Pregnancy cravings are infamous, and you’ll hear about all the pickles and ice cream that many moms supposedly crave. Apparently pregnancy hormones can shake up your senses of taste and smell, so when you are pregnant, you may eat want to eat stronger tasting foods, including lots of spice. But if you are slathering your food with Sriracha at every meal, you might want to know what happens to your baby when you eat spicy food during pregnancy. Are they in there, sweating from all the tabasco?
Not exactly, but there is some research that indicates that eating spicy foods, if anything, can widen your baby’s palate early on. According to NPR, a study found that flavors can pass from the mother to the amniotic fluid, so what a mom eats during her pregnancy may shape her baby’s food preferences later in life. So eating spicy foods may make your amniotic fluid a little spicier, exposing your baby to the flavors in utero.
Here’s Why You’re Craving Spicy Food During Pregnancy
Cravings during pregnancy go together like, well, Doritos and milk. So if you’re suddenly fiending for spicy food, chalk it up to those lovely pregnancy hormones. A study found that between 50-90% of women found themselves facing unpredictable food cravings during pregnancy. While many pregnant women seek out sweets, there are those who crave kimchi — the spicier, the better.
Is It Safe To Eat Spicy Food During Pregnancy?
Jennifer Jordan, Director of Mom and Baby, Aeroflow Healthcare tells Romper that it's an old wives' tale that spicy food could somehow harm the baby, cause contractions, or trigger preterm labor, but it's simply not true. Dr. Cynthia Flynn, MD, a board-certified OB/GYN for JustAnswer, agrees, adding: “Yes, it is safe to eat spicy food during pregnancy. Luckily, your baby has no idea what you are eating!” You won’t have to worry about giving your little one heartburn, or making them feel queasy about those quesadillas you’re eating; they’re just as happy getting all those nutrients as you are.
How Does Spicy Food Affect Your Baby During Pregnancy?
If you're wondering how your baby will react to that spicy tomato soup going down, you don’t have to worry. “Spicy food does not affect your baby in any way,” says Dr. Flynn. “It is an old wives’ tale that spicy food will harm or irritate the baby.” You might notice your fetus doing a happy dance in there when you satisfy a food craving, though, and that’s pretty common — and safe. While some babies fall asleep after a meal, others might get more active, OB/GYN Dr. Kathryn Wright of Facey Medical Group tells Romper. High carbohydrate foods may raise your blood sugar levels, she says, therefore raising the blood sugar levels of your baby, which may make your baby more active. So unless your spicy food is very high in carbohydrates or sugars, the spice itself may not affect your baby’s reactions.
What Does A Spicy Food Craving Mean During Pregnancy?
If you’re wondering if something weird is going on now that you’re drooling at the very thought of chowing down on some Dan Dan noodles, don’t be: Cravings during pregnancy are completely normal. Dr. Seth Plancher, OB/GYN at Garden City OB/GYN in New York, says that food cravings are a common part of pregnancy and are likely due to hormonal changes in your body. “Spicy food cravings do not necessarily mean anything during pregnancy,” says Dr. Flynn. “Other cravings might have meaning, but a desire for something spicy is simply a food preference.”
What Are Some Safe Heartburn Remedies To Take During Pregnancy?
They say you can’t have too much of a good thing, but try telling that to your tummy after eating chicken vindaloo — and licking the plate clean with your finger (come on, we’ve all done it.) If you’re repenting after popping one too many jalapeno poppers into your mouth, though, get ready to reach for some OTC relief. “Chewable Tums are always safe to take during pregnancy and they also provide a little extra calcium,” advises Dr. Flynn. “Mylanta is also safe when used sporadically.” And be sure to listen to your body; if you feel icky after eating spicy food, you might want to limit the times you eat it, no matter how tempting those spicy tacos are.
How Much Spicy Food Should You Eat During Pregnancy?
If you just can’t get enough of that jerk chicken you love, you’ll be happy to know that you can consume it to your heart's (and belly’s) content. “You do not need to limit your intake of spicy food unless it bothers you,” says Dr. Flynn. “Pay attention to how you feel after you eat something spicy and decide accordingly if it is working for you.” If you’re feeling ill, you might want to not eat it so frequently, or ask for a milder version of the dish.
There’s nothing like quelching a food craving when you’re expecting. And when it comes to spicy foods, they’re totally safe to eat during pregnancy. But if you want to eat spicy foods safely throughout your pregnancy, make sure to recognize how your body feels after eating it. And if you’re experiencing indigestion and heartburn, you might need to look for other ways to spice up your life until you feel better again.
Orloff, N., Hormes, J. “Pickles and ice cream! Food cravings in pregnancy: hypotheses, preliminary evidence, and directions for future research.” 2014.
Dr. Cynthia Flynn, MD, an OB/GYN
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