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Pregnancy

Many readers have asked and suggested we extend our Soups for Children and Confinement Soups section to include a unique (but temporary) group of individuals – the expectant mother.

In Chinese traditions, it is commonly known that the first three months of pregnancy are the most critical.  I think western medicine will echo this too because the baby is just beginning to develop most of the critical pieces and there can be lots of instability.  You will too often hear people announce their pregnancy after the 3 month incubation period is over and be cautious of what they eat.

Here is a straight forward guide and list of soups safe to consume during pregnancy.  The basic concept of the Chinese soups is that none of them are extremely cooling, healing or potent in herbal additives.  Enjoy!

Black Silkie Chicken with Vegetables and Chestnuts
Chicken Herbal Soup
Fish Maw with Seabed Coconut and Pork Bones
Fish Tail Soup with Lily Bulb and Carrots
Ham Bone Sour Vegetable Soup (The sour soup will probably really hit the spot in your early months)
Orange Vegetable Fish Soup
Papaya Fish Soup
Pork Bones and Arrowroot Soup
Pork Bones with Lotus Root Soup
Red Dates and Young Coconut with Fish Tail Soup
Seabed Coconut, Carrot and Corn Soup
Tomato Fish Soup
Tri-Coloured Pepper Vegetarian Soup
Turkey Bone Sour Vegetable Soup

In general, I would recommend fish soups.  Although be careful of not using fish that are too large (due to the increased level of mercury in larger fish compared to smaller fish).

134 Comments »

  • PP says:

    Hi, I am 5 months pregnant. I cook lotus root soup with pork bone (add in Red dates & dried cuttle fish). i usually cook it at night and will keep inside the fridge over night and re-heat it again the next day for lunch and sometime for the subsequence day also. is it ok for me and my baby as the soup keep over night. Thank you.

  • LadyTong says:

    Hi PP, what I’ve heard (and scientifically it makes sense) is that if you keep it in the fridge, it slows down the speed of bacteria (if there are any in the soup). To drink it the day after, just make sure you re-boil it (over 100 degrees celcius) for at least 10 minutes to ensure any “living organisms” who have happened to find their way in is dead. I sometimes actually just boil it and don’t open the lid and can leave it in the thermal pot overnight. That’s how they actually make canned food. They process it at extremely high heat and seal it immediately in jars and then let it cool. The assumption is that since it’s boiling, no living bacteria is inside and once sealed, nothing gets inside until it’s opened. Same theory applies for using a clean spoon to scoop out things out of a jar. Sorry, getting too scientific, but to answer your question, it’s cool as long as you reboil it the day after. Hope this helps! Lisa

  • LadyTong says:

    Hi Tracy, honestly, as a western raised Chinese, I’m neutral on the bird’s nest thing so I probably am not the best person to ask. Chinese say that it’s supposed to make you white and bright and have skin as smooth as a baby’s bottom, but again, I suspect these are unfounded and not scientifically proven. Similar to Shark’s Fin, I have some reservations regarding its benefits. But, if you like the taste and texture, why not. The one thing I would say is just to eat a balanced, regular diet while pregnant. Nothing fancy, nothing over the top, nothing lacking. Take all the necessary supplements (as recommended by your doctor) and stick to your four food groups. All the best and sorry I couldn’t give anything more definitive. Lisa

  • LadyTong says:

    Hi Rain, still safe during pregnancy because it’s a warming food and your concern is with “cooling” foods according to the Chinese. Just take it in moderation, but it’s a safe bet. G’luck and all the best. Lisa

  • Wendi says:

    Hi, saw the post on ginseng and pregnancy. There are actually 2 types of ginseng, the red ginseng has heating properties while most other ginseng have cooling properties. Being brought up in a Chinese household, we do follow diets based on body heat and foods which has always proven helpful.
    Personally I have had 3 healthy babies with no problems during my younger days, lived in US then and never bothered about old Chinese beliefs or pregnancy diets. However, with my current pregnancy, probably due to age, I noticed brown spotting, and it scares me, as I had a miscarriage a few years ago. First time at 8 weeks, I had craving for grass jelly (one of the most cooling foods), I succumbed to eating a whole tub and immediately after a few hours started having spotting for 2 days after. I was so fearful and had to immediately call my doctor for progesterone pills. Second incident, at 11 weeks, I had 2 slices of watermelon, then thereafter, had 5 spoons of cold ice jelly (which is not regular jelly, it’s a cooling dessert that my mum has already warned me never to eat!). And again, when I woke up in the morning, I had spotting! I do believe now that old Chinese sayings and practices are not baseless, and founded by Chinese doctors the old tech way. While many experiencing generally healthy pregnancies may not need to worry, it may just make a difference to those who are at high risk.

  • Suzanna says:

    I am 8th pregnant. What kind of soup, food, or diet should I be drinking, eating or keeping? Is there any food that I should avoid in specific?

  • mommy2be says:

    Ny sister in law just gave birth. Chinese tradition, I’m suppose to go over her house and drink chicken with wine. Can I drink this?

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear mommy2be, that is an interesting tradition, I’ll have to ask about it! How many months are you? If you’re towards your final trimester, I’d say it’s OK, but avoid it during your first. As well, the Chinese wines used are quite strong, so my gut feeling would be to say to just take one sip out of politeness and not drink too much. Err on the side of caution with your baby, but if this is tradition and there are lots of people who you know do it, then why not? I’m sorry I’m not very concrete, but some traditions to some people seem strange, while to others, completely normal! Lisa

  • PP says:

    Hi,
    I am detected with Gestational Diabetic at month 5, and i start avoid chicken soup with red dates until now (month 6.5) as people said red dates very sweet. My question is, should i totally avoid chinese herbal soup? What kind of chinese herbal soup is actually ok for diabetic control? i feel like weak now with all the diabetic control diet 🙁

  • Kei Yang says:

    Hi CS,
    I’m currently pregnant, but the thing is i contacted hyperthyroidism. I have an overactive thyroid and too much iodine rich food is a no-no for me. Are there any soups that would fit me? thank you 🙂

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear PP, agree with avoiding the sugary soups. There are many that don’t have such high sugar contents – such as https://www.thechinesesouplady.com/coconut-chinese-yam-and-fresh-conch-in-chicken-broth/ or anything with chicken, conch, Chinese Yam is OK. Avoid the fruit soups (such as snow pears, apples and watermelon) and focus on the more savory soups. Also pork based soups are good with veggies. G’luck! Lisa

  • Hen says:

    Hi, Is it safe to drink ching bo leung during your 1st 3 month of pregnancy?

  • Suzanna says:

    What kinds of soup is recommended for the last trimester? I am about 2 weeks away from my due date. I am a first-time mom.

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Suzanna, there are plenty of soups for the 3rd trimester and you can actually drink more “cooling” soups. To be frank, the Chinese actually promote eating Watermelon or Green Bean Soup when you’re close to giving birth to help progress that quicker! You can also drink confinement soups as well, as that’s good for you in general, so your choices are quite broad.

    Try these (I’d also try more natural soups, less preservatives or preserved ingredients):

    https://www.thechinesesouplady.com/vegetarian-snow-pear-and-corn-soup/
    https://www.thechinesesouplady.com/snow-pears-and-apples-in-chicken-broth/
    https://www.thechinesesouplady.com/quick-boil-wintermelon-beef/

    Congrats! and hope this helps! Lisa

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Hen, maybe not. Ching Bo Leung is considered “cooling” and in general, it’s good to avoid cooling soups in the first trimester (ie: ginseng, watermelon, wintermelon, green bean soup) because they can potentially cause contractions and then lead to miscarriage. So better safe than sorry. Hope this helps, Lisa

  • Marble says:

    Hi,

    I love ur blog.

    Is it safe to have old chicken ‘low gai’ and abalone soup during first trimester ?

  • 16w3d says:

    Hi Lady Tong, I am 16 weeks 3 days and had 2 small bowls of a chicken stewed with hua qi shen (花旗參). What are your thoughts on this kind of ginseng chicken soup for pregnant women in their 2nd trimester?

  • Lotus23 says:

    Hi Lady Tong,

    Hope you are well.
    I am almost 6 months pregnancy and have fibroids.
    Can you recommend what food / soups to avoid:-
    a) during pregnancy
    b) during confinement

    Also the recommend time scale to take the food/soup?
    Thank you very much.

    Regards,

    Lotus23

  • Lotus23 says:

    Lady Tong, due to my fibroids, I am cautious what I can eat for my growing baby without nourishing the fibroids. Fibroids has increased 2 cm since 8 months ago.

    Also, it was recommended that I will have Caesarean section due to fibroids and can you advise what and when to take to nourish my body.

    Thanks again for your support.

  • FTMother says:

    Hi, I read from some forums that lotus root is not safe for pregnancy. Have you heard about this before? Thanks!

  • suzy says:

    Is it OK to drink lerng cha, or something cooling when yeet hay. I’m breaking out in acne. Face is oily. And my gums hurt alot. But I’m scared to drink anything or eat anything cooling. I’m only during first trimester

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Suzy, The Chinese do recommend not drinking “too cooling” things during your first trimester because it is a potential risk for miscarriage. I wouldn’t say it’s a hard, fast rule, but it doesn’t hurt to wait. The acne is normal as the hormones in your body are changing and adjusting and everyone handles pregnancy differently. Hope this helps and congrats again! Lisa

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear FTMother, no I haven’t heard that before. It’s a pretty neutral ingredient (neither cooling nor heaty) and doesn’t have any dangerous or strange contents. I’d say lotus roots is completely safe – safe enough for young children as well! Lisa

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Lotus23, I’m sorry that I can’t make any recommendations given your condition. I’d recommend seeing a Chinese doctor and/or your Western doctor to ask about ingredients to avoid and/or increase consumption. Of course, neutral soups are always the best (ie: soups in this category: https://www.thechinesesouplady.com/pregnancy-soups/). Apologies I couldn’t be of more help. Lisa

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear 16w3d, no problems for 2nd trimester for ginseng chicken soup. I’d say after the 2nd trimester, it’s safe to consume “more cooling” foods, although, everything in moderation. Hope this helps! Lisa

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Marble, both ok for old chicken and abalone – they are actually more neutral/slightly heaty ingredients. Congrats! Lisa

  • suzy says:

    I’m 2 months and a little more pregnant. And I feel that I am “yeet hay”. And I know I’m not suppose to drink herbal tea. Or anything “lerng “. But it’s really irratating me because when ever I’m “yeet hay” my gums are swollen and I burp and pass gas alot. What should I do?

  • Amanda says:

    Dear LadyTong,

    Thank you for setting up this meaningful site to us preggies.

    I’m a vegetarian and have been browsing through your recipes and realise most of it contains meat or fish. If I do not input any meat or substitute with my vegetarian meat, would that make it less nutrients or even not having the effect after? Perhaps you might have other remedy for vegetarians during confinement? Thank you in advance.

  • Happy Magnet says:

    Dear LadyTong,

    Thanks for your receipes and tips! Your website is a wonderful find for me, as I’m in the 2nd trimester with our first baby, and unfortunately, my mum is no longer around to make all the wonderful, nutritious soups for me… I’d like to try making some of the fish soup, but note that the recipes require some frying of the fish before cooking in the soup.

    1) Is it ok to just put the raw fish in the soup bag (without frying) and cook the soup right away, maybe add some ginger to remove any fishinesss? (For ease and less cleaning post-cooking as frying usually entails more cleaning of the kitchen and floor after that!)

    2) During pregnancy, if ginger is used in cooking the fish soup, would this affect milk production after delivery? I was cautioned from taking ginger for this reason. Is there a link between the two?

    3) Is it ok to fry more fish at a go, say for 2 portions of soup, and keep some in the refrigerator to use in the next round of soup-making? How long can the fish keep without losing too much of its freshness?

    Thank you in advance.

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Happy Magnet,

    Thanks for your comments.

    1. you can just put fish in a bag, but the frying and ginger does lessen the fishiness and also has a “refreshing” and unique taste because of the frying. I can’t explain it, but try both and you should be able to tell the difference. But I agree that it is more trouble to fry it and clean.

    2. Actually, ginger is recommended after delivery and I don’t think it affects milk production at all. I was eating ginger like vitamins and still managed to breast feed. Just read up breastfeeding and how to increase milk supply – which mainly is make it appear to increase demand and your body will increase supply.

    3. Totally OK to fry more fish – just keep it fresh (or even freeze it). Even better is to make the soup base (with fish) and freeze that!

    Hope this helps and congrats!
    Lisa

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Amanda,
    Here’s the link to the vegetarian soups – I have many! Hope this helps!

    https://www.thechinesesouplady.com/?cat=63

    As for confinement soups – I agree that most confinement soups have meats – you can try some of them without meats – like:

    https://www.thechinesesouplady.com/papaya-fish-soup/ (with just the papaya and no fish)
    https://www.thechinesesouplady.com/chicken-herbal-soup/ (without the chicken)

    Hope this helps and your suggestion is a good one. I will consider adding more soups for confinement for vegetarians! Lisa

  • Becca says:

    Hi,

    Can I know if first trimester can drink ginseng Qing bu tang?

  • Tangerine says:

    Hi Lady Tong,
    Thank you for all the recipes and great tips on your website. It is definitely a go-to guide for me.

    I am 22 weeks pregnant. Is it safe to consume black silkie chicken soup?

  • Sally says:

    Hi there,
    Are there any good soups that expel dampness but not cooling?
    And any that expel dampness okay to consume during pregnancy?
    Thanks

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Tangerine – yes black silkie chicken soup is totally OK. What other ingredients are you mixing it with really depends on whether you should drink it. At 22 weeks though, the Chinese say you’re beyond the “3 month” delicate period – so in general, you can eat/drink anything. Just stick to the basic recommendations from your docs, ie: small fish (avoid mercury), avoid sushi – but everyone is different when it comes to their pregnancy, so I say eat what you’re comfortable with! G’luck, congrats and all the best! Lisa

  • LadyTong says:

    Hi Becca, it’s cautioned from the Chinese to avoid drinking “too cooling” drinks/teas/soups during the first trimester. Every woman is different though and will process it differently depending on her condition, physical healthy. location, diet and overall well being, but to be safe, maybe avoid until second trimester. Hope this helps and congrats! Lisa

  • Baby_angels says:

    Hi Lisa!
    Love your site, I’m so happy that I found this!
    I’m 5 wks, 3 days preg..is there a list or on your website about too cooling, or different properties of food that pregnant woman should avoid?
    Thanks in advance!

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Baby Angels,
    You can read our post on Confinement #6 where there is a section of foods to avoid! But you give us a great idea for a separate post (which we will do shortly!). Congrats! Lisa

  • Heidi says:

    Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for your resourceful website. May I ask whether a pregnant women in her 1st trimester can drink Chicken Soup with Ginger and Wine that is usually prepared for confinement?

    Just had 2 bowls before I realized it.

    Please advise.

    Thanks,
    Heidi

  • cin says:

    Dear Ms Thong,

    Truly happy to have found your website! I’m a Dutch born Chinese (and can’t read Chinese). I can’t wait to make your recipes! I’ve missed them from my mum so much!!!!!
    Also, thanks for the confinement subject on your site. I spoke about them just recently and had no clue how to prepare them! But now I can with your recipes! Very thankful!!

    Cheers,
    Cin

    Ps) I love how you also show the photo’s and Chinese characters with the ingredients (that I can show at the Chinese supermarket!)

  • Nicolet says:

    Hi,
    Thank you for all the soup recipes. Love em!

    I am just curious, can we boil these soups without meat. I’m a vegetarian. I’ve been using a little bit of organic vegetable bouillon for my soups so far. I know it doesn’t give as much taste as meat or bones. Do you have any suggestions on what to substitute meat/bones/seafood for people like me?

    Thanks!

  • Hiroko F says:

    Hello,
    We are planning for a pregnancy..is there any soup that I can take/cook to enhance the inner health(you know) before the beautiful day? Thank You

  • baby says:

    Hello ladytong,

    Im in my first trimester and im feeling sick with congestion and phlegm. Can you recommend what soups are suitable for the first trimester, the second and third. Thank you.

  • kimchi says:

    Hello Lady Tong,

    I’m in my first trimester. Can I drink Black Bean Soup? Thank you.

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear kimchi, it’s perfectly OK to drink black bean soup during your first trimester! Black beans are considered a postpartum friend, so drink away! Lisa

  • Anpanman says:

    Hi Lady Tong,

    I wish I have come across your article earlier. I am 6 weeks pregnant. 2days ago, I went to drink a bowl of Ginseng Chicken double boiled soup. That night, I broke up in sweat and had a bad headache. I was running a fever too. I am sure it wasn’t any virus or flu as there was no symptoms.
    Yesterday, I was so weak that I couldn’t bring myself out of bed. Thankfully, there isn’t any spotting. Hope everything is ok. I will be visiting the gynae next week.
    Will not drink ginseng again for the next few weeks.

  • Summer Tan says:

    Dear Lady Tong,

    Is old cucumber soup suitable for pregnant during 3rd trimester??

  • LadyTong says:

    Dear Summer, yup! By the third trimester, you should be pretty OK on any foods (cooling or warming). Some people even promote eating watermelon once you’re full term! Lisa

  • Eve says:

    Dear lady tong,
    I had very bad vomiting during my 1st tri. And now im going to enter 16weeks. I always want to have soup for my daily meals. But I not sure which type of soup should I consider. I love lotus soup, chicken Herbal soup, black bean soup, and chicken feet with snow fungus soup. I not sure is it ok for me continue drink those soup, pls advice. Is there any other soup can be recommend to me? Tq

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