6 Foods That Induce Labor (to try when past your due date!)

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As you start inching closer to your due date, you’re probably exhausted from carrying that little life inside of you. You might even be hunting for natural ways to induce labor. Truth is, there is actually quite a lot that you can do to jump start labor, but one that tops the list is almost always food. 

There are certain foods that induce labor in a way that’s safe and natural, and women have been using them for decades, if not more. While a lot of these labor inducing foods are thought to be purely a myth, there’s actually some science to back up some other foods. 

Let’s take a quick look and dive into the world of these foods that are supposed to help bring labor on more quickly.

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The advice included in this article is meant for informational purposes only. Please consult your care provider before making any decisions regarding your pregnancy.

How Do Foods Help Induce Labor?

It turns out, yes, foods do help induce labor.

They work just as effectively as other things you could do- like going for a long walk, exercising, and having sex. Though there’s no guarantee you’ll be on your way to the hospital soon after, there’s a good chance it might help kickstart things. 

Different foods are thought to help induce labor in different ways. Some contain enzymes that are believed to soften the cervix and initiate contractions. Other foods work by bringing on diarrhea and gastrointestinal distress, which can initiate cramping and in turn, labor.

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Is it Safe to Use Foods to Induce Labor?

All of the foods on this list are safe to consume. Try them in moderation and see if they kick start your labor. Keep in mind that overdoing anything can and will pose health risks to both you and your baby. 

Start by trying out one food in moderation and if that doesn’t work, give yourself a little break before trying out another.

Read more about preparing for natural labor.

List Foods that Induce Labor Naturally

There are actually quite a few foods out there that have a reputation for inducing labor. Most of them are actually studied scientifically, and they have lived up to their claims.

Here is a quick list of foods that induce labor, with tips about how you can include them in your meals. 

Need pregnancy meal ideas? Check out these healthy pregnancy recipes.

1) Red Raspberry Leaf Tea to Induce Labor

Red raspberry leaf tea is one of the most popular foods on this list, and practically any other list you’ll come across out there. Midwives swear by raspberry leaf tea benefits during pregnancy not just for initiating contractions, but also its effectiveness in strengthening the uterus and preparing it for labor. 

This raspberry iced tea pregnancy recipe is great to have throughout pregnancy during every trimester.

Having it every day from the thirty-second week of your pregnancy is believed to reduce your chances of going beyond your due date. You can safely drink up to 3 cups a day during the 3rd trimester. This brand is my favorite.

How much red raspberry tea to drink to induce labor?

If your due date is within days, or you are over due, you can try making a “labor tea” with red raspberry leaf. To make labor tea, steep 1/4 to 1/2 cup red raspberry leaf in 32 oz of water overnight. Add sweetener if you wish and drink the next morning. Repeat if necessary.

This is also a helpful drink for when you know labor is starting, as it can help make labor faster and easier for many mothers.

2) Eating Dates to Induce Labor

There’s a lot of buzz around this one in particular. Dates are actually incredibly healthy and can be a quick energy source for you when you’re feeling tired or exhausted.

But that’s not all-having more of these date recipes for pregnancy towards the end of your pregnancy is thought to be helpful in triggering labor. A lot of midwives highly recommend them too.

Plus, eating dates is also believed to reduce the amount of time you spend in labor and make you likely to have a higher cervical dilation as you make your way to the hospital. 

There are a bunch of clinical trials and studies that have confirmed that women who consumed more dates towards the end of their third trimester were less likely to be induced. 

The best part is, you don’t actually need to put in an effort to turn these into a meal- you can have them just like that or in a date smoothie to induce labor.

Or try this No Bake Date Ball Recipe for Pregnancy – the best pregnancy energy bites! Makes a great labor snack.

3) Evening Primrose Oil

Ingesting evening primrose oil either orally or vaginally is thought to be beneficial in triggering contractions. A lot of midwives recommend it, as is it believed to help soften the cervix and begin labor naturally. 

The oil contains an omega 3 fatty acid known as gamma-linoleic acid, which is a precursor to prostaglandins- a hormone that is known to prepare the body, particularly the cervix, for birth.  

You can either take it in pill form to get the benefits, or apply evening primrose oil daily after 35 weeks to help ready your cervix and reduce the risk of tearing during delivery.

4) Pineapple

This tropical fruit is another favorite among moms, and that’s simply because it almost always works. Pineapple contains an enzyme known as bromelain which is believed to soften the cervix and stimulate the smooth muscles in there, which can, in turn, initiate labor. 

There are a lot of ways to enjoy this sweet and juicy fruit- you can add it to your bowl of salad or add it to pregnancy smoothie recipes. And when you don’t want to put in a lot of effort, just chop it up and enjoy it as is.

5) Licorice

Black licorice, in specific, is another food that is thought to be helpful in inducing labor. It contains a chemical known as glycyrrhizin which can stimulate the production of prostaglandins, which in turn can stimulate contractions and help initiate labor. 

To give this one the most chances of working, make sure to get a “real” licorice (like this one) that has licorice extract as the main ingredient. Always read the ingredients first, as many of the products labeled licorice also include sugar and added fillers that should be avoided.

It is super easy to have this candy-like food. Just remember to keep your intake levels below 100g a day, and you should be good. 

Find more healthy pregnancy snacks here.

6) Spicy Food

There are a lot of theories revolving around how spicy food could possibly help initiate labor.

If there’s one particular item on this list that has been found to have the best success rate, it is this.

There are a couple of reasons why it might work. First, spicy food can stimulate the digestive system which can begin mild contractions. Second, it is also believed to release a chemical known as prostaglandins, which can help get things going. 

If your taste buds can handle the heat, go on and experiment with this. Remember not to overdo it and increase the spice levels beyond what you can tolerate. 

Try some hot wings, this Sweet and Spicy Meatloaf or this Authentic Crawfish Etouffee.

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Foods NOT to try to induce labor

There are quite a few other popular foods that didn’t make it to the list, and that’s simply because they are either dangerous and cause uncomfortable symptoms, or are potentially just old wives’ tales.

Foods to avoid to induce Labor:

  • castor oil by itself
  • balsamic vinegar
  • black cohosh
  • green papaya
  • cumin tea

If you still want to consider trying them out, make sure you speak to your doctor or midwife before you do, to rule out any potential risks. 

Did you try any of these foods to induce labor? Did it work? Share with us in the comments below!

More On Getting Ready for Labor & Childbirth

TOP Things to do before your baby arrives

7 Tips for Having a Natural Childbirth

The Difference Preparation Makes in Natural Birth

Pregnancy Yoga for a Normal Delivery – best exercise for getting your body ready for the work of childbirth

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Download 4 free printable birth affirmations to help keep your mind focused during pregnancy and childbirth. Birth Affirmations are a great tool to help YOU achieve a natural childbirth.

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