Should New Mothers Avoid Spicy Food During Pregnancy?


Should New Mothers Avoid Spicy Food During Pregnancy_ - Tian Wei Signature

Let’s first start with the elephant in the room. Yes, eating spicy foods is safe for you and your baby when you’re pregnant. 

Oh, we’ve heard it all here before from the myth that the baby will come out with second degree burns because of how hot that curry was or that somehow eating spicy foods while pregnant will make your kid a savant who knows difference between thyme and coriander. We repeat, it is safe to consume spicy foods during pregnancy. 

Now, let’s ask something that is just as complicated as whether spicy foods are safe for consumption during pregnancy – why do you suddenly want to eat spicy food during pregnancy? 

Why do you suddenly want to eat spicy food during pregnancy? 

We’ve all either experienced or are well acquainted with someone who craved for something sour during their pregnancy. From the usual culprit of anything sour like pickles and those preserved Chinese candies that has the preserved plums in them…you know, those that start off sweet but then once you get to the preserved plum in the centre, all alarm bells start ringing in your head and you don’t know whether to keep sucking on it or to just spit it out? Yeah, that one. 

This brings up the age-old question of why, actually, do women have these cravings during pregnancy? 

It often was said before, and still has some traction today, that these cravings are actually your body’s way of telling you that you are missing a few things like vitamin C or something and it manifests itself as a craving so that you’ll want to eat food items that are associated with that nutrition which you lack. 

The issue with this is, what has that got to do with those times when you really just want Penang Laksa at 4am in the morning? What sort of fundamental need is your body associating with Penang Laksa at 4am in the morning? If anything, that’s most likely a fundamental need to see how much your hubby loves you and how resourceful he is in sourcing for food at ungodly hours, but we digress. 

So, what about the effect of spicy food on your baby and you during pregnancy?

Spicy foods & you & your baby

As we have mentioned before, spicy foods are safe to eat during pregnancy as long as they don’t create complications. It’s fine to continue eating spicy meals if you regularly enjoy them. 

Many women discover that spicy foods do not agree with them during pregnancy due to morning sickness, heartburn, and indigestion. Others have no problems and continue to eat spicy foods all throughout the pregnancy.

Since spicy foods provide no intrinsic risk to your developing baby, you can experiment with them and decide whether or not you want to continue eating them.

As with all things in life, we recommend you consume them in moderation. The ability to tolerate spicy foods may vary depending on where you are in your pregnancy and also from pregnancy to pregnancy.

Possible side effects for your baby

We’ve seen before and written about how certain compounds get transferred through the bloodstream and into the amniotic fluid which then exposes the foetus to those flavours which leads on to their foundational wanting/acceptance of those same flavours or compounds later on in life outside the womb.

So, at this point, we can only advise you that you might end up with a spice fiend on your hand later on in life! Not like it’s a bad thing! Talk about sugar, spice, and everything nice, indeed.

However, we do have to note that while spices may be safe for consumption, it’s the other factors or food ingredients that you may reconsider before consumption. For instance, those who love seafood like Asam Fish, you might want to check that the fish you’re eating isn’t one that is commonly associated with high levels of mercury. Even undercooked meats and eggs could lead to something awful like salmonella even though most meats these days are fairly free from those issues due to modern safety standards, it’s still better to be safe than sorry.

Heartburn, morning sickness, indigestion, labour?

Yes, you read that last one right. It has been said that eating spicy foods can induce labour. Well, the thing is, it might have worked for one or two mummies in the past and they were probably having some spicy food when their water broke or something to that effect…quite possibly to put out the fire from the spice?

Anyway, while that may have worked for them, it most certainly did not work in favour of history which now has that same myth being parroted by a sizable number of people who still believe that spicy foods can induce labour. There is no scientific evidence to prove this. 

Moving on to heartburn territory now and it’s not a pleasant feeling. First off, let’s state the obvious – avoid spicy food if you experience heartburn or other digestive issues like acid reflux. Again, prevention is better than cure.

Should you still feel the unwavering need for spice, maybe pair it with things that minimise the risk of heartburn like a glass of milk or mixing in some honey to douse that spiciness going down.

Next up is indigestion. Well, let’s clear the air first…that may not have been the best choice of words to phrase things…”clear the air” and “indigestion”. Anywho, let’s not get your hopes up just yet. There may not be any feasible way of completely eliminating indigestion during pregnancy.

What you can do is to try and reduce your food intake to minimise the risk of upsetting your internal systems and hope that indigestion doesn’t rear its head at you. Try limiting your intake of Caffeine, Acidic Foods, and overly Greasy Foods, and if spicy foods are giving you indigestion, then, once more, we’ll advise you to go without them for now.

Finally, we have morning sickness, the bane of pregnancy the world over. Actually, that’s not really true. It’s significantly more than half of all women who are pregnant who experience morning sickness, but not ALL mothers.

Morning sickness is characterised by feelings of nausea which could also involve actual vomiting. While some food items can help ease morning sickness, we’d advise you to be careful with your experimenting as the alternative is quite the opposite and certain other foods can set it off…and that’s not a very pleasant way to spend your morning at all!

We’ve read a comment by one OBGYN who said that his patient claims that a hamburger helped her with her morning sickness. While this may have worked for that lucky mummy, we really do have to stress that it’s a very subjective thing and there’s no one right way to rid morning sickness. 

Interestingly, the American Pregnancy Association notes that salty potato crisps may help calm your tummy while foods high in fat may exacerbate feelings of nausea. As with all things, if you find your morning sickness gets worse after eating a certain food item, you might be better off limiting your consumption of them until you’ve given birth…or, at least, until you’re further along in your pregnancy.

Closing words

At this point, we hope we have sufficiently answered why you should avoid spicy food during pregnancy (you really don’t have to avoid spicy food during pregnancy). However, if you were to ask “Can I eat spicy food after abortion” then that would be a whole other conversation and an entirely different article.

Also, this is just covering the pregnancy period. If you were to ask about after the delivery, we’d recommend you stick to confinement foods or prepare some good old Chinese confinement recipes instead of spicy foods. Speaking of which, did you know we happen to specialise in confinement foods for mothers in confinement?

Yes, that’s right. We are a confinement food delivery service provider who’ll cook up well-balanced and nutritious meals for you after your delivery. Have a browse through our menu on our homepage to see our varied dishes that’ll keep you excited and well-fed until you fully recover!

  • Tian Wei Signature

    We are a team behind the leading confinement food caterer who understand the importance of a well balanced diet to help mothers recover properly post-delivery. On top of preparing nutritious confinement meals for mothers, we work closely with our in-house dietitian to research articles and scour the internet to put together a library of dietary knowledge to help mothers along in their confinement.