Fennel During Pregnancy: Is It Recommended?

Consuming fennel during pregnancy can be beneficial as long as it's done at the recommended amounts. Learn more.
Fennel During Pregnancy: Is It Recommended?

Last update: 08 June, 2022

The consumption of plants and infusions during pregnancy generates many doubts among future mothers and recommendations can be somewhat confusing. This is the case with fennel because its use is very common in order to improve small discomforts. However, it’s necessary to be cautious when taking fennel during pregnancy.

Medicinal plants have active ingredients that exert functions in the body. Some can be counterproductive for the health of pregnant women or the fetus. On other occasions, they’re not recommended because there’s insufficient evidence about their safety.

For this reason, it’s always advisable to consult your doctor first in case of any ignorance or doubt. Furthermore, only take herbal infusions to improve discomfort (and when there are no other alternatives) and only if they’re suitable during pregnancy.

In the following article, we’ll learn more about fennel and what the main recommendations are.

Fennel infusion.

Benefits of fennel

Fennel is a plant that’s been shown to provide several health benefits. Traditionally, it’s been used to treat many ailments, from respiratory problems to a wide range of digestive, endocrine, and reproductive problems.

It’s a medicinal plant that belongs to the Umbelliferae family and is cultivated in many parts of the world. When consuming it, almost all its parts can be used: Raw or cooked (if you’re going to eat it), in infusions, and in more concentrated presentations, such as essential oils or plant extracts.

These are some of its most outstanding benefits:

  • It’s capable of stimulating the appetite.
  • Reduces bowel movements, which can help reduce gas and intestinal spasms. It’s recommended in case of heavy digestion.
  • Due to its expectorant properties, it’s useful in case of bronchitis and colds.
  • It helps improve fluid retention, as it’s a diuretic plant.
  • Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
  • Hepatic protector.
  • Antistress and anxiolytic.

Now, fennel is also one of the many plants with a function or property similar to that of estrogen. For this reason, some specialists recommend against the intake of fennel during pregnancy unless it’s recommended by your doctor.

In the case of fennel, a toxic effect on fetal cells has been observed (in animals) and there are doubts about the possible adverse effects that may appear in very concentrated doses and in the long term.

Given the possible benefits and doubts generated by the use of fennel during pregnancy, the best advice is to be cautious. Before taking it to improve some of the possible discomforts that may appear during this stage, it’s preferable to consult a specialist. Remember that, in large part, prevention is due to the fact that there’s no scientific evidence concerning its harmlessness.

If you want to eat fennel, there’s no problem when it comes to enjoying this plant as long as consumption is moderate. Whether raw or cooked, fennel can be included in an infinity of very nutritious dishes and recipes: Salads, vegetable stews, vegetable creams, roasted in the oven, sautéed, etc.

Apart from the bulb, the seeds can also be used to give flavor and aroma to certain dishes and sauces. For this purpose, it can be added to flatulent vegetables (to help reduce gas), meat stews, soups, or in bread and biscuit preparations.

In the case of preparations with higher concentrations of fennel (such as infusions, plant extracts, or essential oils), it’s better to avoid them during pregnancy.

Infusions that can be consumed during pregnancy

Surely you already know that coffee and tea should be avoided during pregnancy, as they can cause problems in the development of the fetus or have an abortive effect. However, there are some infusions that can be ingested without contraindications, becoming beneficial in certain cases.

A woman drinking a fennel infusion during pregnancy.

The most common are ginger and rooibos. Both stand out for their antioxidant properties. In addition, they’re capable of calming the nausea that occurs during the first months of pregnancy.

Use fennel with caution during pregnancy

In principle, the use of fennel during pregnancy as a food, in moderate amounts and with caution, is safe during pregnancy. This can be part of the healthy, balanced, and varied diet that’s necessary in order to have a successful pregnancy.

Plant infusions and plant supplements are often used to improve some recurring discomforts during pregnancy: Heavy digestion, vomiting, nausea, colds, or urinary tract infections. In many cases, they produce peace of mind, as they’re considered natural, healthy, and with minimal risks.

However, occasionally, they can also cause problems. The most notorious risks are spontaneous miscarriage, premature birth, toxicity for the mother and the fetus, or allergic reactions (among others).

For this reason, experts recommend not taking them, as there are also not enough data on their safety. If you think that fennel can help you in some way, consult your gynecologist about the suitability of taking it on an occasional basis.

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