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Commonly, pregnant women who are in their 39th or 40th week of pregnancy often try natural ways to induce labor through constant research on medically reviewed websites. However, the golden question remains unanswered, do foods help in inducing labor? Most importantly, are they safe to practice?
Let’s find out in the article below!
Do Foods Help in Inducing Labor?
According to medical science, there is no special miraculous food of course that induces labor. Perhaps, then why do a large number of to-be-moms talk about foods that kick-started their labor? This is because, there are foods that bring on labor by diarrhea or gastrointestinal distress, which includes cramping and uterine contractions as well.
So, if the body is ready to go into labor, these cramping and contractions, caused by the GI distress, process faster.
Warning: They could have side effects that range from being uncomfortable with hours spent in the restroom to dehydration. However, if you are thinking of and are about to start implementing these foods in your diet, make sure to consult your doctor for his/her/their approval to avoid any foreseen problems.
Now, let’s cut to the chase, what are these foods?
Foods That Help to Induce Labor
We at Parenthood bliss have curated a list below of the natural ways to induce labor with foods and drinks. These also include the suggestions by science referring to each of them:
1) Castor oil
According to researchers, some observations claim castor oil brings on contractions and has been used to kick-start labor for generations. However, today doctors do not recommend the use of castor oil to induce labor as much as they did in the older generation, considering its intense laxative effect that results in severe discomfort and dehydration.
2) Evening Primrose Oil
Irrespective of the recent clinical trial that observed evening primrose oil to not be effective in inducing labor, the practitioners do recommend the intake of primrose oil to induce labor keeping in mind the omega-3 fatty acid called gamma-linolenic acid, or GLA (a precursor to prostaglandins). These prostaglandins are found in the sperm, which helps soften the cervix when preparing for birth.
3) Red raspberry leaf tea
This red raspberry leaf tea is made from the leaves of the red raspberry plant that helps boost the blood flow to the uterus, triggering contractions, as well as, helping in postpartum recovery. However, there are no studies to prove it. Raspberry leaves contain a compound called fragarine that helps in toning and tightening pelvic muscles, including the uterine walls. This helps in an easy childbirth.
The pineapple is known to induce labor due to the presence of the enzyme bromelain which softens the cervix and triggers contractions. However, this too isn’t supported by a theory or any clinical evidence. A study showed that pineapple extracts in the uterus can cause it to contract but it was directly placed in the uterus and not consumed by mouth.
5) Spicy Food
This can help irritate the intestines which results in cramping and uterine contractions just like castor oil. No major study supports this fact but one theory has found a link between consuming spicy food and the onset of labor. The only concern is that it focuses only on preterm labor and not on pregnant women at 40 weeks or beyond. Be cautious to not have way too much spicy food as it could result in heartburn.
There are studies about the consumption of dates, where one study talked about 69 pregnant women who consumed about 6 dates per day 4 weeks before their EDD, who had gone into labor naturally. The other observed no impact on starting labor but did help with the later stages of the trimester.
Dates have high contents of fiber that cause cramping and digestive issues, therefore, make sure you consult your practitioner in concern on the amounts to prevent any side effects.
There is no medical proof that talks of the eggplant helping induce labor but there are observations of the plant helping kick-starter labor due to the famous eggplant parmesan dish. There is a lore that talks of women who ate the dish having gone into labor within two days.
8) Balsamic vinegar
Balsamic vinegar is another ingredient with no specific evidence but it is also known for its reputation of jump-starting labor via the “maternity salad” dish made from a homemade balsamic vinegar dressing. So, maybe try the recipe out? If not labor you have a delicious dish to enjoy with!
Haven said all that, we almost forgot, are these foods that help get labor safe to eat? Let’s find out.
Is It Safe to Consume The Foods Inducing Labor?
The only way out here is to talk to your healthcare provider before taking either of the supplements mentioned above, like red raspberry leaf tea, castor oil, or evening primrose oil. Thus, foods mentioned to kick start the labor like pineapple, dates, eggplant parm, and spicy dishes are generally safe to consume.
However, make sure they are taken in moderation during pregnancy as they can lead to heartburn, an upset stomach, or even you being stuck in the bathroom.
As far as inducing is concerned, we understand the last weeks of pregnancy could be frustrating, as well as uncomfortable, which is why you must keep in mind that safety and keeping yourself along with the baby is of utmost priority. Also, that post consuming these GI-distressing foods, you might not be able to sleep, eat and stay hydrated.
Therefore, to avoid it all, be gentle and patient in the rough time and consult the doctor on the natural ways to induce labor once you’ve reached the due date. They will help you with the acceptable doses and the particular food that will not cause any harm.
What Foods to Avoid When Trying to Induce Labor?
In addition to the foods to avoid during pregnancy, here is a list of two foods that do induce labor but must be avoided or must be consumed in accepted amounts as per the guidelines of the doctor.
- Licorice root: As per a recent study, there is a chemical in the black licorice root (glycyrrhizin) that has been linked to preterm births and has potential long-term health risks when consumed in large quantities.
- Black or blue cohosh: Black cohosh has been suggested as a uterine stimulant that helps kick-start labor but isn’t backed by a study. However, like all herbal supplements, it must be consumed with caution in pregnancy as it has dangerous effects that could be linked to serious health problems in both, the mother and the baby.
When Should You Call a Doctor?
While you are trying to induce labor via natural ways, it is recommended to always have the doctor in the loop especially when it comes to induction. This is because, during the last weeks of pregnancy, there can be complications that might turn out to be ugly and can be easily prevented with the help of the doctor.
The last weeks of pregnancy can be quite difficult and uncomfortable, but it is also true that there is no proof that the foods can help induce labor until and unless your body is ready. At times, it is best to make the most of the waiting.
Disclaimer: Make sure you have consulted a doctor and are inducing labor only by the 40th week and not before. Also, if you end up having abdominal cramping, low back pain, or bleeding, seek medical attention immediately.