If you’ve been on the internet recently, you may have noticed a video going around about a couple announcing they are expecting by way of the new “Share a Coke” campaign. In case no one has posted it to your Facebook page, you can watch it here:
For many who have watched it, they first noticed how original this concept was to publicize a pregnancy. For others, they observed the high production value of the video.
For me? The first thing I thought was, “You shouldn’t drink that much Diet Coke when you’re pregnant!”
As a proponent of trying not to judge other parents, I realize that this feels like a very critical perspective on a video intended to be a celebration of a momentous event in both of these people’s lives. The thing is, I just found the fact that they were drinking Diet Coke to be incredibly distracting.
I was not alone. As you can see in the comments section of the video, and in talking to some friends, many others shared my reaction.
As someone who doesn’t want anyone else to tell me what to do with my own body, why was I feeling this negativity?
Maybe it was jealousy.
As a lover of Diet Coke, I was jealous that this pregnant woman was able to so easily enjoy copious amounts of the tasty elixir. While I was pregnant, Diet Coke was the food and beverage item I probably missed the most. I “chose” to miss it because in my mind, if I was told to limit my intake of caffeine and artificial sweeteners by my doctor, then I would just cut both out completely. I, personally, couldn’t live with the guilt that if, God forbid, something went wrong in the pregnancy, I would look back at those Diet Coke indulgences and wonder, “What if…”
Is this neurotic? Yes. Is it a bit extreme? Maybe. But that’s how I needed to deal with my own pregnancy.
OK, so maybe I was jealous of her free-spirited Diet Coke intake.
And maybe I was jealous that this video was getting views in the millions, while my pregnancy announcement video had views in the hundreds:
(Even though both included Steve Carell’s voice.)
But it was more than jealousy. It was concern. I don’t think the fact that this video used Diet Coke is as bad as using beer cans or personalized cigarette boxes or meth. Definitely not meth.
But caffeine is still a drug. And it’s something to be used with caution, especially when it comes to a baby. And as for aspartame (the artificial sweetener found in Diet Coke), that’s not great for an unborn baby’s regimen either.
You may be wondering about the science behind these claims. Well, from the American Cancer Society web site, the FDA’s ADI (acceptable daily intake) of aspartame is 50 mg/kg of body weight per day.
“This would be 3,750 milligrams per day for a typical adult weighing 75 kilograms (about 165 pounds), far more than most adults take in daily. A 12 ounce can of diet soda usually contains about 192 milligrams of aspartame and a packet of the tabletop sweetener contains about 35mg. An adult weighing 165 pounds would have to drink more than 19 cans of diet soda a day or consume more than 107 packets to go over the recommended level.”
Reading that you can drink over 19 cans of diet soda a day just makes me think about how much you’d have to pee.
Anyway, the ADI is also 100 times less than the smallest amount that might cause health concerns. So the couple would seem to be fine, right? I mean, other than the fact that half of their day would be drinking Diet Coke and the other half would be in the loo.
As for the fetus? Well, there hasn’t been conclusive findings on the impact artificial sweetener has on the unborn baby, however, most medical professionals would suggest limiting your aspartame intake to a packet (Equal, Nutrasweet, etc.) or can of diet soda to a once in a while treat.
From the American Pregnancy Association website, “According to the Food and Drug Administration(FDA), Aspartame is safe for use during pregnancy and lactation. It is recommended to limit consumption to a moderate level.”
In this one video, it would seem Ms. McGillicuddy did go beyond that “moderate level” limit. But “moderate level” is pretty subjective.
What about the caffeine? Well, quoting from the March of Dimes website, “Yes. During pregnancy, caffeine passes through the placenta and reaches your baby. Caffeine may decrease blood flow to the placenta, which may cause problems for your baby.”
For me, “may cause problems for your baby,” would be enough to steer clear from caffeine for nine months. But again, that’s just me.
It does go on to suggest that expecting mothers should limit their daily caffeine intake to 200 mg/day.
There are 45.6 milligrams of caffeine in a 12 oz. can of diet coke. So, in theory, if you’re just calculating based on caffeine, a pregnant woman could have four Diet Cokes in one day. Did Ms. McGillicuddy drink more than her daily share? I don’t know; with the editing, it was hard to determine if we are supposed to believe they finished the box or not.
And at the end of the day, is it something I should be concerned about? Maybe I should be concerned and maybe I shouldn’t, but there it is. I am.
So, while the intention of the video was endearing, it did leave me with an “artificially” sweet taste in my mouth.