How Bad Is It To Eat Spicy Food While Pregnant?

If you're pregnant, you may have experienced some interesting cravings. In fact, up to 90% of women report having food cravings during their pregnancy (via BabyCenter). While some moms-to-be go for sweet and salty, others say spicy food is what the baby wants.

Cravings aside, you may be wondering if dousing everything in hot sauce is safe for the baby. Luckily, spicy food is perfectly fine to enjoy during your pregnancy, according to experts at BabyCenter. But a heads up — if you overdo the spicy food, you may experience some uncomfortable side effects.

Heartburn is already a common pregnancy symptom — especially in the third trimester when the growing internal pressure from your baby can cause stomach acids to back up into the esophagus (via Healthline). But spicy food can really kick heartburn and acid reflux up a notch. Some additional gastrointestinal issues you may experience after eating spicy foods include abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, gas, and bloating.

Why you should enjoy spicy foods during pregnancy

But don't get rid of those chili peppers just yet! There are some benefits to eating spicy foods during pregnancy. Researchers say capsaicin in peppers can have anti-inflammatory effects, which support your immune system and overall health (via BabyCenter). Enjoying spicy food may also expand your baby's palate. Exposure to different tastes may increase your baby's potential liking of different foods as they absorb the spicy flavors through the amniotic fluid. Research has shown what you eat in pregnancy influences your baby's food preferences later in life. So you may have a hot sauce lover on your hands!

Old wives tales also say that spicy foods can induce labor. Although research has found that some women report having successfully induced labor via spicy foods, there isn't hard scientific evidence to confirm that claim, according to Healthline.

If you partake in spicy food during pregnancy, be sure to stay hydrated and consume in moderation. If you experience symptoms of discomfort after eating spicy food, be sure to check with your doctor about which over-the-counter medications are safe for pregnancy. You should also consult with your medical team if those gastrointestinal pains don't go away or become more severe.