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.
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. She says however, that because expectant mothers are prone to experience heartburn, it might be wise to avoid the spicier fare.
If you are wondering how your baby will react to the spice, it may not be that simple. Romper reached out to OB-GYN Dr. Kathryn Wright of Facey Medical Group who says that regarding food in general, some babies may fall asleep after a meal and others may get more active. She says, however, that high carbohydrate foods may raise your blood sugar levels, 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.
Eating spicy foods shouldn’t affect your baby negatively at all, explained New Kids Center, but they may wreak havoc on your own digestive system. The website explained that the additional acids from spicy foods could give you some serious heartburn and make morning sickness worse because your growing uterus and baby can push your stomach acids up. So it’s a good idea to take it easy, gauge what your digestive system can handle, and focus on getting complete nutrition from your meals.
If you are craving spicy foods during pregnancy, you aren’t alone. Women in regions where spicy food is a staple often crave even spicier foods during pregnancy. I come from an Indian household, where the heat level in everyday meals is pretty high. I ate my favorite, super spicy dishes all the time, including whole green chilies and red hot peppers. My babies were born happy and healthy, so the spices I ate did not seem to have any effect on the wellbeing of my babies.
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. If you want to eat spicy foods safely throughout your pregnancy, and avoid indigestion and heartburn, New Kids Center suggested eating them in smaller amounts so that you can test which foods and spice levels suit you. The article noted, however, that if you are feeling uncomfortable after eating, you should lay off the spice until you feel better.
My family comes from a country where spicy food is king, and the masses consume it on a daily basis, so as far as I can tell, there are no negative effects on a baby. But if you are still concerned about eating spicy foods, and how they’re affecting your baby, take some time out and talk to your OB-GYN, who can give you some nutritional advice and guidance to put your mind at ease.
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