Eating Fennel Seeds (Saunf) in Pregnancy: Benefits & Side Effects

Consuming Fennel Seeds (Saunf) During Pregnancy

Medically Reviewed By
Archana Shah (Diabetologist/Nutritionist/Dietitian)
View more Diabetologist/Nutritionist/Dietitian Our Panel of Experts

Hello there, new mother-to-be! You may be experiencing the wonderful changes pregnancy puts your body through – while also going through several discomforts, which are also part of the package. But that’s where home remedies and natural ways come to the rescue, right? It’s common for us to turn to the many items in our kitchen to find a natural solution to our problems, and one such common herb we tend to turn to is the fennel seed (saunf). But is it safe to consume saunf in pregnancy? Read on to find out!

What Are Fennel Seeds?

Fennel seeds are aromatic and flavoured herbs which look brown or green when fresh and turn dull grey when they age. The seeds are derived from a plant which was originally found in Europe. The plant belongs to the parsley family and has fluffy leaves. This herb is commonly found in our kitchens and is known for its medicinal properties. It is popularly known as ‘saunf’ Most of us consume it as a mouth freshener, besides using it in cooking. It has been proven beneficial for tooth pain and gum issues, besides having several other health benefits such as aiding digestion.

Nutritional Value of Saunf/Fennel Seeds

Fennel seeds, also known as saunf in Hindi, are a commonly used spice in Indian cuisine. They are widely recognised for their distinct liquorice-like flavour and aroma. But apart from their culinary uses, fennel seeds offer several health benefits. Here are 8 nutritional values of saunf/fennel seeds:

  • Rich in antioxidants: Fennel seeds contain powerful antioxidants like flavonoids, phenolic compounds, and volatile oils. These antioxidants help protect the body from damage caused by harmful free radicals.
  • Good fibre: Fennel seeds are an excellent source of dietary fibre, with about 2.9 grams of fibre per tablespoon. This makes them beneficial for digestion and can help prevent constipation.
  • Anti-inflammatory properties: Fennel seeds contain anti-inflammatory compounds like anethole and fenchone, which can help reduce inflammation.
  • High in vitamins and minerals: Fennel seeds are a rich source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, iron, and potassium. These nutrients are essential for maintaining good health.
  • Helps regulate blood sugar: Fennel seeds may help regulate blood sugar levels by slowing down glucose absorption in the intestines.
  • Promotes healthy digestion: Fennel seeds contain anethole, which can help relax the digestive muscles and promote healthy digestion. They can also help reduce bloating, gas, and other digestive issues.
  • May help reduce menstrual cramps: Fennel seeds reduce menstrual cramps and other menstrual symptoms. This is due to their antispasmodic properties.
  • Supports lactation: Fennel seeds are a traditional remedy for promoting lactation in nursing mothers. They contain phytoestrogens, which can help stimulate the production of milk.

Fennel seeds are a flavourful and nutritious spice offering several health benefits. They are rich in antioxidants, fibre, vitamins, and minerals and can help with digestion, inflammation, blood sugar regulation, and more.

Is It Healthy to Have Fennel Seeds During Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, fennel seeds are only recommended in very small amounts because they are a natural emmenagogue. This basically means that they help trigger or increase menstrual flow. You can add a small amount of these seeds (for instance, a teaspoon or so) to your food. Your doctor can help you understand how much you should be consuming basis your health requirements and conditions.

Benefits of Saunf for Pregnant Women

The following are known benefits and side effects of eating saunf for pregnant women.

  • Saunf has traditionally been used in fighting nausea and morning sickness. Eating fennel seeds helps develop an appetite, especially in the first trimester and helps control morning sickness by reducing gas and heartburn.
  • The anti-flatulence properties in saunf help relax the muscles of the digestive tract, which stimulates bile flow and helps check cramps often linked to digestion. Hence, it is quite effective in providing relief from bloating during pregnancy.
  • Most pregnant women complain of loss of appetite due to indigestion and gas. Fennel seeds are a natural carminative and help eliminate gas from the intestinal tract. This ultimately helps in better digestion, and issues related to the gut are taken care of, and the appetite returns too.

Side Effects of Eating Fennel Seeds While Pregnant

Now that you know about the benefits of fennel seeds, it is time to consider the side effects.

  • Fennel seeds affect the ability of your blood to coagulate, making the clotting process slow. So, if you suffer from a bleeding disorder, it is better to avoid fennel – especially if you are susceptible to bruises and bleeding.
  • Eating fennel seeds can make your skin dry and extremely sensitive. If you have sensitive skin, avoid fennel seeds during pregnancy.
  • The antispasmodic, phytoestrogen, and anti-inflammatory properties in fennel are found to stimulate the uterus, leading to premature contractions. However, having it in small quantities throughout the pregnancy won’t harm the foetus nor lead to premature contractions.

So, are fennel seeds good for pregnancy? There is not enough evidence to say that fennel seeds are unsafe. Likewise, there is not enough evidence that suggests fennel seeds are completely safe. There’s also the aspect to consider that foods react differently in different bodies. Hence, it is better to consult your doctor before consuming them and check the doses.

How Much Fennel Seeds Can You Consume Per Day?

Fennel seeds are generally safe and can be consumed in moderate amounts. According to the USDA, the recommended daily intake of fennel seeds for adults is about 2 to 3 grams or one tablespoon. However, it is important to note that excessive consumption of fennel seeds can cause certain side effects, such as allergic reactions, gastrointestinal issues, and hormonal imbalances.

If you have a medical condition, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or are taking medication, it is best to consult your healthcare provider before consuming fennel seeds or any other dietary supplement. It is also important to source your fennel seeds from a reputable supplier to ensure they are of good quality and contamination-free.

How to Consume Fennel Seeds in Pregnancy

If you are allowed to have fennel seeds during pregnancy, you can consume them in a few ways. Fennel seeds have a nice aroma and are slightly sweet. If added to foods while cooking, they work as a flavouring agent and impart a subtle flavour. You can also consume them in the form of tea or chew some raw after a meal. It is always advisable to check with your doctor or dietician before you include fennel seeds in your pregnancy diet.

Fennel Tea for Nausea During Pregnancy

The Food and Drug Administration of the United States has not regulated the use of herbal teas, including fennel tea, during pregnancy. When we say that herbs and herbal tea blends are not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration, the herbs do not undergo the same scrutiny as over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Note that this does not mean the FDA advises against consuming herbal teas.

To be safe, you can have fennel tea once in a while pregnant. However, you may want to check with your gynaecologist before you do so.

Making Fennel Tea for Pregnant Women

If you want to incorporate it into your diet, you may consider making a cup of fennel tea. Here is how you can brew yourself a cup of fennel tea:

  • The chief ingredients for making the tea are water, crushed fennel seeds, jaggery syrup or honey.
  • Take approximately one teaspoon of fennel seeds and then crush or powder the seeds with the help of a blender.
  • Take a pan and heat a cup of water until it boils, and then add the powdered fennel.
  • Place a lid over the pan and switch off the stove to let it cool for around five minutes. Then, slowly strain the brewed tea and mix honey or jaggery, according to your taste.

Fennel Tea for Pregnant Women

The Safety of Fennel Supplements and Fennel Oil During Pregnancy

While fennel is generally considered safe for moderate consumption, pregnant women should exercise caution when consuming fennel supplements or oil. Fennel oil should not be consumed orally during pregnancy, as it can have an estrogen-like effect and potentially disrupt hormone levels, harming both the mother and fetus. However, fennel oil can be used topically or inhaled in small amounts for therapeutic purposes under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

Fennel supplements should also be used with caution during pregnancy. Some studies suggest that fennel supplements may stimulate uterine contractions, increasing the risk of miscarriage or premature labour. Therefore, pregnant women should consult with their healthcare provider before taking fennel supplements. Additionally, it is important to note that fennel can interact with certain medications, including blood-thinning medications and may cause adverse effects in individuals with certain medical conditions. Therefore, it is important to discuss fennel supplements or fennel oil with your healthcare provider before use, especially if you are pregnant or have a medical condition.

Does Consuming Fennel Seeds During Pregnancy Lead to a Miscarriage?

Many people have fennel seeds after a meal because it helps with digestion. But it is important to remember that fennel seeds could trigger the menstrual cycle and lead to vaginal bleeding, ultimately causing a miscarriage. It is important to consume it in moderation and avoid it altogether if your doctor advises against it.

Now that you know both the benefits and side effects of having fennel seeds, check whether they are suitable for consumption while pregnant. Proceed according to medical advice only.


1. Can I Chew on Saunf Seeds in Pregnancy?

Yes, chewing on saunf (fennel seeds) in pregnancy is generally considered safe and can improve digestion and reduce nausea. However, pregnant women should consume saunf seeds in moderation and avoid consuming excessive amounts, as it can cause certain side effects.

2. Can I Eat Fennel Seeds in Every Trimester?

Yes, fennel seeds can be consumed in every trimester of pregnancy. They can help alleviate common pregnancy symptoms like bloating, gas, and indigestion. However, consuming fennel seeds in moderation is important and consult your healthcare provider before taking any supplements during pregnancy.

3. Can I Eat Fennel Seeds in Pregnancy to Improve Digestion?

Yes, fennel seeds can be beneficial for improving digestion during pregnancy. They contain anethole, a compound that can help relax the digestive muscles and promote healthy digestion. Fennel seeds can also help reduce bloating, gas, and other digestive issues. However, consuming fennel seeds in moderation is important and consult your healthcare provider before taking any supplements during pregnancy.

4. Do Fennel Seeds Give Rashes in Pregnancy?

Fennel seeds are generally safe for consumption during pregnancy and do not cause rashes. However, some individuals may be allergic to fennel seeds and may experience an allergic reaction, which can cause rashes, itching, and other symptoms. If you experience any adverse reactions after consuming fennel seeds, stop consumption and consult with your healthcare provider.

Also Read:

Green Tea during Pregnancy
Flax Seeds during Pregnancy

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