Does spicy food hurt your baby while pregnant

Spicy Food and Pregnancy | OnPoint Nutrition

While the list of foods to avoid during pregnancy is quite long, spicy food does not make the list. Spicy foods may cause some discomfort during pregnancy, but if you find yourself craving the heat, you are completely safe to indulge those cravings!

Pregnancy Cravings

Up to 90 percent of women experience cravings at some point during pregnancy. While the exact cause of pregnancy cravings isn’t clear, it is likely related to the hormonal changes that occur throughout pregnancy. It is common to experience changes in taste preferences both during and after pregnancy. Spicy may be your new flavor preference or the last thing you want.

There are plenty of myths online about the cause of craving spicy foods during pregnancy. Some believe that craving spice indicates you are having a boy, while others speculate that cravings are a sign of nutritional deficiencies. Another common thought is that eating spicy foods helps induce labor naturally. While there is no scientific evidence to back this up, many women claim that it has worked for them. A 2011 survey reported that 20 percent of women claimed that they attempted to induce labor by eating spicy foods and it worked for them. However, none of these notions are backed by scientific research.

Spicy Food is Safe but May Have Side Effects

Eating spicy foods during pregnancy is generally safe for both you and your baby. However, while there are no threats to you or your baby, spicy foods may cause some uncomfortable side effects for pregnant women, including heartburn and indigestion. Both issues are common in pregnant women regardless of what they eat, but spicy foods may make these issues even worse.

The effects spicy foods have on your body may vary by trimester. During the first trimester, spicy foods may aggravate morning sickness. Later in pregnancy (during the second and third trimesters), spicy food is more likely to cause unpleasant side effects including heartburn, indigestion, nausea, diarrhea, gas, bloating, and gastroesophageal reflux.

Nausea is most common early in pregnancy, and is often called morning sickness, although it may last all day. Some women also experience vomiting paired with continued nausea. Spicy foods may make nausea more intense and may make vomiting more painful.

Heartburn is common during the second and third trimesters. Hormonal changes in your body relax the muscle that prevents stomach acid from leaking into the esophagus, which makes acid reflux more likely. Additionally, as your baby grows, your organs have less space and become squished together. Spicy foods, acidic foods, and high fat foods may all exacerbate heartburn throughout pregnancy.

Indigestion is also common later in pregnancy. As you get further into the pregnancy, your stomach empties more slowly. This delayed emptying, coupled with squished organs, may cause discomfort after you eat. Indigestion after consuming spicy foods is more common in women who did not consistently eat spicy foods before pregnancy.

Avoid Heartburn Medication During Pregnancy

Although spicy foods are perfectly healthy during pregnancy, you should avoid some nausea/heartburn/indigestion medications. Not all over-the-counter medications are safe during pregnancy, so before taking something for your heartburn or indigestion, it is best to speak with your doctor.

If you find yourself craving spicy foods, but not wanting to deal with the side effects, start with small amounts of spice and avoid having spicy foods at every meal. Stay well hydrated throughout your pregnancy, especially when you are consuming spicy foods.

Spicy Food Benefits During Pregnancy

While there is some caution against overdoing spicy foods during pregnancy, there are benefits to including a bit of spice in your pregnancy diet.

Capsaicin, which gives peppers their spice, is anti-inflammatory, and believed to support your immune system and heart health.

Research shows that what you eat during pregnancy affects your baby’s taste preferences after birth. As early as week 15, your baby’s taste buds have fully developed. She begins swallowing amniotic fluid and tasting the foods you are eating. This leads to the notion that eating a variety of flavors, including spicy foods, will help your child be a more adventurous eater as she grows up.

Some studies also show that eating spicy foods may improve your cholesterol. During pregnancy, both LDL, referred to as “bad” cholesterol, and HDL, referred to as “good” cholesterol, increase. However, research has shown that eating spicy foods may help reduce LDL and increase HDL, which are both great for your health!

Your Pregnancy

While some women may be able to put hot sauce on everything, others may not be able to tolerate a drop during pregnancy. Listen to your own body throughout your pregnancy, especially when it comes to foods your body may or may not react to.

Overall, focus on consuming a well-balanced diet, including fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, leans proteins, and healthy fats. Avoid some foods that are more likely to cause problems during pregnancy including high-mercury fish, undercooked meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs, unpasteurized dairy, unwashed produce, caffeine, and alcohol.

If you need help navigating how to nourish your body throughout pregnancy, we are here to help! Our team of dietitians and nutritionists will help guide you through a healthy pregnancy for both you and your baby.

Spicy Food in Pregnancy: Myths and Facts

You used to have a low-to-medium tolerance for spicy food, but no more — now that you’re pregnant, you crave literally anything with the word “buffalo” in it, from chicken wings to roasted cauliflower to convenience-store potato chips.

Is all that heat safe for you and your baby? Here’s what you need to know if pregnancy has left you dumping hot sauce on practically everything (seriously, only your breakfast cereal is safe at this point).

Pregnancy makes you crave all kinds of stuff, none of which usually makes any sense. Pickles and ice cream, strawberry jam on hamburgers, marinara sauce over canned tuna — you name it, and a pregnant person has eaten it.

There’s generally one explanation: Hormones, which are to blame for pretty much everything.

There’s no trick to decoding your cravings, but there are some myths floating around the internet about why many women crave spicy foods during pregnancy.

Some people think it happens more if you’re having a boy, while others wonder if it’s some sort of natural instinct to cool down (literally — eating spicy food makes you sweat, and sweating lowers your body temp).

Either way, your taste buds often change during and after pregnancy, so don’t worry if you’re suddenly craving five-alarm chili. It probably isn’t a “sign” of anything worth noting.

Here’s some good news: Eating spicy food during pregnancy is 100 percent safe for your baby. Really! It can’t hurt your little one.

One small word of warning, though — 2019 research suggests that eating certain foods during pregnancy can change the “flavor” of your amniotic fluid. However, no studies have looked at spicy food intake specifically.

Nevertheless, you could be influencing your baby’s taste buds with all those buffalo chicken wraps, and they might show a preference for certain familiar flavors later on. Not that that’s a bad thing, just FYI.

Here’s the not-so-good news: While eating a lot of spicy food isn’t bad for your baby, it can cause some unpleasant side effects for you. Nothing dangerous, but satisfying the craving might not always be worth the pain of heartburn, indigestion, and GI distress afterward.

If you’re not used to eating spicy foods but pregnancy has given you a hankering for chili peppers, it’s smart to start slow.

Don’t eat spicy foods in high amounts or at every meal. Make sure you stay well hydrated. Prepare spicy food safely, by choosing quality ingredients and washing your hands after handling peppers.

And try to build up your tolerance to heat in increments rather than jumping straight to that ghost pepper tabasco with the skull and crossbones on the label, OK?

In the first trimester, eating spicy food isn’t likely to cause many issues, although it can aggravate morning sickness. If you’re already having trouble with all-day nausea and queasiness, spicy foods may make things worse.

In the second and third trimester, eating spicy food may cause:

  • heartburn, as your growing uterus forces stomach acids higher into your esophagus
  • indigestion
  • nausea
  • diarrhea, gas, and bloating
  • an increase in gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) symptoms

If you’re getting close to the end of your pregnancy and thinking about giving your labor a jump start, everyone from your mother to your grandmother to the guy in the apartment next door will probably tell you to eat something spicy.

This advice is so prevalent, in fact, that researchers actually studied it alongside other labor shortcuts (like walking, sex, and laxatives) back in 2011.

Researchers asked 201 postpartum women if they had tried to naturally induce labor and, if so, what methods they had used; of the 50 percent who reported they had tried self-inducing, 20 percent claimed they had eaten spicy foods to get the job done.

The only problem? There’s no science here to back this up. If you’re sitting pretty at 38 weeks with no dilation, chowing down on a plate of wings isn’t going to make your body suddenly ready for birth.

You might be willing to deal with the heartburn that comes with eating spicy foods if it means satisfying a powerful craving, but keep in mind that getting rid of pregnancy heartburn isn’t as easy as chugging Pepto-Bismol like it was in your pre-pregnancy days.

Not all over-the-counter drugs for heartburn, indigestion, and nausea are considered safe for pregnant women. Give your doctor a call if you’re experiencing severe or persistent GI symptoms, like:

  • diarrhea
  • burning pain
  • gas
  • cramping
  • bloating

Listen, mama: If you’ve got the stomach for it (pun intended), then you can eat all the spicy food you want during pregnancy! It won’t hurt you or your baby.

If you’re not used to heat, go slow — and if you start having uncomfortable side effects, limit how much and how often you douse your food in tabasco.

Can pregnant women eat spicy foods

May 8, 2022 Likbez Health

It all depends on the quantity.

Iya Zorina

Author of Lifehacker, athlete, CCM

You can listen to the short version of the article. If it's more convenient for you, turn on the podcast. Can spicy food harm an unborn baby? Therefore, such food is not prohibited in any of the trimesters.

Moreover, some hot spices can be helpful. For example, capsaicin can have a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system and slightly boost metabolism. And black pepper piperine improves digestion and helps fight oxidative stress from free radical buildup.

Of course, while you are expecting a baby, you should not experiment with supplements or deliberately increase the amount of pepper in your diet. But if you usually eat spicy foods, there is no reason to refuse them after the onset of pregnancy.

Is it true that spicy helps to induce labor

Surveys have shown that some women have tried in one way or another to induce labor later in pregnancy. Among the most popular methods were walking, sex and spicy food. The latter was used by 10.9% of respondents, believing that such food will cause excitement in the intestines and push the uterus into contractions.

Although scientists still do not know exactly what triggers labor, it is believed that this process begins under the influence of hormones released by the fetus. And therefore, all attempts by the mother to quickly resolve the burden, including eating spicy, will be ineffective.

Can spicy food harm a pregnant woman's digestion

Pregnant women often suffer from heartburn due to fetal pressure on internal organs. And often in this condition, doctors recommend excluding spicy foods. However, scientific data do not yet confirm the positive effect of this approach.

What's more, one study found that capsaicin from hot peppers reduced stomach acid production and increased mucus secretion, which may be helpful for heartburn.

Of course, nothing like this has been tested on pregnant women, so don't use spicy food as a way to get rid of discomfort.

Moreover, an excess of hot spices can be dangerous in the long run. For example, one study calculated that eating spicy foods more than 10 times a week doubles your risk of developing irritable bowel syndrome, a condition that causes abdominal pain and problems with bowel movements.

So it's not worth getting carried away.

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Can pregnant women eat spicy and spicy dishes and why

During pregnancy, your tastes in food may change. Hundreds of anecdotes and folk signs are devoted to the strange addictions of pregnant women: like how it pulls you to spread a pickled cucumber with nut butter and drink it with milk. Some have an irresistible craving for sweet, others for savory, but some can barely resist eating whole hot jalapeno peppers. Can pregnant women eat spicy dishes, and what will happen if you include scalding food in the menu for pregnant women?

Alla Rezyapova

Legion Media

Debunking the myths about spicy foods during pregnancy.

Contents of the article

Do not self-medicate! In our articles, we collect the latest scientific data and the opinions of authoritative health experts. But remember: only a doctor can diagnose and prescribe treatment.

Is spicy food safe during pregnancy?

Yes, spicy foods are safe during pregnancy unless you have other contraindications. In general, folk myths forbid pregnant women either hot dogs, or cakes, or oysters, or spicy soups. In reality, the list of truly prohibited foods comes down to simple advice: during pregnancy, you can’t eat raw animal products (including cheeses made from unpasteurized milk) and unwashed greens. Everything is the same that mom taught us in childhood, only a little stricter: after all, you are responsible not only for your own health, but also for the health of your unborn child.

Many people firmly believe that spicy food is basically bad. In this, they are not far removed from the medieval monks, who were convinced that food with too bright taste arouses lust, and therefore is pleasing to the devil. Spicy food is safe, although it is not always suitable for taste buds and the gastrointestinal tract.

So eating spicy food during pregnancy can cause not too dangerous, but quite unpleasant consequences like diarrhea. Treat it with caution, especially if spicy foods cause stomach upset even when you are not pregnant.

What happens if you eat a lot of spicy foods while pregnant?

Spicy food has its pros and cons for pregnant women. we invite you to weigh them yourself and decide whether you really want a burning gazpacho and this mustard sauce, or it is better to limit yourself to a vegetable salad.

Increased risk of heartburn

Many pregnant women suffer from heartburn, and spicy foods can make it worse. Pregnancy hormones are to blame for this: they relax the valve between the esophagus and stomach, and gastric juice flows back into the esophagus, causing discomfort and even pain in the abdomen. Although heartburn can occur in any trimester, it is most common in women in late pregnancy when the growing baby pushes stomach acid up the esophagus.

Stomach pain will start

Contrary to popular belief, spicy food does not cause stomach ulcers. What's more, the capsaicin found in hot peppers may even help treat ulcers. But if you've already been diagnosed with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, spicy foods can trigger symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease.

Improved overall health

The same capsaicin found in hot red peppers, cumin and garlic has anti-inflammatory properties. Some studies show that it can support the immune system and strengthen the heart muscle. In addition, spices improve mood and help reduce pain.

Your unborn baby will have more varied tastes

While your unborn baby is inside, he or she will eat the same things you eat. Taste and olfactory sensations from your menu pass through the amniotic fluid to the child. Scientists believe that starting from the 15th week, when the receptors are formed in the child, it can be considered that he "eats" food from your table. The more varied your diet during this period, the more likely your child will grow up open to new gastronomic experiences.

Why do I crave spicy things during pregnancy?

More than half of American women complain about perverse gastronomic tastes during pregnancy. And these tastes range from sweet to salty and... very strange. 40% crave candy, ice cream and other sweets. 33% choose salty, and in third place are lovers of spicy snacks, their number is 17%. 10% of pregnant women overeat sour stuff like lemons or unripe apples.

Cucumbers in cheese, spoonfuls of salsa straight out of the jar, olives on cheesecake, eggplants - especially on pizza... Researchers have accurately calculated and carefully studied the strange and wild cravings of pregnant women, but could not figure out what caused them. However, they have a number of theories.

  • The first version is associated with hormonal changes. However, it has long been known that scientists attribute everything they cannot explain to female hormones. Otherwise, pregnant Japanese women would not prefer rice to chocolate. So, most likely, gastronomic preferences are influenced by the surrounding culture and not by complex chemical processes in the body.
  • The second theory implies that our body is an independent thinking entity. Pushing pregnant women to certain dishes, he reports a deficiency of some substances in the body. If this were true, all pregnant women would crave broccoli and lentils!

However, sometimes the tastes of pregnant women take on a completely bizarre form: they are drawn to eat chalk, earth, window putty or ice straight from the glass (or worse). If you notice a craving for non-food products, this is a reason to immediately consult a doctor.

Can spicy food cause preterm labor?

Folk remedies to induce labor if the due date has already passed are incredibly inventive. Raspberry leaf tea, pineapples, evening primrose oil, castor oil, enemas, sex, nipple stimulation, or driving a car on a bumpy road. Each of these methods has no proven effectiveness and most of them cannot be called safe: many of them can cause uterine contractions that are dangerous for the baby; others stimulate bowel contractions, which can indirectly affect the onset of labor.

This is exactly how spicy food works: according to one version, it causes contractions by stimulating the digestive system.

Learn more