Papaya is considered as an “angel of fruits” because of its high nutritional value. However, pregnancy changes everything. Especially, the food habits of the expecting woman. Irrespective of nutritional value, not all the fruits and vegetables are safe to have during pregnancy. Papaya is one of such fruits, which is largely unsafe to consume during pregnancy. Safety of eating papaya during pregnancy has always been a controversial topic. Where my doctor did not bar me from having a ripe papaya, my family elders were of the opinion that it should be totally avoided, as had been the tradition. But the problem here was that I literally like papaya. This set me thinking. Is it really harmful to eat papaya during pregnancy? Continue reading to understand everything regarding papaya and pregnancy, from information that I could gather.
Is It Safe To Eat Papaya (Papita) During Pregnancy?
Papaya, if well ripened, is completely safe to eat during pregnancy. Actually, eating fully ripe papaya in moderate quantities is advantageous during pregnancy as it is immensely rich in vitamins A and B, potassium and beta-carotenes. Whereas, eating semi-ripe and unripe papaya does pose a risk. This is because unripe an unripe or semi-ripe papaya contains latex, which is believed to trigger uterine contractions and could result in a miscarriage or pregnancy complications like stillbirth.
What Are The Nutritional Benefits Of Eating Papaya (Papita) During Pregnancy?
Papaya is a nutritional powerhouse. It makes up for a wonderful breakfast and we all know it is beneficial for hair, skin and even the digestive system. No wonder, I did not want to give up eating it during the most important and delicate time of my life. Eating a fully ripe papaya during pregnancy is highly beneficial. Here are some benefits of eating ripe papaya during pregnancy:
- Boosts immunity: Ripe papaya is extremely rich in antioxidants like beta carotene, and a good source of vitamin C and vitamin E and hence, it helps to boost the immunity during pregnancy
- Relieves constipation: Papaya is rich source of fibre. Therefore, it helps to ward off constipation, a common issue in the course of pregnancy
- Helps to resolve gastric disorders: Eating ripe papaya will ease out the bowel movement and will help to neutralize acid formation in the stomach. Therefore, eating ripe papaya during pregnancy will help to prevent heartburn and to reduce the gas formation which are most common issues that appear during pregnancy
- A rich source of vitamins and minerals: Ripe papaya is highly nutritious as it is rich in vitamins A, B, C and potassium which are all crucial during pregnancy. Therefore, eating ripe papaya helps with the healthy progression of pregnancy and development of the fetus
- Rich in folic acid: Papaya has a significant amount of folic acid. Folic Acid helps in formation of red blood cells, which is very significant during pregnancy as the blood volume increases upto 50% during pregnancy
- Keeps nausea at bay: Eating papayas as a breakfast or inbetween keeps morning sickness and nausea meals at bay
- Improves cardiovascular health: Papaya has been proven to provide to be good for colon cancer, and also improves cardiovascular health
Eating Unripe Papaya During Pregnancy
Eating unripe papaya during pregnancy poses threat for normal progression of pregnancy and development of the fetus. Unripe and even semi ripe papaya has a substance called latex. The latex contains an enzyme called papain. This enzyme possesses a major risk in the healthy advancement of pregnancy and fetal development.
Here are some significant issues caused by unripe or semi ripe papaya in pregnancy:
- Papain is known to weaken the vital membrane of the fetus and hence hinders the survival of fetus. Remember, the fetus is very sensitive during early stages of pregnancy. The latex is used to soften the meats. So, just imagine what it can do to the delicate membrane of the fetus
- Enzymes in unripe papaya put forth pressure on blood vessels which can bring out internal bleeding and heamorrhage. Even if the bleeding too less to detect, it can badly influence the development and growth of the fetus
- Enzymes in unripe papaya can also cause oedema or fluid retention. This will slow down the blood circulation, thereby impinge on the healthy fetal development
- The latex of unripe papaya contains two main enzymes, papain and chymopapain. These enzymes can give rise to physical malformation of the fetus or can bring on abortion
- Eating unripe papaya during the third trimester of pregnancy increases the chances of pre term uterine contractions and thereby can result in premature delivery
Can Papaya Cause Miscarriage In Early Pregnancy?
Papaya was used as an abortofacient in many Asian and African countries because of two enzymes, papain and chymopapain. Both these enzymes are abortifacient and teratogenic. Women would eat large quantities of raw papaya boiled in water till they had their periods. The latex in unripe papaya can cause uterine contractions and the high concentrations of Vitamin C can induce periods. Thus, eating unripe papaya, especially during the first trimester can increase the chances of abortion. These are some reasons:
- Papaya helps with bowel movement. But excess bowel movement poses pressure on uterus triggering abortion. Therefore, overeating of even ripe papaya during pregnancy can trigger abortion
- Papain, an enzyme present in the latex of papaya stimulates the contraction of the uterus thereby triggering abortion
- Unripe papaya latex can act like agents of prostaglandin and oxytocin, the two hormones responsible for starting the labour. Infact, synthetic versions of these hormones are used to induce or strengthen labor contractions
When Not To Eat Papaya During Pregnancy?
- Don’t eat papaya unripe during any stage of pregnancy. This is because, even traces of latex can affect fetal development or trigger abortion
- Don’t eat papaya during the later stage as it can induce early labor
- Don’t eat papaya if you have a history of abortion, miscarriage, or pre term labor and premature delivery
- Don’t eat papaya if you conceived after trying for a while or if undergone infertility treatment for conceiving
- Avoid eating papaya if you are allergic to latex. Reaction to latex during pregnancy can bring out potentially dangerous condition for the mother
- Avoid eating papaya if you have a history of gestational diabetes
Can I Have Papaya Milk Shake During Pregnancy?
You can make papaya milk shake by blending well the papaya pulp of ripe papaya with milk and some honey. This combination will be a treat to your taste buds and is also believed to be a health tonic. It is considered a rich source of many nutrients for both pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.
Read: What if Vomiting in last month of Pregnancy?