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  Is it safe for the baby if moms-to-be eat papaya?

  Healthy eating during pregnancy means choosing at least one good source of vitamin C every day. Fruits like papaya are a great way to help get the recommended 70 mg each day.

CAUTION: Make sure fresh papaya is FULLY ripe, especially when eating early in pregnancy.

Papaya serves as a natural way to soothe the heartburn experienced during pregnancy. The papaya enzyme that helps soothe indigestion is called papain, or vegetable pepsin. Papain is found in the fruit's latex and leaves. A fully ripe papaya is not considered dangerous; however, a papaya that is the least bit unripe contains a latex substance that is believed to trigger uterine contractions and may lead to early labor or miscarriage. Researchers have noted that unripe papaya latex acts like prostaglandin and oxytocin, which the body makes to start labor. Synthetic prostaglandin and oxytocin are commonly used to start or strengthen labor contractions.

It is best to avoid fresh papaya early in pregnancy unless you are 100% certain of complete ripeness. Later in pregnancy, a ripe papaya can assist with heartburn control. If your doctor has recommended natural methods for induction after 38 weeks of pregnancy, eating a slightly unripened papaya may be just the ticket.

Tanya Jolliffe, BabyFit healthy eating expert


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