The browser you are using is too old for our website. Please visit www.aptaclub.ie from Chrome and you will be able to browse normally.

Pregnancy

      The role of sugar during pregnancy

      Sugar In Pregnancy

      The role of sugar during pregnancy

      SWEET TALK

      See how sugar affects your and your baby

      If you have a sweet tooth, sugary foods can be hard to resist. But with very little nutritional value, they have little to no benefit as part of your pregnancy diet. Naturally sweet alternatives are a much healthier option. Learn how sugar can affect you and your baby during pregnancy, and read ideas for healthy sweet snacks that provide essential nutrients too.

      Sugar and your pregnancy diet

      Although many of us enjoy a little sweetness in our diet, sugar and sugary foods contain very few useful nutrients for you or your developing baby.

      Most sugary foods and drinks are made with sucrose, otherwise known as table sugar. This form of sugar releases energy quickly, causing blood glucose to spike and triggering a rapid release of insulin to absorb it. You’ve probably experienced the boost of a sugar rush, which is generally followed by a dramatic slump in energy. Rather than keeping you going throughout the day, this process can leave you feeling more tired than you were to begin with.

      Sugary foods contain very few useful nutrients for you or your developing baby.

      A low-sugar intake helps to keep your blood sugar more stable, along with your resulting energy levels. During pregnancy this is more likely to result in a healthier pregnancy weight gain, reduce your risk of gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia, and may help to reduce the risk of your baby becoming overweight later in life.

      This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy anything sweet. A healthier approach is to limit sugary foods in pregnancy and better still, replace them with naturally sweet nutritious alternatives.

      Understanding gestational diabetes

      Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes specific to pregnancy that tends to develop sometime after 20 weeks. It occurs when the body can’t produce enough insulin to regulate the level of glucose in the blood.

      The condition has been connected to higher birth weight babies, but can often be successfully managed through a low-sugar diet to minimise any associated pregnancy or birth complications.

      If your midwife thinks you are at a higher risk of gestational diabetes, you’ll probably be offered a glucose tolerance test (GTT) at around 28 weeks.

      Factors that can increase your risk include:

      • Previously giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9.9lbs
      • Having gestational diabetes in the past
      • Having a grandparent, parent or sibling with diabetes
      • Being of south Asian, black Caribbean or Middle Eastern origin

      Maintaining a healthy pregnancy weight through a low-sugar diet and regular exercise can help to minimise your likelihood of developing the condition.

      High sugar foods provide empty calories – energy with very little nutritional value.

      Choosing healthier alternatives to sugary foods

      While sweet, sugary foods can be tempting, cakes, pastries, biscuits and sugary drinks should ideally be reserved as occasional treats. It’s better for both you and your baby to avoiding eating too much sugar and find healthier alternatives instead.

      Fruits such as mango, pineapple and berries are good ways to satisfy a sweet craving while providing a variety of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Fresh, frozen and tinned varieties are all ideal, but be sure to choose tinned fruit in natural juice or water without added sugar to spread out your fruit intake during the day for a steadier release of the natural sugars they contain.

      Dried fruit is another great option. Try dried apricots and prunes for an extra dose of iron. When buying dried fruit, be careful to choose varieties that don’t contain any added sugar.

      NEXT STEPS

      Try these lower-sugar food swaps:

      • Carrot sticks with hummus, instead of biscuits
      • Chop fresh fruit into your cereal or porridge, instead of using sugar
      • Homemade popcorn, instead of a shop-bought sweet variety
      • Dried fruit or nuts, instead of sweets
      • Carbonated water with added fresh juice, instead of cola
      • Greek yogurt and berries, instead of ice cream

      Your baby's future health begins here

      Your baby's future health begins here

      At Aptaclub, we believe that experience helps to build resilience; that
      each new encounter, whether in pregnancy or after birth, can shape your
      baby’s future development. With our scientific expertise and one-to-one
      round the clock support, we can help you and your baby embrace tomorrow.

      Join Aptaclub

      Related articles

      Questions about feeding and nutrition?

      Our nutritionists and feeding advisors are always on hand to talk about feeding your baby. So if you have a question, just get in touch.

      Your privacy is important to us and therefore we would like to explain how we use cookies on this website. With your consent, we will use cookies to measure and analyse how our website is used (analytical cookies), to tailor it to your interests (personalisation cookies), and to show you relevant advertising and information (targeting cookies) we think you will like. For more information please read the cookie statement.

      Privacy Settings

      You can choose your preferences anytime for cookies and tracking. For more information please read our cookie policy.

      • Strictly necessary

        They are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services (setting your privacy preferences, logging in, filling in forms, etc.). You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work.

      • Analytical cookies

        They allow us to count visits and traffic sources, to measure and improve the performance of our site. They show us which pages are the most and least popular and how visitors move around the site. If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.

      • Personalisation cookies

        They enable website’s enhanced functionality and personalization. They may be set by us or by third parties whose services we have added to our pages. If you do not allow these cookies, some or all of these services may not function properly.

      • Targeting cookies

        They may be set through our site by our advertising partners, to build a profile of your interests and to show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.