Eating Betel Leaf (Paan) during Pregnancy


Having betel leaf is quite a common thing in our country and families. Betel leaf brings its own share of benefits for the body and has known to have an impact on the appetite as well. At times, you might even crave for a meetha paan during pregnancy and want to relish those flavours. But is it safe for the baby or does it have harmful effects? Let’s find out.

Is Eating Paan Safe In Pregnancy?

Betel leaf might be a healthy choice for many. However, it is recommended to avoid having it while you are pregnant.

Having betel leaves with betel nuts has revealed to show a harmful impact on the health, even resulting in cancer. Many areas around the world that have a tradition of regularly eating betel leaves, even while pregnant, have shown higher cases of pregnancy complications, birth disorders, and so on.

Why is Betel Leaf Consumption Common During Pregnancy?

Most pregnant women that continue to eat betel leaves during pregnancy, do so as a result of long-held traditions in families and neighbourhoods. There are reports of betel leaves aiding the process of digestions and stimulating the appetite of a person. In certain areas, betel leaves are applied on the breasts while breastfeeding in order to boost the production of milk.

Betel leaves do contain antioxidants in substantial quantities. These make them quite a natural cure for typical illnesses and issues such as a cough, dehydration, inflammation, constipation, headache, and many others.

Benefits Of Betel Leaf during Pregnancy

Betel leaf uses in pregnancy can be generally summarized as follows:

  • Due to the natural tendency of betel leaf to stimulate the appetite, eating betel leaves could help improve the digestion process in a pregnant woman and relieve any issues of constipation.
  • The multiple antioxidants and minerals present in the leaf add to the nutritive value that can be obtained by consuming them.
  • Betel leaves are traditionally covered with slaked lime, which is rumoured to help extract all the nutrients present in the leaf. However, there is no science backing this claim.

Harmful Effects Of Betel Leaf Consumption While Pregnant

  • One of the major harmful effects that has been observed in regular eaters of betel leaves is its high risk of causing cancer. Most of the times this is oral cancer that can not only affect the mother, but also the child.
  • Consumption of betel leaves during pregnancy can adversely affect the foetus present in the uterus. While it is at its most vulnerable in the development stages, this could expose the child to developing birth-related defects or could even cause a miscarriage to take place.
  • Consuming sweet paan during pregnancy may cause cancer, but there is an even higher chance of formation of mouth ulcers. At times, these take a long time to be cured. Furthermore, these can reach inside the body and affect organs like the oesophagus, larynx and the throat, causing immense discomfort.
  • Most betel leaves are mixed with tobacco when they are given from paan shops. Tobacco is a known stimulant which causes ecstasy in a person and affects the biology of the body. This could lead to addiction on one hand and may not be the right thing for the baby since these changes could deem harmful to his growth.
  • The layering of slaked lime on the layers of the leaves may not bring out all the nutrients, but can definitely result in affecting the heartbeat resulting in palpitations. Long-term damages include coronary heart diseases. At times, people do get addicted to the consumption of slaked lime, too.
  • Regular consumption of meetha paan along with all those constituents has been directly linked to the rise in weight, resulting in obesity.

Pregnancy cravings are not a new thing and nearly all mothers have cravings that can be rather strange at times. However, it is necessary to know that not all cravings are safe to be satiated and some of them can bring about long-term damage, too. Be it a craving or a long-held tradition or just a casual option, keeping betel leaves away during pregnancy is your best bet in ensuring a healthy development of your child and keeping yourself healthy to take care of him as well.

Also Read:

Fennel Seeds During Pregnancy
Tulsi during Pregnancy