StoneSprings Hospital - April 04, 2018

StoneSprings checks out the hype

Your due date is rapidly approaching and you’d like to move baby along. Your grandmother says try pineapple. Your friend mentioned the Taco Bell treatment. Do these food induction stories have any merit? We looked into the science behind the most popular foods rumored to help start labor and found that there isn’t much science at all!

Researchers have a difficult time saying for certain whether something causes the start of labor in women who are already ready to give birth. There isn’t much hard data, but here’s our verdict on the top foods to make you pop:

Taco Bell

The Taco Bell treatment recommends eating tacos or a burrito loaded with their hottest sauce.

Some people swear by spicy foods as a catalyst for labor but capsaicin, the part responsible for the heat, actually stimulates endorphins that help relieve pain, which may slow down the onset of labor.

Verdict: Spicy foods may give you wicked indigestion anyhow, so skip the drive through.


Pineapple juice has long been said to bring on labor. The truth is that pineapple contains bromelain, which actually may help soften and ripen the cervix.

Verdict: If you like it, try it! This one may actually help.

Black Licorice

Black licorice is said to stimulate labor. It does this, in large quantities, by causing cramps in the bowels and a laxative effect. Both may start uterine cramps or simply provide more room for baby to drop.

Verdict: If licorice is your jam, then go for it. Emptying your bowels is a good way to prep for the pressure of baby. Doctors sometimes recommend an enema or a gentle laxative to their late-in-the-game pregnant patients for just this reason. If licorice is not your thing, keep reading – there are plenty of other foods that do the same thing!

Eggplant Parmesan/Italian Dinner

This one is a carb load, which may help you keep up your energy during labor but the only truth to it lies in the seasonings. Lots of garlic can stimulate the bowels, and both basil and oregano are counterindicated for pregnancy so they may cause contractions.

Verdict: A good (and garlicky) dinner out is fine but use caution when applying or consuming herbal extract and oils, since they can burn skin, upset the stomach and impact breast milk.

Fruit Salad

Shopping, peeling, dicing and tossing fruit gives a nervous partner something to do. The science behind eating lots of fruit again points to its loosening effect on your digestive system.

Verdict: It’s a healthy way to empty your bowels. Add pineapple to your salad for an extra shot of good luck.

What does help?

Depending on your condition, your doctor or midwife may recommend an herbal treatment, like primrose oil, or suggest sex, which stimulates prostaglandins which soften and dilate the cervix. Nipple stimulation can also be used to induce uterine contractions but ask about this technique before trying it on your own.

Many labor and delivery nurses suggest relaxing on all fours for 5-10 minutes at a time to help move baby into the optimal position for delivery. To move things along, they also suggest semi-strenuous activity, like taking a brisk walk, climbing stairs or bouncing on an exercise ball.

The private Labor-Delivery-Recovery-Postpartum rooms at StoneSprings Hospital offer comfort and luxury along with the latest medical technology and a highly skilled care team. Schedule a tour to see the many amenities we have to offer at

tags: pregnancy