Are labor-inducing foods just the stuff of old-wives' tales? Perhaps. After all, there isn't much (or any) scientific basis for eating them.
But for expectant mothers who've watched their due dates come and go, anything seems worth trying. We've rounded up some of the most popular foods that moms believe speed up the time between now and delivery. Be sure to check with your doctor or health practitioner before eating anything that isn't already part of your normal diet.
- The Surprising Benefits of Eating Super-Spicy Food for Every Single Meal
- Eggplant Parm
- Pregnant Women Believe a Pizza Induces Labor—And They're Lining Up For It
At Italian restaurant Scalini's in Cobb County, Georgia, every baby picture on the wall—yes, all 300 of them—were born after their respective mothers downed a plate of the eggplant parm on the menu. Now, as reported by ABC News, Scalini's officially "guarantees" that those who eat the eggplant parm will go into labor. "Two or three years after we began, a few people had just mentioned to us they came in when they were pregnant, and ate this eggplant and had a baby a short time after that," John Bogino, one of the managers of the restaurant, told the news outlet. "One person told another, and it just grew by itself by leaps and bounds." It's only $9.95, so, if you're in the area, why not? Besides, if you don't have your "eggplant baby" within two days, you'll get a gift certificate. Pretty sweet deal.
Lemon drop cupcakes
In 2013, NBC 29 reported that a certain Charlottesville, Virginia bakery claimed to have sent at least 150 moms into labor simply by selling them a certain lemon drop cupcake. Cappellino's Crazy Cakes has since closed, unfortunately for all mothers-to-be out there, but the legend lives on: A Google search for "lemon drop cupcake" yields dozens of copy-cat recipes and even entire forums dedicated to the labor-inducing qualities of the cupcake. "Last week maybe I saw someone posted a recipie [sic] for lemon drop cupcakes that supposedly make you go into labor," wrote one commenter. "...Sunday night we made the cupcakes and baby Tylan was born at 6:05pm on Monday! Guess they really do work! Good luck ladies!"
The "Maternity Salad"
It's simply called "The Salad," it's been on the menu at Caioti Pizza Cafe for nearly 30 years, and frankly, it's no joke. Owner Carrie LaDou told TODAY.com that "pregnant women come in every day — we have between five and 20 a day — they're past due and they want to get the baby out." When LaDou was pregnant, even her own doctor told her to eat the famed salad (he didn't know she owned the restaurant that made it famous). "He told me, 'Look, there's this place in Studio City and they have this salad."
As reported by The Gainesville Sun, some Florida moms swear by, of all things, a shrimp quesadilla. When the July 14, 2012 due date of Gainesville, Florida resident Melissa Hoh came and went, her husband's friends told him about a news story they'd read in 2006 about three women going into labor a day after eating the infamous quesadilla at local restaurant Las Margaritas. Hoh and her husband laughed it off at first, but decided to grab the quesadilla for dinner that evening...and, as fate would have it, Hoh's water broke as soon as they arrived home that night. Back in 2012, Elizabeth Pacheco, a waitress at the restaurant, told the Sun, “It’s kind of silly, but we’ve heard about it. We don’t know why, but it happens. I’ve seen one of the women a few times with her baby, a little girl.”
If you can handle the heat, then go ahead and load up your plate with hot sauce. You just might get a newborn baby out of it. Why? Well, there are a few theories. Some speculate that spicy food (and, many add, Chinese food) might be able to start contractions because it thoroughly stimulates the digestive system. But others point out that there's really no connection between an expectant mother's gastrointestinal tract and her uterus (besides proximity, of course). Many theorize that it's actually the hormone produced when one consumes spicy food, prostaglandin, that gets things going. But some research shows that you should actually go easy on spicy food, which releases capsaicin that can interfere with your body's natural ability to prevent excessive pain during labor. So...never mind about the hot sauce after all.
No, not a pack of Twizzlers—real black licorice, which contains an active ingredient called glycyrrhizin. In a report published in 2002 in the American Journal of Epidemiology, Finnish researcher Timo E. Strandberg, PhD, surveyed over 1,000 Finnish women who'd just given birth and figured out how much glycyrrhizin they normally ate. (Apparently, Finns really like their licorice.) His study found that babies born to mothers who ate tons of licorice were born an average of two and a half days earlier than those born to mothers who did not eat as much licorice, and he definitively concluded that "heavy licorice (glycyrrhizin) consumption has been associated with shorter gestation." Strandberg theorized that this may be because glycyrrhizin interacts with cortisol levels, which are an important factor when it comes to when an expectant woman goes into labor. Or perhaps it speeds up labor by increasing the hormone prostaglandin. (So basically, even when science is involved, nobody has a clue.)
According to some, pineapple's the way to go—but this, too, has never been proven. The proteolytic enzyme found in fresh pineapple, bromelain, can soften the tissue surrounding the cervix, but whether or not that could actually bring about labor remains to be seen.
Red raspberry leaf tea
The operative word for this old wives' tale is "old." Using a raspberry leaf for therapeutic and medicinal purposes was first written about in 1597 in a book called "The Herbal." Today, it's not just pregnant women who still flock to the plant in tea form; red raspberry leaf tea is also used to treat gastrointestinal tract disorders, painful or heavy periods, and morning sickness. And as for quickening delivery? In a 2001 study published in the "Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health," M. Simpson and colleagues wrote that "raspberry leaf, consumed in tablet form, was found to cause no adverse effects for mother or baby, but contrary to popular belief, did not shorten the first stage of labor. The only clinically significant findings were a shortening of the second stage of labor (mean difference = 9.59 minutes) and a lower rate of forceps deliveries between the treatment group and the control group (19.3% vs. 30.4%)."
A slice of pizza
A Charlotte, North Carolina pizza restaurant, Hawthorne's New York Pizza and Bar, has become a favorite spot for pregnant women who want to get that bun (calzone?) in the oven out, once and for all. Hawthorne's New York Pizza and Bar now calls the pizza "The Inducer." The toppings? Just buffalo sauce, mozzarella, and some grilled chicken. One woman ate just a slice of the pizza before her water broke, while another had the pizza for dinner and gave birth the following morning. As owner Michael Adams told Charlotte Five "I think it's amazing. When the first person posted that our buffalo wing pizza induced their labor, several new moms followed up to say the same thing."
When all else fails, there's always...a Chalupa Supreme? Yup. According to an impassioned discussion on a pregnancy forum on What to Expect, many pregnant women believe Taco Bell can induce labor. "So my hubby came home from work yesterday and his coworker told him to tell me that apparently Taco Bell is supposed to induce labor. How??" one user wrote, and another responded that she'd "heard the same thing." Yet another chimed in, adding that she "had Taco Bell yesterday, unknowingly, and had my baby girl this morning!" There's even an offshoot converastion about whether Taco Bell cravings meant you'd have a boy. But alas, the jury is out on this one—like all the others.