Do These 9 Foods Induce Labor?

At 39(ish) weeks, you’ll do just about anything to have your baby. And we’re not even talking about the desperation you feel if you’re already well past your due date. You’ve experimented with all the things that are supposed to induce labor. Exercise? Check. Acupuncture? Check. Sex? Check, check. But what about labor-inducing foods? Are they just an old-wives’ tale? There isn’t much scientific basis for eating them or not eating them, so it’s possible. Since you’re well past the point of no return, anything seems worth trying. For anxious AF expectant mothers who just want to get things moving, here are 9 popular foods that can speed up labor.




Pineapple contains an enzyme called Bromelain, which you can’t find really in any other foods. It helps to soften your cervix and stimulate the smooth muscles, which can speed up labor. And forget the canned pineapple; fresh is best.


Black Licorice

Because black licorice contains the chemical glycyrrhizin, it can stimulate the production of prostaglandins. Consuming too much causes a chain reaction of mild diarrhea, followed by minor contractions in the intestines and then the uterus, thus beginning labor.


Spicy Foods

Spicy foods make the list because they are known to stimulate the digestive system. But ladies, be careful. The end goal is a natural and pain-free birth. As a baby comes down the birth canal, endorphins are released which counteract pain. Certain spicy foods contain capsaicin and that can block endorphins.



One of the most popular foods for inducing labor (and killing romance), garlic stimulates the bowels. This helps them to empty out, which in turn can help speed up the time between now and delivery day.


Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

Don’t ask us how, but red raspberry leaf tea can tone and strengthen your uterus. And you know what they say about a strong uterus…it’s ready for contractions! Drinking from week 32 on can also reduce your risk of going beyond your due date. We’ll drink to that!


Castor Oil

Yes, this really is as disgusting as it sounds. And oddly enough, women have consumed castor oil to induce labor for YEARS. When extracted straight from the bean of the plant, it can jump start labor quickly.


Green Papaya

The enzyme Papin is abundant in raw green papayas. And the leaves contain latex. When you combine the two, they act as prostaglandin and oxytocin. Which in turn, you guessed it, can bring on contractions. The trick is to find green papayas because as the fruit ripens, the more papin is lost.


Cumin Tea

Cumin is a natural and common way to regulate your digestive tract. It’s also known to have healing effects with bloating and menstruation. Popular as a “down there” stimulant, cumin tea can also induce natural labor.


Black Cohosh

Black Cohosh is a medicinal herb that has been found to produce similar effects as oestrogen, which is naturally produced in the body. It is often used to treat women’s health issues related to menstruation, menopause and for speeding up the labor process.


As with anything that involves the health and safety of your baby, you’ll want to check with your primary care doctor or OBGYN before consuming any of these foods. And if your doctor gives you the green light, why not give them a shot? You have nothing to lose, and a sweet, healthy and angelic little baby to gain.

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What food induces labor?

There are no labor-inducing foods that are consistently backed by research. Among the rumored foods that can induce labor are dates, spicy food, pineapple, castor oil and evening primrose, but some can produce side effects such as gastrointestinal discomfort like cramping.

How can I induce labor naturally?

The list of strategies for inducing labor naturally ranges in success and with generally no research support. Due to the unique features of each pregnancy, it is important to refer to a professional prior to implementing natural labor inducers. Among the potential natural techniques are:  
• Acupuncture
• Acupressure
• Evening primrose oil
• Exercise
• Sex
• Nipple stimulation
• Red raspberry leaf tea
• Massage
• Castor oil
• Membrane stripping

What triggers the start of labor?

Professionals are still learning what triggers the start of labor, but with the idea of biological communication from baby to mother signaling that labor needs to occur. New research points to the role of telomeres—part of the DNA—that enter the amniotic fluid as part of a signal to start labor. Other professionals point to the role of hormones as a trigger to initiate labor. The exact reason for why labor begins is not always known.

Does pineapple induce labor?

Although the belief that an enzyme found in pineapple—bromelain—can initiate labor by softening the cervix, no research supports the claim.