9 Foods To Induce Labor Naturally

Foods To Induce Labor Naturally

Image: Shutterstock/iStock

You have been waiting for 40 weeks and are at the end of your pregnancy. You may feel that your waters might break anytime now, there are no signs of contractions or pain.

When labor does not begin naturally, doctors may consider inducing labor through some medications or other techniques. But what if we told you can induce labor by eating certain foods?

Here, MomJunction tells you all about the foods you can eat to induce labor naturally. Read on to bring on natural 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 to 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.

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Labor Inducing Recipes To Try

1. Eggplant Parmesan

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

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

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 350oF.
  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

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

Hot wings

Image: iStock

You will need:

  • One bag 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.

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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.

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It is advisable to take your doctor’s advice when you are planning to take any of these foods for labor induction. This would help in lowering the possible risks to both the mother and the baby. When unsure about a food, avoid it.

Would you try these natural labor inducers or rather go for medical intervention to trigger labor pains? Share your views in the comment section.

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