Garlic is a type of vegetable from the onion family, commonly used to add depth and flavor to a wealth of dishes.
While it’s enjoyed for its powerful aroma and distinct taste, it’s also linked to a variety of potential health benefits. That’s why it’s also available in supplement form.
If you’ve heard of garlic’s medicinal properties, you may wonder if it’s safe for expecting mothers.
This article examines the safety of garlic during pregnancy, including possible side effects and benefits.
There are a few side effects to keep in mind when it comes to garlic consumption during pregnancy.
May increase the risk of bleeding
While garlic is safe for most people in the amounts typically used in food, consuming large quantities — like what’s found in garlic supplements — may increase the risk of bleeding.
This side effect can occur in both pregnant and non-pregnant people. It’s especially important to keep this in mind if you’re taking blood-thinning medications or planning to undergo surgery.
The increased risk of bleeding may stem from garlic’s content of a sulfur compound known as ajoene. Ajoene has been shown to inhibit platelet formation. Platelets are small blood cells that help your body form clots to stop bleeding (
As such, taking garlic supplements may increase the risk of bleeding during delivery, especially if a cesarean delivery is needed.
That’s why it’s important to consult a healthcare professional before adding garlic supplements to your regimen — as with any supplements.
Could cause heartburn
Eating garlic has been associated with heartburn and indigestion in some people, especially those with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) (
For some pregnant people, it’s possible that heartburn symptoms may be triggered or worsened by eating garlic or taking garlic supplements.
So, if you experience heartburn after eating a garlic-laden dish, you may find relief by limiting your intake.
That being said, if you don’t experience any adverse effects from adding this fragrant vegetable to your diet, it’s likely safe for you to continue to do so.
Eating garlic may cause heartburn and indigestion during pregnancy, especially if you have GERD or IBS. In large quantities, it may increase the risk of bleeding — particularly during delivery or if you’re on blood thinners.
While garlic is generally considered safe during pregnancy, there’s limited evidence on the topic.
Enjoying garlic in amounts typically found in food is likely safe. Nevertheless, consuming this flavorful vegetable may be associated with GERD or IBS symptoms in some people.
Currently, there’s no official guideline for the amount of garlic that’s safe to consume per day — both for the public and those who are pregnant.
Further, there isn’t much research regarding the use of garlic supplements during pregnancy.
Since a safe daily dosage has yet to be determined, your best bet is to keep your doctor in the know about any changes to your eating plan or before using a garlic supplement.
There are no official guidelines on how much garlic is too much, so eating garlic in typical amounts as flavoring is likely safe during pregnancy. Still, it’s best to consult a doctor before taking garlic supplements.
Consuming garlic during pregnancy may come with health benefits.
May prevent preeclampsia
High blood pressure during pregnancy poses various risks, including (
- reduced blood flow
- decreased growth of the fetus
- premature delivery
However, there are limited studies on garlic’s effect on blood pressure in those who are pregnant.
One small study with 44 pregnant women at risk for preeclampsia found that taking 400 mg of garlic once daily for 9 weeks improved markers of oxidative stress. Still, the supplements did not affect overall pregnancy outcomes (
An older study with 100 pregnant women at moderate risk for preeclampsia found that taking garlic supplements did not help prevent preeclampsia (
More research is warranted to better understand garlic’s influence on blood pressure during pregnancy.
May lower the risk of spontaneous preterm delivery
An older study associated eating garlic and dried fruit with a reduced risk of spontaneous preterm delivery. The researchers speculated this could be related to garlic’s antimicrobial and prebiotic properties (
Another older study found that a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, nuts, whole grains, vegetable oil, and garlic was associated with a significant reduction in spontaneous preterm delivery (
Still, more research on the topic is needed.
May lower the risk of infection
Pregnancy can take a physical toll on your body and weaken your immune system, putting you at an increased risk for infection.
The supplement doses in these studies are routinely high in order to achieve the desired benefits. The equivalent of raw garlic is about 4–5 cloves per day.
However, to date, no studies have looked specifically at how dietary or supplemental garlic might affect the immune system in those who are pregnant.
As such, more studies are needed to learn more about garlic’s potential immune-boosting properties during pregnancy.
Consuming garlic may offer various benefits during pregnancy. Specifically, it might lower the risk of infection, spontaneous birth, and preeclampsia. However, more research is needed.
If you’re pregnant, it’s best to be careful about the foods and supplements you consume.
The amount of garlic used in foods for flavoring has not been shown to be unsafe in those who are pregnant.
On the other hand, some studies suggest that high supplemental doses might increase the risk of bleeding. This could be problematic, especially during delivery.
Ultimately, there’s a lack of research regarding the safety and benefits of consuming garlic — both in large dietary quantities and in supplement form — in those who are pregnant.
If you have questions about taking garlic while pregnant, talk with your doctor. They’ll be able to determine if this supplement is right and safe for you.
All that being said, if you enjoy the occasional spaghetti aglio e olio, garlic bread, or other garlic-laden dish, it’s likely safe to eat in moderation, whether you’re pregnant or not.