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Is Spicy Food Safe for Pregnant Women?

written by: bevs lim • edited by: Donna Cosmato • updated: 10/5/2010

Many aspects affect eating behaviors; health status, available foods, social environments, and individual want and needs of expectant mothers. Some people just can’t help craving and eating spicy food when pregnant. So, is it safe?

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    chili Today, 75% of expectant mothers experience unquenchable cravings for food in comparison to 30% of the pregnant women 50 years ago. Gestating women crave for the following percentages of different types of foods: 40% sweet, 33% salty, 17% spicy and 10% sour foods. Craving for sweet, salty, and sour foods is no news to the majority of people, but craving for highly seasoned food scares many of those who are with child. Yes, they want to give in to their voracious cravings and munch on their favorite buffalo wings but are worried of the effects of eating food with too much spice. What are the hazards, if any, of eating spicy food when pregnant?

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    Rumored Effects of Spicy Food on Pregnant Women

    The following are rumors and are not backed by expert research and study, but are all testimonials of women who have gone through the experience and confirm these statements as effects of eating hot and peppery foods when pregnant.

    • Rumor # 1: Pregnant women who are expecting a boy tend to crave for spicy foods.

    Some say pregnant women crave bizarre food and their choices for food indicate the unborn child’s sex. It is believed those carrying infant girls crave sweets while those carrying boys crave spicy piquant foods.

    • Rumor # 2: Spicy food can induce labor.

    Some people believe pungent foods can naturally induce labor; in other words, that stimulating the digestive system of an expectant woman may also stimulate contractions. Base on the physiology of contractions and its stimuli, this statement may be indirectly true. Spicy food can sometimes cause irritation and diarrhea – diarrhea can lead to dehydration – a known side effect of dehydration is causing contractions to start. Another probable explanation is the fiery hot food increases prostaglandin, which helps contract smooth muscles and induces labor.

    • Rumor # 3: Consuming spicy foods can result in birthing an ill-tempered baby.
    • Rumor # 4: Eating too much fiery food can result in giving birth to a blind baby.
    • Rumor # 5: Eating peppery foods during pregnancy can leave markings on the baby's skin.
    • Rumor # 6: Excessive consumption of spicy food can reduce the amount of the infant's hair.

    the good news is these are just rumors for which there is no documented medical evidence. Spicy food is not harmful to expectant mothers or their babies. If an individual feels uncomfortable about eating spicy food during pregnancy, she should consult her health care professional.

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    Effects of Spicy Food on Pregnant Women

    Although spicy foods ahot wings re generally safe for pregnant women and their babies, some doctors advise their patients to reduce the amount of or eliminate completely hot peppery foods, especially during the third trimester. Eating these types of food when expecting a baby can cause heartburn, gas, bloating, and diarrhea.

    If there is no pain or unpleasant effects after consuming a highly spiced meal, expecting mothers should feel free to eat as much as fiery food as desired. However, individuals who plan to breastfeed after the baby is born should abstain from eating pungent or gas-causing foods during the third trimester. The gasses and flavors from these foods can pass through the breast milk and irritate babies’ sensitive digestive systems.

    Whether one chooses to indulge in spicy foods during pregnancy or not, it is important to maintain healthy balanced diets for pregnant women. Getting enough rest and adequate physical activity helps babies develop and grow properly as well as helps the expectant mother cope with the hormonal and bodily changes.

    There is no definite rule about eating spicy food when pregnant, because each pregnancy is individual. Food cravings can be a different experience for each expectant mother, so the wisest course is to learn to listen to the body and be vigilant about health, and when in doubt, consult an obstetrician or other health care professional.

    For more information for the best foods to eat during pregnancy, please read "Pregnancy: 5 Restaurant Foods to Avoid," or "Foods to Avoid With Morning Sickness."

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    Disclaimer

    This is not medical advice and is not meant to treat, diagnose, prescribe or cure any ailment. Check with your obstetrician first before following any advice you have read on BrightHub.com. Consult your obstetrician before you start, stop or change anything that has been previously prescribed to you.

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    Image Credits

    reynolds.james.e - http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3281/3022359020_8308986874.jpg

    rick - http://farm1.static.flickr.com/70/215401223_b6db1471bf.jpg

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    References

    Fit & Healthy Pregnancy - www.fithealthypregnancy.blogspot.com

    Food and Nutrition for Pregnant Women - www.healthandage.com