By 38 to 40 weeks, most pregnant moms are ready to be done; an eviction notice is served. It’s been a long time, and you’re ready to meet your baby. That’s when you might start trying some natural yet not harmful ways to jumpstart labor, like trying some foods that induce labor.
Or do they really?
You’ll find plenty of old wives’ tales that tell you ways other women have jump started their labor, but science has yet to prove these accurate. However, eating some different foods is generally a safe thing to try and keeps you entertained in the final weeks of pregnancy.
Let’s take a look at some foods that may or may not induce labor.
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Can Foods Really Induce Labor?
Despite what your best girlfriends say, no evidence shows that there are any definite foods that induce labor. Medical science continues to say that foods won’t lead to labor, but old wives’ tales continue to this day.
So, why do some swear it works?
Some foods bring on gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea or simply a belly ache with some cramping. That leads to uterine contractions that MAY jumpstart labor.
Or, you may just have diarrhea and a stomachache.
So, the reality is that some foods caused GI distress that could cause the labor process to begin. However, that comes with the potential side effects of not feeling well for a few hours, or you may even end up dehydrated from several bouts of diarrhea.
However, if you’re looking for natural and safe ways to induce labor, trying some different foods – like hitting up a new restaurant with your girlfriends – definitely is a safer route than some other ways moms try to induce labor!
11 Foods That Induce Labor
I know I tried eating tons of pineapple in the hopes that this natural induction method would work for me.
Pineapple contains bromeliad, an enzyme that softens the cervix and stimulates contractions in the uterus to induce labor. This induction method only works with fresh pineapple; canning reduces the overall bromeliad content.
However, overeating pineapple causes diarrhea.
At the same time, you really have to eat a lot of pineapple to create the contractions needed to push your body into labor.
2. Spicy Foods
One of the most commonly chosen foods that induce labor is spicy foods. Hitting up the local Mexican or Indian restaurant in the days leading up to labor is something many pregnant mamas try in hopes of bringing their baby Earth side faster.
Spicy foods stimulate prostaglandins in your body, and it’s believed to induce contractions of the uterine walls. Peppers, the ingredient that causes the spice, contains capsaicin; this creates bowel movements that also stimulate contractions.
In general, it’s not really a good idea to cover your entire dinner with hot sauce in hopes of going into labor. Chances are you’ll simply end up with a lot of heartburn.
3. Green Papaya
Green, unripe papaya contains an enzyme called papain, and it’s believed to trigger contractions in the uterus. The unripe leaves and fruit contain latex, acting like a natural form of oxytocin and prostaglandins, stimulating uterine contractions.
It’s important to only pick unripe papaya!
Once papaya ripens, it loses the latex content, so eating the ripe fruit won’t help to induce labor.
One limited study showed that women who ate six dates each day in the four to six weeks leading up to their due dates were more likely to go into labor on their own by their due date with high cervical dilation.
However, another recent study said that there is no link to dates and jumping labor. So, you have to be the judge and decide if it’s worth trying.
It’s possible that dates could lead up to labor because they’re high in fiber. Eating a lot of fiber leads to diarrhea, which could be enough to cause uterine contractions that jumpstart labor.
That being said, no real evidence supports this idea!
5. Balsamic Vinegar
Many people associate balsamic vinegar with salads and other yummy dishes, but you might not know that it is made from white grape juice. Expecting moms can use balsamic vinegar to stimulate labor.
It’s a safer choice than castor oil and tastes a whole lot better!
6. Black Licorice
Licorice root is an herb used to create the flavoring in black licorice, so some moms believe that eating this candy will induce labor naturally. Many moms eat black licorice to reduce heartburn and other frustrating gastric issues during pregnancy.
Licorice root contains glycyrrhizin that increases the prostaglandins that create uterine contraction. However, consuming large amounts of licorice could cause preterm birth, so be careful!
Here is another one of the old wives’ tales that some swear truly works, but no one can be sure either way.
This myth is more than likely started by the famous eggplant parmesan dish from a restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia called Scalini’s. Their eggplant dish is known for its “eggplant babies” because women swear you go into labor within two days of eating it.
If you’re in the area, give it a try, or try making your own eggplant parmesan. It certainly can’t hurt you!
8. Raspberry Leaf Tea
Millions of mothers drink red raspberry leaf tea throughout the third trimester in hopes of toning uterine muscles and having a better labor. Limited studies show that consuming raspberry leaf tea helps to reduce the chances of going overdue. Some say it also helps stimulate contractions once your baby is ready.
Typically, red raspberry leaf is considered safe for baby and the mom, but the overall effectiveness of this to naturally induce labor hasn’t fully been studied.
9. Cumin Tea
Some people swear by drinking cumin tea to treat digestive problems and bloating, but it’s also said to induce labor. All you have to do is add a tablespoon of cumin to boiling water and drink it to naturally stimulate uterine contractions.
Who doesn’t love garlic?
The rumor says that garlic stimulates your bowels, encouraging them to empty, which may help to start labor. It’s actually one of the most popular foods that induce labor, and it’s safe to eat.
I mean, I use triple the amount of garlic recommended in every recipe, so trying this induction method couldn’t hurt!
11. Castor Oil
You may have heard that taking castor oil will help to induce labor, and this is one that DOES work, but you need to be cautious.
Midwives regularly recommend drinking castor oil because it stimulates uterine contractions, but it’s important to never use it before your due date. It may lead to nausea and diarrhea, and some evidence suggests that taking castor oil increases the likelihood of meconium present at birth.
If you aren’t sure about the safety of any of these foods, make sure you talk to your doctor before. Most of these foods that induce labor are things we consume on a regular basis, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be cautious while pregnant!