Do These Labor-Inducing Foods Really Work?

See what other mamas swear helped them get labor started—and what doctors have to say about whether any specific foods can really help kick-start labor.

Pregnant Woman Pizza Labor Inducing epicseurope/Shutterstock
The first time you hear your due date? Well, it's pretty surreal: This random day on the calendar, a day that likely never meant anything to you before, takes on the signifigance of The Day You'll Officially Become a Mom (or so you think). You'll repeat that magical date over and over again—to strangers, family, and friends. But when you're five days past that day? You've likely forgotten all about its magic and you're just ready to have a baby. Um, now, please.

That's why so many women look for natural ways—like that infamous labor-indicing salad—to help speed along the whole let's-deliver-a-baby process. But do any specific foods really help induce labor? Fit Pregnancy readers have claimed all sorts of culinary hacks, cake to spicy food, helped them have their babies. Here's what some of them said—and what experts have to say, too!

Spicy...and sweet!

While most stories revolve around spicy foods, several people swear that sweet foods were the ones that helped encourage their baby's arrival. Elise Bauer swore by baby shower cake, while Jammie Scott added a little sweetness to a takeout standard. "Pineapples on the pizza and a walk on the beach worked for me," she says. 

But indeed, some mamas we spoke to claimed spicy foods did the trick. "I drank some raspberry leaf tea with cinnamon, and went into labor 20 minutes later," Lydia Ceniceros says. Kelly Tagney created an interesting concoction: "I took a shot of apple cider vinegar with pineapple juice and cayenne pepper and my water broke hours later!"

One mama even opted for a way less tantalizing option: Samantha Thomas Hayworth downed a shot of balsamic vinegar!

Food for thought

But while some people swear by downing pineapples or pineapple juice or even this special salad dressing from a restaurant, is there any fact behind the concept of labor-inducing foods? According to OB/GYN, author and women's health expert, Sherry Ross, MD, not really.

"No one really knows the exact triggers that put a woman into labor," she says. "Many women deliver around 40 weeks but the range is typically 37 to 42 weeks. It's thought that once the baby's lungs are fully developed, a specific protein is released initiating labor to begin."

So why do so many women look in the kitchen for ways to get that overdue baby on its way out? Dr. Ross speculates it's thanks to the heirloom advice we're fed from the second we announce we're expecting. "There are many suggestions given by friends, mothers, grandmothers and next-door neighbors about activities that will 'definitely' put you into labor," she says. "They include eating spicy foods, drinking special teas, having mind-blowing sex, explosive (and multiple!) orgasms, intense exercise workouts and, of course, labor-inducing acupuncture. Unfortunately these recommendations are also known as old wives tales! If any of these suggestions put a woman into labor it's just a wonderful coincidence."

So should you nosh on a loaded pizza or a bowlful of pineapple once your due date comes... and goes? If that's what you're craving, go for it—just don't expect any one ingredient to kick-start your labor.

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