Old wives tales provide a variety of foods that supposedly jump-start labor.  Everything from pineapples to black licorice to spicy foods are on the list.  As long as you don’t have an allergy to any of these foods give them all a try—the worst that could happen is some serious pregnancy heartburn.  At best you’ll go into labor; and if you don’t, perhaps you will have discovered a few new favorite recipes!

Evening Primrose Oil
Although not widely studied, this oil does contain elements that the human body transforms into prostaglandins.  So hypothetically, taking evening primrose oil could signal the body to begin labor.  Recommendations for its use vary from oral pill or vaginal suppositories or gel; if you’re considering this route, it’s best to discuss your options with a knowledgeable midwife or naturopathic doctor.  And as always  with any natural supplement ensuring its quality is important—purchase organic whenever possible.

Castor Oil
Of all of the food options you have to naturally start your labor, castor oil is by far the yuckiest.  However, civilizations as far back as the Egyptians believed in its effectiveness.  In fact, it’s awful taste may indeed be the reason some believe it triggers labor.  Once your little one gets a taste of it, he or she is probably like “I’m outta here!”.  However more likely what happens is that the bowels contract on contact and the uterus begins to sympathetically contract; castor oil is a known stimulant laxative.  As such it should not be used prior to 39 weeks of pregnancy.

Spicy Foods
Many mothers swear by spicy food; others state that it never worked for them.  Whether it’s Mexican, Indian, or straight spicy peppers, this kind of food could help to naturally start the procedure.  If you love spicy food, go for it—just be ready to deal with any pregnancy-related heartburn.  By the ninth month, heartburn is often a common complaint, and hot foods may certainly exacerbate any heartburn you may normally experience!

Black Licorice
The good stuff should contain a chemical called glycyrrhizin; this chemical is believed to stimulate the body’s production of Foods to Naturally Induce Laborprostaglandins, which in turn can start the baby process.   But like spicy foods, eating too much licorice can result in heartburn—so you’ll have to decide if  is worth risking heartburn!

Pineapple
This fruit contains enzymes that can help ripen the cervix.   The enzymes themselves cannot induce labor, but they may be able to make the body more receptive to beginning the birthing process. However, a word of caution:  the acidity in pineapples may lead to heartburn. So, it’s best to eat it in the morning or early afternoon.

Before you head out to your local grocery store, remember to get the green light from your doctor or midwife.  Foods are most effective in their raw format, as heat can destroy the compounds your body needs to try to trigger labor.  Sorry, but that pineapple upside cake won’t be as effective as just-sliced pineapple rings!  It’s also important to follow dosage directions, especially for evening primrose and castor oil; too much castor oil can result in Montezuma’s revenge, and that’s the last thing a woman in her 9th month wants to deal with!