close monitoring and management to avoid further complications.

Increased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes

Studies have shown that children who had exposure to high blood sugar levels in the womb are at a higher risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes.


Can Sugar Make You Feel Sick In Pregnancy?

Eating sugar while pregnant if done occasionally may not cause any significant health risk. It’s eating too much of sugar that can make you feel sick. Rapid increase in the blood sugar levels can lead to elongated feelings of fatigue, nausea, and dizziness.

Also, sugar can affect the intricate balance between the gut and the gut bacteria. This can lead to digestive problems like gas, constipation, and bloating. These disturbances can cause significant discomfort in pregnant women.

High sugar foods can also cause immune system suppression making pregnant women more susceptible to infections and illnesses. This immune system suppression can make fighting common ailments difficult leading to an overall feeling of unwell.


How To Stop Eating Sugar While Pregnant

The decision to carry a pregnancy and bring a child to the world is a huge one that comes with some sacrifices. Sometimes, these sacrifices include not eating sugar while pregnant. If your sugar levels are already high or you are looking to avoid raising your blood sugar levels, you will find the following tips helpful:

Read labels

Reading food labels will help you identify foods that contain too much sugar. You can check the quantity of ingredients like fructose, corn syrup, glucose, sucrose, and other added sugars.

Go for whole foods

Whole foods are nutrient-rich and are healthier alternatives to processed foods. Whole foods include fresh fruits, lean proteins, whole grains, and vegetables.

Choose natural sweeteners

It’s okay to desire sweeteners but natural sweeteners are more nutritionally balanced. You can use natural sweeteners like maple syrup or honey as alternatives to refined sugar. However, even natural sweeteners should be consumed with moderation.

Limit sugary beverages

Sugary drinks like fruit juices and soda can spike your sugar levels. Instead, go for options like herbal teas, infused water, or water.

Plan healthy snacks

Lots of snacks contain a high amount of sugar. Preparing snacks and storing for when your cravings set in can help control the consumption of high sugar containing snacks. Fresh fruits, nuts, and yogurts are examples of healthy snack options.

Read Also: Best Breakfast Idea for Pregnancy


Conclusion on: Side Effects of Eating Sugar When Pregnant

Excessive sugar consumption during pregnancy has lots of side effects. It puts the life of the mother and baby at risk. Substituting high sugar containing foods with healthy alternatives will help preserve the health of both mother and baby. It’s advisable to work closely with your doctor or a nutrition professional to help you navigate this.