Fennel Seeds During Pregnancy: Uses And Possible Side Effects

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Fennel seeds, commonly known as Saunf in Hindi, are mildly sweet and aromatic herbs used for culinary and medicinal purposes. Several women are unsure of the safety of using fennel seeds during pregnancy.

These seeds are commonly used in Indian and Middle-eastern recipes. They can also be used as mouth fresheners. However, little research has been done to understand their safety during pregnancy. Nevertheless, it is believed that consuming fennel in small quantities does not have any harmful effects on the baby.

Read this post further to learn about the benefits of eating fennel seeds during pregnancy and how to include them in your diet, and learn some of its possible side effects.

Is It Healthy To Eat Fennel Seeds During Pregnancy?

There is not enough research indicating that consumption of fennel seeds could be safe during pregnancy. However, small amounts of these seeds are not known to have any harmful effect on the mother or the baby. You may have them to get relief from gas and bloating (1).

According to Aleta Storch, MS, a Washington-based registered dietitian nutritionist, “Fennel contains compounds that have estrogenic effects that can alter the production and release of hormones associated with pregnancy and menstruation. Eating small amounts of fennel (i.e., seeds incorporated in cooking) and/or eating fennel infrequently is safe during pregnancy because these amounts will not provide enough of the compounds to negatively affect fetal development.”

How Are Fennel Seeds Useful During Pregnancy?

Fennel seeds relieve morning sickness during the first trimester.

Image: Shutterstock

Fennel seeds are used as a herbal remedy for treating certain ailments. Some of them are mentioned next.

  1. Fennel seeds are used for nausea and morning sickness that is common during pregnancy, especially the first trimester. They contain anesthetic components that help reduce the queasy feeling in the tummy (2).
  1. The anti-flatulence property of fennel seeds relaxes the intestinal muscles. It is therefore useful in giving relief from indigestion and bloating (3).
  1. They are known to stimulate the liver to produce bile, promote digestion, and thus increase appetite (4).
Quick fact
Pregnancy makes women more susceptible to dental caries. Chewing fennel seeds increases the pH of saliva and may help prevent tooth demineralization and dental caries (7) (8).

Julius Cermak, a naturopathic herbalist-practitioner and holistic health consultant from New York, says, “Fennel acts as an intestinal antispasmodic (relieves intestinal cramping), anodyne (soothes discomfort and pain), carminative (relieves gas pressure), and stomachic (tones and strengthens the stomach).”

How To Include Fennel Seeds In Pregnancy?

Fennel is used as a flavoring agent.

Image: Shutterstock

Fennel seeds are slightly sweet and have a great aroma. You can use them as:

  • Flavoring agents for cooking
  • A breath freshener after a meal
  • Herbs to make a tea that helps curb nausea

Fennel Tea Recipe For Pregnancy Nausea

Fennel tea has medicinal properties that relieve pregnancy issues.

Image: Shutterstock

Fennel tea has excellent medicinal properties and offers relief from several pregnancy issues.

You will need:

How to make:

  1. Crush or powder the fennel seeds in a blender.
  2. Take water in a bowl and bring it to a boil. Add the crushed fennel seeds into the boiling water.
  3. Close with a lid, and turn off the gas.
  4. Let it remain for five minutes and then filter the brewed tea.
  5. Mix either jaggery or honey according to your preference.
  6. Sip while warm
Quick tip
Adding half an inch of crushed ginger to the above decoction may increase its effectiveness.

Consuming fennel seeds in little amounts will not cause any harm. But, you should be cautious before including them in your pregnancy diet.

Possible Side Effects Of Eating Fennel Seeds During Pregnancy

Fennel seeds may make the skin drier.

Image: Shutterstock

Some of the potentially harmful effects of consuming fennel seeds during pregnancy are mentioned here.

  • They might affect the blood’s ability to clot. Avoid them if you have any bleeding disorder as it makes you prone to bruises and excessive bleeding.
  • Fennel seeds tend to make the skin drier and should be avoided if you have sensitive skin. People allergic to some vegetables/ plants such as carrot, celery and mugwort show allergic responses to fennel as well (5).
  • They possess emmenagogue properties and will stimulate menstrual flow, causing vaginal bleeding that could ultimately lead to miscarriage (6).

Given that there are not enough studies to determine the harmful effects and safety of fennel seeds during pregnancy, it is better to consult your Ob/GYN before consuming them. Their distinct taste and flavor may aid with morning sickness, but if taken in excess or in the presence of any underlying illness, they may cause complications. Therefore consult with your doctor about the recommended amount and opt for any safer common alternatives such as ginger or lemon that could provide similar benefits and relief from nausea or vomiting.

Infographic: Ways To Select And Store Fennel Seeds To Keep Them Fresh

In order to extract the benefits of fennel seeds, you should know how to pick the best quality and aromatic ones. Moreover, if you consume them over weeks, there is a way of storing them to retain their freshness. So explore the tips on selecting and storing fennel seeds for your pregnancy diet.

tips for selecting and storing fennel seeds [infographic]
Illustration: MomJunction Design Team

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. Joel Evans & Robin Aronson; The Whole Pregnancy Handbook: An Obstetrician’s Guide to Integrating Conventional and Alternative Medicine Before, During, and After Pregnancy
2. Dr Irina Webster; Healthy Pregnancy From A To Z: An Expectant Parent’s Guide To Wellness; page 153
3. Fennel; Flavor Essentials A Study Of Herbs And Spices; Whatcom Community College (WCC) (2009)
4. Mashalah Daneshvar et al.; Effects of biological and chemical fertilizers nitrogen on yield quality and quantity in Fennel (Foeniculumvulgare Mill); International Journal of Biosciences | IJB | (2014)
5. James L et al.; Spice allergy; CME review; Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol (2011)
6. Ouis Nawel et al.; Effect of the Essential Oils from Parsley and Fennel Seeds on the Growth of Lactobacillus Casei Subsp Rhamnosus; OMICS International (2012)
7. Pregnancy and Oral Health; CDC
8. Ajithkrishnan CG; An in-vivo evaluation of fennel seeds chewing on salivary pH; Journal of Oral Health and Community Dentistry
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