Does spicy food induce labor?

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: July 14th, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Enchiladas and spicy tacos have been known to cause indigestion, but can a midnight run to the border really induce childbirth?

Some women would bet on it. Others swear the key to jumpstarting labor is a hunk of pineapple or steaming plate of eggplant parmesan.

Either way, there’s no scientific evidence to back up claims that certain foods can stimulate labor in pregnant women, just anecdotal evidence passed down from one generation of mothers to new mommies-to-be.

Doctors say pregnant women can try these mythic dishes if they would like but caution women from trying any unknown herbal supplements without checking with their physicians first.

Chat rooms and Web sites across the internet tout different remedies women can try to spur labor, and different dishes are just a few of the options. Having sex, nipple stimulation or drinking a tea made with cumin seeds are other well-known natural alternatives.

Doctors warn that eating too much right before labor could make women sick, adding to their discomfort in the delivery room. Having sex to try and induce labor is also generally safe unless mom’s water has broken. In that case, it’s probably time to get to the hospital.

Some women say spending an afternoon scrubbing floors or driving on a bumpy road can help, although neither option is probably fun for a woman who is nine months’ pregnant.

If all else fails, go ahead and have the enchiladas. It has to taste better than swigging castor oil.