Not all foods that are supposed to help induce labor are supported by research or evidence, however, towards the end of pregnancy most of them are safe for mother or child, says doctor .
While pregnancy is a joyous journey, it can also get a bit overwhelming, especially in the final stages of gestation. The anticipation of the birth can be both exciting and frightening, especially for first-time mothers.
“Often times, as the due date approaches, expectant mothers want to try and naturally speed up the birth process. They often resort to various forms of exercise, and some are even open to the practice of perineal massage or nipple stimulation techniques, and are more comfortable consuming certain foods that are believed to help induce labor ” says Dr Vanshika Gupta Adukia, pregnancy / childbirth and breastfeeding specialist, pelvic floor physiotherapist and founder of Therhappy.
“Not all foods believed to help induce labor are supported by research or evidence, however, towards the end of pregnancy most of them are safe for mother or child,” adds doctor.
- Pineapple: This fruit is one of the first to appear at the top of the “prohibited foods list” in early pregnancy. But towards the end, it is believed that pineapple can naturally help the process of inducing labor. It contains an enzyme called bromelain which is believed to help the cervical ripening process which will then cause cervical dilation.
Keep in mind that the pineapple kernel is the richest in bromelain and should be consumed as well.
- Date: Rich in fiber, the date is believed to help the cervical ripening process which can then induce labor naturally. Dates, however, are high in sugar and should be consumed wisely while cutting out other forms of sugary foods. They are not suitable for people with gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
- Unripe papaya: This is another fruit that is on the list of foods to avoid during pregnancy, but around the last days of pregnancy, raw unripe papaya can actually help with the onset of labor. It contains latex which works similarly to the hormone oxytocin and can help induce labor.
Keep in mind that ripe orange papaya would not have the same effect and it is raw unripe green papaya that one can try.
- Red Raspberry Leaf: Red raspberry leaves in tea or tincture form are believed to help strengthen uterine contractions and tone pelvic muscles. For this reason, it is believed that regular consumption of these leaves closer to the due date can help the natural labor process. As it also influences Braxton-Hicks contractions, consumption of these leaves is only recommended at the end of pregnancy, preferably after the 34th week.
“While these foods can be eaten to help induce labor, remember to trust your body and stay relaxed. The wait and watch approach also works and anxiety can actually prove to be detrimental, delaying labor instead, ”warns Dr Adukia.