Your Pregnancy

Pineapple: Can You Safely Eat This Awesome Fruit When You’re Pregnant or Breastfeeding?

Could this yummy fruit actually cause premature birth?
Kyra Hewitt

There’s no use in arguing. Don’t even try. Pineapples are the best. In fact, I would go so far as to say that they are the most perfect fruit ever invented.

I love pineapple. I will eat pineapple until my mouth becomes raw, and even then, I’ll keep eating until I realize I am wasting perfectly good pineapple that I could enjoy later when I can actually taste it. My personal theory is that your mouth eventually becomes raw as some sort of defense mechanism to keep you from gorging to the point that you explode!

Now, you may have heard that pineapple is not safe to eat while pregnant or breastfeeding.

What?! Sacrilege!

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Or maybe not.

Sorry, I’m just a little passionate about food. Especially perfect food. Perfect, juicy, sweet food.

I heard this the day after my husband brought me home a big, beautiful, sure-to-be-delicious, fresh pineapple. So, of course, I didn’t waste any time to find out whether this outrageous claim was true or not.

And now that I have an answer, I will share it with all of you.

An old wives’ tale.

There are approximately a thousand and one “old wives’ tales” surrounding pregnancy.

Some are relatively accurate, while some are absolute nonsense.

One of these old wives’ tales is that pineapple is unsafe to eat while pregnant because it can cause miscarriage or premature labor. And it falls somewhere in the middle of accurate and outrageous.

There is some science behind this claim. Pineapples contain a high amount of bromelain, an enzyme that digests protein. Bromelain is what makes your mouth so sore if you eat too much pineapple; it’s literally eating you while you eat it.

Pineapple, the fruit that bites back.

Anyway, aside from a sore mouth, the reason bromelain is dangerous while pregnant is that it can soften the cervix, leading to early labor or miscarriage. It’s why you shouldn’t take bromelain capsules while pregnant.

Bromelain can also cause nausea, diarrhea, and menstrual bleeding. It can cause allergic reactions, especially if you’re already prone to allergies. Further, bromelain can increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery, which includes C-sections.

Sounds pretty bleak for all us pineapple lovers out there (which really means everyone because, seriously, who doesn’t love pineapple?)

But there’s always another side to the coin.

Yes, bromelain is bad in large doses. But while pineapples are high in bromelain, you’d have to eat a whole lot of it before the bromelain gets to a dangerous level. I’m talking like seven to ten pineapples in one go.

Even I think that’s a little excessive.

If you have a healthy pregnancy, pineapple is safe to eat in reasonable amounts. A reasonable amount being no more than 250 grams (8 ounces) in a day.

When to avoid pineapple while pregnant.

While pineapples are not dangerous for most pregnant women, there are, as always, some exceptions.

  • First trimester. It is agreed that, as a precaution, women should avoid fresh pineapple during the first trimester of pregnancy. If you need a fix, stick with canned or bottled pineapple. The process of canning/bottling removes most, if not all, bromelain from the fruit.
  • Sensitive stomach. It’s best to avoid pineapples if you have a sensitive stomach. The acidity will most likely cause some major heartburn or reflux. I had a glass of pineapple juice the other day and paid for it dearly. But I was completely fine after having a decent helping of fresh pineapple (which was most likely a case of love conquering all. Have I mentioned I love pineapple?)
  • Allergies. It seems relatively straightforward: don’t eat something you’re allergic to. But what if you don’t know if you’re allergic to pineapple or not? This seems like a weird connection, but if you’re allergic to latex or pollen, you’re probably allergic to pineapple too. Allergic reactions to pineapple include itching or swelling in your mouth, skin reactions, congestion or runny nose, or asthma. If you experience any of these after eating pineapple, call your doctor, and lay off the fruit.
  • Risky pregnancy. If you’re already at risk for a miscarriage, don’t take your chances with pineapple. While I did say that you’d have to eat a lot to get to a dangerous level of bromelain, even pineapple isn’t worth the risk of aggravating an already delicate pregnancy.
  • Gestational diabetes. Pineapples are very high in sugar. One cup of fresh pineapple has 16g of sugar. If you have GD, it may be best to skip the pineapple and choose a less sweet fruit, or at least limit your intake.

Health benefits of pineapple.

Aside from being the best tasting fruit ever, pineapples are packed full of health benefits. Not just for you, but for baby too.

  • Bromelain. I know, I know, bromelain is the big bad of this article. But it’s only a problem in high doses. You still need some in your diet. Bromelain helps to maintain a healthy bacteria level in your intestines. It can also prevent the formation, or at least reduce the discomfort of varicose veins, which are common during pregnancy. Additionally, it can help to lower your blood pressure by acting as a blood thinner and preventing blood clots.
  • Vitamin C. Pineapples are crazy high in vitamin C. One cup has 131% of your daily recommended intake. But don’t worry, you won’t overdose; vitamin C is water-soluble, so any excess is flushed out of your body. Vitamin C helps boost your immune system and promotes collagen production. Collagen is essential for the growth of your baby’s skin, cartilage, bones, and tendons.
  • Vitamin B1. This vitamin contributes to proper muscle function, and a healthy nervous system and heart.
  • Vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 gives you energy, something that I desperately need in this last trimester. It can also relieve morning sickness and help stave off anemia.
  • Dietary fiber. Constipated? Well, pineapples may help you out as there is 2g of dietary fiber in one cup of fresh pineapple.
  • Folic acid. Pineapples are a good source of folic acid, which can help prevent birth defects.
  • Diuretic property. Pineapples can help eliminate excess liquids from your body, which is good news for you with swollen feet!

Pineapples While Breastfeeding

Pineapples are generally safe to eat while pregnant, but what about afterward when baby has arrived, and it’s time to breastfeed?

Two different stages of life, two different set of rules.

Pineapples almost always wind up on the list of foods to avoid while breastfeeding, along with other acidic, high vitamin C fruits.

Vitamin C is, of course, good for you, but the acidity is also hard on your baby’s digestive tract. This can result in diaper rash, fussiness, and lots of spit up. Citrus and other acidic fruits, like pineapples, can also give your milk a pungent flavor, to which your baby may object.

All in all, it’s probably best to avoid pineapple while breastfeeding or at least limit it to a tiny amount. If you do indulge, remember that it can take up to 14 days of cutting something out of your diet before it is erased from your breast milk. So if your baby doesn’t react well to pineapple, she may be cranky for a while.

As for me, I’m not at the breastfeeding stage yet, although it’s coming soon. So, while I can, I think I’m going to send my husband out for some groceries, and pineapple will be at the top of the list.

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