The simple answer is Yes! Go for it!
Pregnant women have many different food cravings, and sometimes they can be a bit odd! Many future mums-to-be crave spicy food during pregnancy but are unsure if it’s safe to eat. The good news is that pregnant women who love hot peppers and chillies don’t have to give them up! There’s no need to worry – according to research, eating spicy food will not harm your baby.
Spicy food during pregnancy and the safety of the baby
Pregnancy requires a complex diet that will provide all required nutrients to both mother and baby. There are some minerals and vitamins that you will need to consume more than others while pregnant. But what about food safety and avoiding eating certain foods when pregnant? We already know that pregnant women should avoid raw meat, uncooked eggs, and certain types of cheeses. But luckily, spicy food isn’t on the list of things to avoid when pregnant.
Eating hot and spicy meals during pregnancy is not harmful to your baby’s growth. Some even believe that it helps your baby develop a sense of taste!
The myth that eating spicy food can be dangerous while pregnant (i.e. cause miscarriages or premature birth) came from the fact that hot peppers stimulate the digestive tract. This causes your intestines to contract, which some confuse with uterine contractions. However the two are not the same.
Spicy food doesn’t cause uterine contractions and has nothing to do with premature births. In fact, the National Centre for Biotechnology Information noted that pregnant women show a lower preference for spicy food in their first and second trimester of pregnancy (See ‘Changes in food preferences in pregnant women’).
Every pregnancy is different
While it’s completely safe to eat spicy food when pregnant, we do have to remember that all women are different and each will experience pregnancy in their own unique way. Some women will crave spicy foods and feel great after digging into a huge bowl of hot chilli curry. Others might experience indigestion and heartburn after eating only a little amount of spice.
Can spicy food induce labour?
There is a theory that when a woman’s pregnancy is past the due date, she should eat some spicy foods to induce labour. There is no real evidence that this works, however.
Spicy foods after the birth
Introducing spicy dishes to your menu while pregnant can have a positive effect on your baby after birth. This is because a pregnant or breastfeeding woman’s diet influences the taste of her breastmilk. Some research has shown that when breastfeeding mothers consumed garlic, their infants fed off that breast milk for longer. That said, if a woman is experiencing any burning sensations after eating a spicy dish then she should switch to a milder diet.
Spicy food or mild-tasting meals, it’s up to future mum to decide! The most important thing is to make sure that you’re eating enough nutrients for a healthy pregnancy and the benefit of your growing baby.
If you’re still not sure about which foods are safe to eat when pregnant, check the Food Safety During Pregnancy guidelines prepared by The Royal Women’s Hospital. You can also find more details about safe food choices for pregnant women on the website of NSW Food Authority.