Experts agree that pregnant women should eat as much fruit as possible to keep their bodies and their babies as healthy has possible. Fruits contain essential vitamins and nutrients that help women stay strong and maintain a healthy weight. Some studies even show that the food you eat during your pregnancy will affect your baby’s food preferences later in life, so it’s a good idea to get him or her into as many different healthy foods as possible while still in the womb. While most fruits are safe as long as they are washed, studies show that papaya is not always a healthy choice for pregnant women.

As long as papaya is ripe, it is safe for pregnant women to consume. Papaya even relieves constipation and heartburn, which are two common side effects of pregnancy. If you do eat it though, you should remove the skin and seeds, as these have been associated with some negative birth outcomes. However, if the papaya is not ripe, it could pose a serious threat to your baby. A recent study showed that pregnant women who consumed unripe papaya were more likely to have miscarriages and stillbirth. Preterm birth was an even more common side effect. Unripe papaya contains high levels of a chemical called latex. Latex has special properties that may cause contractions. Obviously, preterm birth is not as serious as the other possible side effects from eating unripe papaya, but it can have serious side effects on its own. Babies that are born preterm might have learning or physical development problems, and these problems could affect them for the rest of their life.

Many pregnant women simply choose to avoid papaya during their baby’s development altogether. Deciding whether the fruit is ripe enough can be extremely difficult, and the level of risk is too high. If you are unsure about it, you should just eat other fruits instead to play it safe. You should also speak with your health care provider about the risks, as he or she might have insights into other ways to get the same nutritional value. Papaya is good for you, but other fruits and vegetables are just as good, so eat those instead. If you’re a die-hard papaya fan and simply cannot give it up for nine whole months, do continue eating it, but be extra careful not to eat it before the fruit is fully ripened.

Source: KL Krishna et al: Review on Nutritional, Medicinal and Pharmacological Properties of Papaya. Indian Journal of Nature Products and Resources Volume 7 Issue 4 August 2008