Consuming spicy food in pregnancy is totally safe – it won’t affect your baby whatsoever and it can even provide some surprising benefits.
Lots of women start craving spicy food when they’re pregnant but worry that spicy foods will harm their baby in some way. Cravings during pregnancy are stereotypically strange combinations or ‘odd’ foods like pickles, tomato juice and even burgers topped with marmalade (!) Cravings usually start during the first trimester and most likely to be caused by rapidly changing hormones in your body. According to research conducted by Frontiers in Psychology, an estimated 50-90% of women experience cravings for specific foods during pregnancy.
If you’re craving spicy foods and you’re pregnant, there are a few things to keep in mind:
You may not be used to eating spicy food like chillies, jalapenos or hot curries, so don’t overwhelm your digestive system with too much too soon (if you can help it). Large amounts of spicy foods can cause diarrhea, heartburn and GI discomfort – especially in the third trimester.
Spicy foods can induce sweating, which is actually really helpful during pregnancy, as it cools down the body. For this reason, especially in summer, it’s really important to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water every day and if you’re experiencing indigestion, drink between rather than with meals, as this can make it worse.
Did you know? Regular intake of spicy foods can change the ‘flavour’ of your amniotic fluid and influence your baby’s tastebuds? A foetus starts swallowing amniotic fluid at around ten weeks and what you eat during pregnancy could affect your child’s flavour preferences later on.
Will eating spicy food during pregnancy induce labour?
Lots of people swear by spicy foods inducing labour, but there’s no evidence to suggest that this is the case. If your body isn’t ready for labour, for whatever reason, then spicy food won’t change this.
Recently, I published this post about warming foods and pregnancy, which talks about how naturally warming foods can help restore balance in the body and manage symptoms such as nausea and fatigue. Not to be confused with spicy foods, warming foods warm up your digestive system and can nourish the kidneys, heal the gut and raise yang levels in the body. Chilli, garlic and ginger are all examples of warming foods that are great for pregnant women with cold hands and feet or lack of energy.
If you’d like more information about how what you eat can affect your chances of conceiving, the nutritional considerations when you’re pregnant and how dietary changes can be implemented well into parenthood, book an appointment with me today. I operate out of Brunswick Health on Melville Road, Brunswick.