9 Foods To Induce Labor Naturally

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If you have been waiting for 40 weeks and are nearing the due date of your pregnancy, but still there are no signs of contractions or pain, your doctor may suggest inducing labor through alternative methods. They may suggest medications, exercises, or even foods to induce labor.

Certain foods may assist you in going into labor if it does not occur naturally. The therapeutic effectiveness of such techniques, however, is unknown.

Read on to learn about all of the foods you can try that may help you naturally induce labor.

Nine Foods To Induce Labor

  1. Spicy and zesty foods: Spicy dishes, be it Indian curries, Mexican or Thai dishes, are believed to induce labor. When digested, spicy foods stimulate the prostaglandins that are known to induce contractions of the uterine walls (1). Also, peppers contain an active component called capsaicin, which creates bowel movements and stimulates the womb.
  1. Pineapple: Pineapple contains bromelain, the active enzyme known for its ability to soften the cervix and thereby stimulate the contraction of the smooth muscles of the uterus to induce labor. It is best to consume fresh pineapple and not the canned one to induce labor since canning and other processes tend to reduce the bromelain content of the fruit. Do not overeat the fruit as that can lead to diarrhea (1).
  1. Papaya: Unripe papaya contains an enzyme called papain, which can trigger contractions in the uterus. Papain is considerably found in the latex of unripe leaves and fruit. This latex acts like oxytocin and prostaglandins that can stimulate contractions (2). Latex is lost in ripe papaya and therefore eating a ripe fruit will show no effect in inducing labor.
  1. Castor oil: Several midwives and doctors believe that castor oil is effective in inducing labor. However, do not use this oil to induce labor before your due date. Though it is safe, it can make you feel nauseous and lead to diarrhea (3).
  1. Balsamic vinegar: The Italian ingredient is a delicious addition to your salad (4). Made of white grape juice, it works to stimulate labor and is preferred to castor oil for its better taste (5).
  1. Raspberry leaf tea: While we don’t know how exactly red raspberry leaf tea works to induce labor, a study has found that the consumption of this tea could decrease the chances of your pregnancy extending beyond your due date. It is believed that this tea helps stimulate contractions and tones the muscles of the uterus. Though it is considered safe for the mother and the baby, more research is required to confirm its effectiveness (6).
  1. Licorice root: Black licorice is used to curb heartburn and many other gastric conditions. Licorice is also known to contain glycyrrhizin, which tends to increase prostaglandins involved in uterine contraction. However, its consumption in large amounts is associated with preterm birth (7).
  1. Cumin tea: Cumin tea, usually known for treating bloating and other digestive issues, is also helpful in inducing labor (8). Just a tablespoon of cumin in boiling water can stimulate uterine contractions.
  1. Black and blue cohosh: These two herbs work on inducing labor when used after 40 weeks of gestation. They work effectively when you have irregular or weak contractions. They work by bringing on labor in a natural way (9).

Remember, none of the above food recommendations are from a specialized doctor. The effectiveness of all these methods is not backed by research either. Some may work for you and some may not as they did for the others. So, we advise you to talk to your healthcare provider before you try any of them.

If you do not want to take the icky tasting castor oil or that bitter licorice, you may try some yummy foods.

Labor Inducing Recipes To Try

1. Eggplant Parmesan

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 3 eggplants, medium-sized
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 8 cups marinara sauce
  • Olive oil
  • Half cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Half cup grated Romano cheese
  • 2 cups Ricotta cheese
  • ½ lb mozzarella cheese, shredded

How to do:

  1. Cut the eggplants into slices and put them on a paper towel to remove any extra moisture.
  2. Add salt and keep them aside. Preheat the oven to 375oF.
  3. Dip the slices in flour and then in breadcrumbs. Sauté them in oil until both sides turn golden brown.
  4. Place them in a baking pan and top them with the sauce, followed by layers of Parmesan, Romano and Ricotta cheeses.
  5. Finally, top with mozzarella cheese and bake until it turns golden brown.

2. Red bean soup

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • ¾ cup red beans
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1.25l water
  • Little soda (optional)
  • Little salt (optional)

How to do:

  1. Soak red beans in a large bowl of water overnight.
  2. Remove the water the following day, and you can see the beans almost double their size.
  3. Put them in a slow cooker, select auto and cook for four to five hours. They will turn squishy.
  4. Add sugar according to your preference and consume.

3. Labor-inducing cookie

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½tsp baking soda
  • 1tsp ginger, finely ground
  • ¾tsp cinnamon
  • ½tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½tsp salt
  • ½tsp cloves, finely ground
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 8tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup molasses (not the blackstrap)
  • ¼ cup egg white
  • 1 cup light brown sugar

How to do:

  1. Combine flour, baking soda, ginger, cayenne pepper and salt in a small bowl.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  3. Blend unsalted butter with granulated brown sugar. Add molasses, followed by egg whites.
  4. Add dry ingredients to the above-blended mixture.
  5. Roll balls of ¾ inch, and coat them with sugar. Place them on cookie trays and bake them for eight to ten minutes.

4. Labor-inducing salad

Image: iStock

You will need:

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Red cabbage
  • Watercress
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinaigrette
  • Gorgonzola cheese

How to do:

  1. Take equal parts of Romaine lettuce, red cabbage and watercress. Rinse them properly and cut into small pieces.
  2. Take the greens in a large bowl and add some Balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
  3. Add crumbled Gorgonzola cheese on it.
  4. For making Balsamic vinaigrette dressing – Combine one cup olive oil and 1/3 cup Balsamic vinaigrette and whisk gently to make the dressing.

5. Hot wings

Image: iStock

You will need:

  • One big 5 lb bbag of frozen chicken wings
  • ½ cup butter
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • ¼ cup cumin
  • 64 oz Tabasco sauce
  • 1 tbsp white pepper
  • 1 tbsp red pepper

How to do:

  1. Put all the ingredients except the chicken wings in a crockpot. Cook on low flame for two hours while stirring occasionally.
  2. Preheat oven to 400oF.
  3. Cook chicken wings for about 30 minutes in the preheated oven. Once they get soft, cook again for 25 minutes.
  4. Transfer the wings to the crockpot containing hot sauce. Cook on low flame for one hour.
  5. Serve them hot.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long does it take to induce labor after eating spicy foods?

There is only anecdotal evidence that spicy foods induce labor. It has no scientific backing.

2. What are some hot foods that induce labor?

Curry sauces, Kimchi (Korean dish), Mexican sauces, jerk seasonings, Piri-Piri sauce, and mustard are some of the commonly used hot foods.

3. What foods should I avoid when trying to induce labor?

Greasy or heavy foods, excess caffeine, castor oil, wine and excess chocolate should be avoided when trying to induce labor.

4. Can spicy food cause preterm labor?

Yes, spicy foods can sometimes lead to gastric distress, which could end in preterm labor.

Spicy and tangy meals, pineapple, papaya, cumin tea, licorice root, and various other foods have been shown to cause uterine contractions in pregnant women. So, if you have already been 40 weeks pregnant and still haven’t had any signs of labor, you can try these foods. However, before trying any food or other measures for inducing labor, you should consult your doctor to ensure mitigating any hazards to both the mother and the baby. If you’re unsure about any particular food, it is better to avoid it.


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  2. Meera Sumanth and Ugendra K; (2013); Effect of Unripe Carica Papaya on Uterus.
  3. Isabella Neri et al.; (2018); Castor oil for induction of labour: a retrospective study.
  4. Balsamic Vinegar.
  5. Marit L. Bovbjerg et al.; (2014); What Started Your Labor? Responses From Mothers in the Third Pregnancy Infection and Nutrition Study.
  6. M Simpson et al.; (2001); Raspberry leaf in pregnancy: its safety and efficacy in labor.
  7. Hesham R. Omar et al.; (2012); Licorice abuse: time to send a warning message.
  8. Does spicy food induce labor?
  9. Black Cohosh.
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Rebecca Malachi

Rebecca is a pregnancy writer and editor with a passion for delivering research-based and engaging content in areas of fertility, pregnancy, birth, and post-pregnancy. She did her graduation in Biotechnology and Genetics from Loyola Academy, Osmania University and obtained a certification in ‘Nutrition and Lifestyle in Pregnancy’ from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU). She has been into health and... more

Dr. Anita Gondy

Dr. Anita Gondy is an Ob/Gyn at The Ob-Gyn Center in Las Vegas. In practice since 1998, Dr. Gondy began her medical training at Rangaraya Medical College in Kakinada, India and completed studies at the University of Nevada School of Medicine, where she also did an obstetrics and gynecology residency. She is also a Fellow member of The American College... more