Foods That Can Induce Labor

Foods That Can Induce Labor
Saúl Sánchez Arias

Reviewed and approved by the nutritionist Saúl Sánchez Arias.

Last update: 09 November, 2022

There are many myths around this topic. Many people are sure that certain foods can induce labor.

Unfortunately, there isn’t sufficient scientific support for this idea. However, an expecting mother may try certain foods to see if she can speed up the birth process when she is near the end.

Is it possible that certain foods can help induce labor?

Many women with experience on this topic say yes. Others who aren’t experts wish it were true and are willing to try.

If you are curious to find out, we will give you some “recipes” for that extra boost you are looking for.

1. Aromatic plants and spices

This is a pretty well-tested idea. Many believe that plants like basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, sage, anise, or cayenne pepper can provoke uterine contractions. However, many of these are prohibited during pregnancy because they could cause a miscarriage.

It is possible that these herbs could bring on contractions, but limit the quantities and always check with an expert first.

2. Castor oil

It’s understandable that you may be afraid to try some of these foods. Myths about castor oil are archaic. This oil is produced from a toxic seed, but the oil has medicinal properties.

It is believed that castor oil can induce labor. It is capable of provoking intestinal muscles to contract. This causes uterine cramps and may trigger labor.

Foods That Can Induce Labor

3. Spicy foods

Spicy food is not recommended during pregnancy because it can be related to stomach acid and other gastrointestinal complications.

However, although it is included in the list of foods that can induce labor, there is no real evidence of it working.

4. Pineapple

This fruit has many properties. According to some mothers, it can help speed up labor. It is believed that the enzyme bromelain, which is present in fresh pineapple, is capable of causing the cervix to soften.

However, while this may be true, the amount of bromelain in pineapples is actually very low. You would have to consume large quantities of fruit to experience any notable cervix softening.

5. Raspberry leaves

The use of raspberry leaves is typically used in the preparation of relaxing teas. This means that this relaxing effect might help lower stress levels at the end of your pregnancy. Perhaps this relaxation will even reach the uterus.

6. Garlic

This goes along with aromatic plants mentioned earlier in moving the fetus along to its final position for delivery. Eating enough garlic is thought to induce labor, but has not been proven.

7. A plant called Cohosh

It’s not a very common plant, but this North American product is consumed as a tea. By drinking cohosh tea, you could provoke moderate to strong contractions.

There are no scientific studies to prove this, so it is preferable to take precautions and be in permanent contact with your doctor.

Considerations before inducing labor

As we have mentioned, the majority of foods and supplements that are believed to induce labor have not been scientifically proven. Also, they are not proven to be safe.

Foods That Can Induce Labor

As a result, before venturing to try techniques and/or products whose effects we are not certain of or pose a potential risk, the best thing to do is to limit the quantities and avoid using them when directed.

In general, alternative medicine is not recommended for pregnant women. It is a good idea to be in contact with specialists and not take unnecessary risks.

The decision to use these foods to induce labor is a personal one. We recommend sticking to the foods that we know are safe.

For example, in the case of pineapple, it’s not possible to eat too much. Other products like chocolate can be permitted on a smaller scale.

It is important not to risk our health or our baby’s health. The time to give birth will arrive. Relax and wait for labor in peace and wellness.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Artal Mittermark R. Trabajo de parto Manual MSD. Marzo 2021.
  • Faezeh M., Ganesan AP., Lang CL., Abrar Al Mahmood S., Baharudin BS., et al., Role of the serotonergic pathway in uterotonic activity of ananas comosus (L.) Merr. an in vitro and in vivo study. Phytomedicine, 2018. 48: 32-42.
  • Johnson J. E, Makaji E, et al. Effect of maternal raspberry leaf consumption in rats on pregnancy outcome and the fertility of the female offspring. Reproductive Sciences. Diciembre 2009. 16. 605-609.
  • National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Licorice root. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Agosto 2020.
  • National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Black Cohosh. U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. Junio 2020.
  • Razali N, Mohd Nahwari S. H, et al. Date fruit consumption at term: effect on length of gestation, labour and delivery. Journal of Obstetrics and Gyneacology. Julio 2017. 37 (5): 595-600.
  • Ronit G., Hagit H., Bella S., Shay P., et al., Castor oil for induction of labor in post date pregnancies: a randomized controlled trial. Women Birth, 2018. 31 (1): 26-31.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.