What is apple cider vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a food, condiment, and very popular natural home remedy.

This particular vinegar is made from fermented apples. Some kinds may contain beneficial bacteria when left unpasteurized and with the “mother”, while others are pasteurized.

Unpasteurized ACV, because it’s rich in probiotic bacteria, has many health claims. Some of these may appeal to women who are pregnant.

Consumption of bacteria might be a concern for some pregnant women, however. This article explores these concerns, as well as the safety and benefits of using ACV while pregnant.

Is ACV safe for pregnancy?

There’s no research proving that ACV specifically is either safe or unsafe for pregnancy.

Generally speaking, authorities and research suggest that pregnant women should be cautious when consuming certain unpasteurized products. These may harbor bacteria such as Listeria, Salmonella, Toxoplasma, and others.

Since the immune system is slightly compromised during pregnancy, pregnant women may be at higher risk for foodborne illness. Some of these illnesses can be deadly.

The fetus is also at higher risk to miscarriage, stillbirth, and other complications from these same pathogens.

On the other hand, all kinds of apple cider vinegar contain acetic acid. Acetic acid is known to be antimicrobial, favoring growth of only certain beneficial bacteria over others.

Studies show acetic acid can kill Salmonella bacteria. It may also kill Listeria and E. coli as well as Campylobacter.

According to this research, certain harmful pathogens that develop may not be as dangerous in apple cider vinegar as in other unpasteurized foods. Still, the jury is out on ACV’s safety until more definitive and specific research is done.

Pregnant women should only use unpasteurized apple cider vinegar with great caution and knowledge beforehand of the risks. Talk to your doctor before using unpasteurized vinegars while pregnant.

Pregnant women may instead use pasteurized apple cider vinegar safely and with no concerns. However, it may lack some of the health benefits you seek, especially ACV’s claimed probiotic benefits. Keep in mind, however, that there are safer probiotic supplements available, which don’t carry these potential risks.

Does ACV help certain symptoms of pregnancy?

Though the safety of apple cider vinegar is unproven, many pregnant women still use it as a remedy for many things. No harm or other complications have yet been reported or connected with its use during pregnancy, whether pasteurized or unpasteurized.

ACV may especially help certain symptoms or aspects of pregnancy. Remember that pasteurized apple cider vinegar is considered the safest to use.

Apple cider vinegar may help with morning sickness

Some people recommend this home remedy for morning sickness.

The acids in ACV are known to possibly help certain other gastrointestinal disturbances. As such, it may help some women with nausea brought on by pregnancy.

However, there aren’t any studies to support this use. What’s more, taking too much apple cider vinegar may cause or worsen nausea, too.

Pasteurized and unpasteurized vinegar may apply for this symptom, as it has more to do with the vinegar’s acidity than its bacteria.

To use: Mix 1 to 2 tablespoons ACV in a tall glass of water. Drink up to twice per day.

Apple cider vinegar may help with heartburn

Though it’s unclear if ACV helps morning sickness, it may help with heartburn. Pregnant women sometimes experience heartburn during their second trimester.

A study in 2016 found that ACV may help people with heartburn who didn’t respond well to over-the-counter antacids. The unpasteurized kind was specifically tested.

To use: Mix 1 to 2 tablespoons ACV in a tall glass of water. Drink up to twice per day.

Apple cider vinegar may improve digestion and metabolism

Another interesting study in 2016 showed that apple cider vinegar could alter digestive enzymes. The study was on animals.

It specifically appeared to improve the way the body digested fats and sugars. Such effects may be good, especially for type 2 diabetes, however no human studies were conducted. This raises the question if ACV may help reduce the risk of gestational diabetes.

It was unclear whether unpasteurized or pasteurized ACV was used in the study.

To use: Mix 1 to 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar in a tall glass of water. Drink up to twice per day.

Apple cider vinegar may help or prevent urinary tract and yeast infections

ACV may often be recommended for helping clear up urinary tract infections (UTIs). The same has been said about yeast infections.

Both of these can be a condition that pregnant women experience often. However, there aren’t any studies proving this works with apple cider vinegar specifically. Learn about proven ways to treat a UTI during pregnancy.

A study in 2011 did show rice vinegar helped clear up a bacterial urinary infection, though it may not be the same as apple cider vinegar.

Pasteurized or unpasteurized ACV may be used, since the most evidence for any vinegar helping with urinary tract infections was with a pasteurized rice vinegar.

To use: Mix 1 to 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar in a tall glass of water. Drink up to twice per day.

Apple cider vinegar may help with acne

Due to hormonal changes, some pregnant women may experience acne.

Some studies suggest that acetic acids, which are found in high amounts in ACV, may help fight acne. These were only effective when used in combination with certain light therapies, however.

Pasteurized or unpasteurized apple cider vinegar may be used as a topical method of treatment. This poses less of a threat of foodborne illness.

Though no studies are strong enough yet to support ACV for acne, some pregnant women report beneficial results nonetheless. It’s also safe and cheap to use. Note that there are other all-natural pregnancy acne remedies you may want to try.

To use: Mix one part ACV to three parts water. Apply to skin and acne-prone areas lightly with a cotton ball.

The bottom line

Some people may recommend or use apple cider vinegar as a home remedy for many things during pregnancy.

A lot of these uses aren’t supported by much scientific evidence. Some show more support and effectiveness from research for certain symptoms and conditions than others.

As far as we know, there are no current reports of harm from using ACV of any type during pregnancy. Still, pregnant women may want to talk to their doctors first about using unpasteurized apple cider vinegars.

For the utmost safety, avoid using vinegars with the “mother” while pregnant at all. Using pasteurized vinegars can still provide some useful health benefits during pregnancy.