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Does Eating Spicy Foods While Pregnant Affect Baby?

by
author image Adrienne Weeks
Adrienne Weeks spends her time as a collegiate speech instructor, fitness instructor and stay-at-home mom. She holds a master's degree in communication studies from Texas Tech University. Weeks has written about a wide variety of topics but enjoys sharing her passion about fitness, cooking and parenting.
Does Eating Spicy Foods While Pregnant Affect Baby?
Spicy foods are safe to consume during pregnancy. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images

Although spicy foods will not harm your developing fetus during pregnancy, they might affect you. While many expectant mothers can tolerate spicy foods without problems, others experience heartburn and digestive problems. Spicy meals might also worsen morning sickness in mothers who are unable to stomach certain spices. Consume a variety of foods as part of a balanced diet during pregnancy to ensure you and your baby receive the nutrients you need.

Safe for Baby

Medical experts agree that spicy foods are safe to consume during pregnancy. Spicy foods will not harm your growing baby and might even help your baby develop a taste for certain spices later in life. Although most spicy dishes are safe to eat during pregnancy, avoid dishes that contain undercooked meat, poultry or seafood; unpasteurized dairy products; and fish with high traces of mercury, including swordfish, shark and mackerel. If you are eating out, ask the waiter about dishes to ensure your dish does not include these foods, which have been known to cause birth defects.

Morning Sickness

Many pregnant women experience a form of morning sickness during the first few months of pregnancy. Morning sickness consists of nausea, upset stomach or vomiting due to changes in hormone levels. Certain tastes and smells might trigger nausea, which might make it difficult or even impossible to eat or smell spicy foods you previously enjoyed. It might help to avoid these foods during the first trimester because spicy meals might worsen morning sickness. Many women see an improvement in morning sickness and return to their regular diet after the first trimester.

Heartburn

Although spicy food is safe to eat during pregnancy, you should avoid it if you experience heartburn or other digestive issues. Spicy foods are more likely to cause heartburn and acid reflux, two common problems during the later months of pregnancy. If you do choose to eat spicy foods, pair them with a glass of milk to help minimize heartburn. A tablespoon of honey might also help prevent heartburn after eating a spicy dish.

Considerations

Although you might have heard that spicy foods help induce labor, no medical evidence supports this claim. Eating spicy foods as you prepare for labor, however, will not harm your baby in any way. Keep in mind that you might experience heartburn or other digestion issues. Some expectant mothers have trouble with spicy food during pregnancy, while others eat it with no trouble at all. If you're unsure of the effect of spicy foods on your body, try it in small amounts before eating an entire spicy meal.

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