Fresh fruits, juices and vegetables are recommended in the healthy diet of an expecting woman. But we are also handed a list of do’s and don’ts along with foods to avoid during pregnancy. Speaking of papaya (papita पपीता), it is a big pear-shaped fruit, with sweet taste and is termed as “Angel of fruits” due to its numerous benefits for health and skin. Papaya is a rich source of Vitamin A, vitamin B, beta-carotene, potassium and vitamin C and its regular consumption keeps eyesight normal. Despite, so many benefits, consumption of papaya is not recommended during pregnancy. Papayas and pregnancy do not go hand in hand and it is always a question whether to eat papaya or not during pregnancy. Although ripe papaya is considered safe during pregnancy, yet there has been a debate on whether papaya should be consumed during pregnancy or not. Not only our elders, but doctors as well have always advised to abstain from unripe or raw papaya during pregnancy. Why? Read below to know everything about papayas and pregnancy.
Papaya, especially if it is semi ripe or unripe, contains oedema, a latex type substance which causes bleeding of placenta. Therefore, consumption of papaya in early pregnancy can lead to miscarriage. Additionally, papain and pepsin in papaya can retard the growth of the fetus – by hampering cell development and weakening the fetal membranes. Papaya also increases the risk of implantation loss and embryo toxicity, as suggested by scientific researches. In Asian countries of India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, it is believed that unripe papaya was actually used to carry out abortions by women in the past. Hence, papaya has been used as abortifacient for centuries, and even now women who are trying to get pregnant are advised not to consume papaya.
During later months of gestation, it may induce early labor. Papain enzyme in papaya latex activates the hormones like prostaglandin and oxytocin that are known to initiate labor contractions. Infact, it is given to pregnant women to start labor at the later stages of pregnancy. For this reason, unripe papaya is never advised to pregnant women. Given the complications, many women choose to eliminate papaya altogether from their diet. Bleeding and hemorrhaging from the edge of the placenta can also be caused by consumption of raw papaya during pregnancy.
Be careful of what goes in your mouth during pregnancy, it’s not just you, a small life is blossoming within you. Keep away from raw papayas and dishes which use them. For instance, avoid halwa made from raw papaya and salads, especially Thai salads which contain raw papaya.
Papaya is rich in fiber and consuming it in the form of juice or smoothie negates this benefit. The tetra packed papaya juice may be made from the papaya concentrate, which could have higher content of latex or papain. Therefore, avoid these and go for home-made juice. The preservatives and added sugar may rob the juice of its beneficial properties. Consume fresh and in small quantities. Be careful if you have unpleasant past pregnancy experiences or food allergies.
When consumed in moderate amounts, ripe papayas during pregnancy can prove to be beneficial as:
Fully ripe papayas are generally considered safe during pregnancy. It is the raw papaya that contains high content of latex. Eating unripe papaya can have the harmful effects on your pregnancy, and may even ruin the pregnancy altogether:
As such, ripe papayas offer a range of benefits during pregnancy. They are rich in Vitamin A, C and soothe indigestion. It has high antioxidant content and boosts immunity. The most common problem of constipation during pregnancy can be countered naturally through papayas. Many women prepare something as a health tonic by mixing papaya, milk and honey. This mixture is believed to be a rich source of many essential nutrients for pregnant and nursing women. However, consult your obstetrician regarding regular consumption.
Women become more sensitive during pregnancy and more susceptible to contracting allergies. Since papaya contains latex, the latex allergy may have fatal reactions and harm the baby.
Due to its ability to induce labor and cause abortion, unripe papaya is also used as a natural contraceptive. Papaya juice is particularly used to induce periods although it may not work the same way for everyone. It has been found to cause bleeding in some women, whereas no reaction was found in some. medical research in animals has confirmed the contraceptive and abortifacient capability of papaya. It is known that women who were enslaved in West Indies used to consume large amounts of raw papaya to avoid children being born into slavery – (source: https://www.anaturalcure.com/papaya-seeds-male-female-contraceptive/). Consuming papaya is, however, not a foolproof method of contraception.
Due to the controversy of consuming ripe or raw papayas, most women completely avoid papayas during pregnancy. However, if you do not have past history of pregnancy complications, then you may enjoy papaya in small quantities occasionally without worrying about its effect on your baby. In fact, papaya’s right nutrients help in the development of the baby.