With its bold, tart flavor, cranberry juice can be an acquired taste; however, many women experience an intense craving for this juice during pregnancy. Is it normal to crave cranberry juice while pregnant?
Though the exact cause of pregnancy cravings is unclear, it is hypothesized that cranberry juice cravings may be tied to a vitamin C deficiency or hormonal changes. Additionally, sipping cranberry juice can help alleviate symptoms of nausea. In moderation, cranberry juice is a healthy addition to a pregnant woman’s diet.
Keep reading to learn more about the prevalence of craving cranberry juice during pregnancy, if it’s safe to drink, and what it means about your pregnancy.
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Is it normal to crave cranberry juice while pregnant?
Food cravings are extremely common during pregnancy, and many women report having a desire for cranberry juice specifically.
While pregnancy cravings are not well understood, there are four leading hypotheses:
- Fluctuating hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, may heighten cravings for specific foods.
- Nutritional deficiencies may bring about cravings for foods rich in nutrients that the body needs.
- Active ingredients in craved foods may be biologically beneficial (e.g., the energy-boosting compounds found in chocolate).
- Culture and psychosocial factors can influence food cravings; for instance, foods that are seen as “off-limits” may be more desired.
A study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine showed that cranberry was one of the most popular “herbal medicines” used by women during pregnancy. While some have intense cravings for cranberry, some women use cranberry for the following purposes:
- Vitamin C (associated with preventing cold and flu)
- UTI prevention
- Overall health benefits
- Water retention
In addition to its health benefits, drinking small amounts of a clear, sweet beverage can help settle your stomach. For this reason, it may be common for women to crave cranberry juice when experiencing morning sickness.
Is it OK to drink cranberry juice while pregnant?
Cranberry juice is considered safe to drink during pregnancy and while nursing.
A study in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies found that cranberry supplement during pregnancy does not lead to increased risk of malformations, stillbirth, low birth weight, preterm delivery, neonatal infections, or low Apgar scores.
Research published in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth found that 8.7 percent of pregnant women regularly ingested some form of cranberry. While some just like the taste, many women in this study took cranberry for its health benefits, and of these women, 78 percent reported positive effects during pregnancy.
Cranberry juice is safe to drink during pregnancy, and it can even be beneficial. The nutritional benefits depend on the type of cranberry juice you are drinking.
Here is the nutritional breakdown of popular Ocean Spray cranberry juices:
Nutritional Information for Ocean Spray Cranberry Juices
Type of Juice Calories
Vitamins and Minerals
(Recommended Daily Value per serving)
Ocean Spray 100% Cranberry Juice 100 cal 23 g 100% Vitamin C
No added sugar
No artificial flavors or preservatives
Consuming one 8 oz. serving every day may help reduce the risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs) in healthy women
Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail 110 cal 25 g 100% Vitamin C No high fructose corn syrup
No artificial flavors or preservatives
Consuming one 8 oz. serving every day may help reduce the risk of UTIs in healthy women
Ocean Spray Diet Cranberry Juice 5 cal 1 g 20% Vitamin C Made with real fruit juice
Ocean Spray Pure Cranberry Juice 60 cal 9 g
No added sugar
No Artificial Colors, flavors or preservatives
Consuming 3 fl oz every day may help reduce the risk of UTIs in healthy women
Out of these options, I recommend Ocean Spray 100% Cranberry Juice because it provides the most nutritional benefits with the least amount of sugar.
Avoiding added sugar is important when drinking fruit juice while pregnant. Not only can large amounts of sugar lead to high blood pressure and additional weight gain, but research has also shown that ingesting excessive amounts of sugar during pregnancy can negatively affect child cognition. These adverse effects are not seen when ingesting natural sugars.
How does cranberry juice help during pregnancy?
Drinking cranberry juice can be beneficial during pregnancy in many ways. As mentioned, cravings for cranberry juice may even be your body’s way of telling you what it needs.
Cranberries can be a good source of many nutrients, including:
- Vitamin C promotes a healthy immune system and builds connective tissues. It may also help reduce the occurrence of pregnancy complications such as pre-eclampsia.
- Vitamin E is an important antioxidant that helps balance hormones, strengthens your immune system, and plays an important role in fetal development. It may also reduce the risk of pregnancy complications linked to oxidative stress.
- Vitamin K1 helps to heal the body and promotes bone health. It is essential for proper blood coagulation, reducing the risk of hemorrhaging and neonatal bleeding.
- Manganese is essential for fetal growth, especially in fetal bone and cartilage development. It may also protect against cell damage.
- Copper is involved in many biological pathways, including energy production in metabolism and the use of iron.
In addition to providing essential vitamins and minerals, cranberries contain proanthocyanidins. These help support a healthy urinary tract and reduce the occurrence of UTIs by preventing bacteria from adhering to tissue in the urinary tract.
The American Pregnancy Association explains that UTIs are common during pregnancy because the weight of the uterus can prevent urine from being expelled by the bladder, leading to infection. UTIs can cause kidney infections, which can lead to pregnancy complications. Though cranberry juice should not be solely used to treat UTIs, it is great for prevention.
Drinking cranberry juice for nausea
According to the March of Dimes, at least seven in ten pregnant women experience nausea during pregnancy. Nausea is most commonly seen in the first trimester but, in some cases, can persist until delivery.
One tip for managing nausea and vomiting during pregnancy is frequently drinking small amounts of clear, sweetened liquids like cranberry juice.
The Cleveland Clinic reports that sweetened drinks were found to soothe the stomach better than unsweetened drinks.
Side effects of cranberry juice during pregnancy
Cranberry juice can be a great addition to a woman’s pregnancy diet; however, to avoid negative side effects, it’s important to choose the right type of juice and not overdo it.
Added sugar found in some cranberry juice varieties may lead to high blood sugar, unnecessary weight gain, and adverse effects related to child cognition. These side effects can be reduced or eliminated by choosing cranberry juice with no added sugar.
Along with potential negative effects due to sugar, cranberries can also cause side effects such as:
- Upset stomach
- Kidney stones
- Increased risk of cancer oxalate uroliths in high-risk individuals
What about cranberry pills during pregnancy?
Though cranberry juice is considered safe during pregnancy, the effect of cranberry supplements has not been widely studied.
Many cranberry supplement brands, including Azo-Cranberry Gummies, recommend consulting a doctor before using their products while pregnant.
What does it mean if you crave cranberry juice during pregnancy?
Pregnancy cravings can seem inexplicable and arbitrary, but there is usually some root to them.
Craving cranberry juice may mean you are:
- Vitamin C deficient.
- In need of other micronutrients found in cranberry juice.
- Experiencing low blood sugar
- Combatting nausea.
While these hypotheses are based on scientific research, some wives’ tales use cravings to provide not scientifically backed insights.
Does craving cranberry juice while pregnant mean it’s a boy or girl?
One popular wives tale suggests that a pregnant woman’s cravings can predict the sex of her baby.
In this folklore, cravings for protein-dense foods, sour or spicy foods, and salt indicate you’re expecting a boy, while cravings for sweets or dairy mean it’s a girl.
While old wives’ tales can be fun, there is no scientific backing that indicates cravings of any sort may indicate the sex of the baby.
If you want to learn more, I have a HUGE list of the most common pregnancy cravings just for you!