Many foods, from dates to pineapple to the eggplant parmigiana at an Atlanta1 restaurant, have been claimed to help people at the end of their pregnancies go into labor. As you watch your due date approach and maybe even pass, you may be tempted to try, well, anything to help start the process.

But these claims about food-inducing labor are more old wives’ tales than proven fact. In some cases, there may be a kernel of science. For instance, spicy food can irritate the gut, which may cause uterine contractions. But there’s no evidence that will send you straight to the labor and delivery ward. The same with foods like papaya and pineapple. Enzymes in these fruits are thought by some to trigger contractions. But the evidence that this can put you into labor is lacking.

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There is one food, however, that may be deserving of its labor-inducing reputation: Dates. Research from one small study suggests that pregnant people who include dates in their daily diet during the last month of pregnancy may be more likely to go into labor on their own than those who don’t eat any dates.2

Scientists say more studies are needed to know if dates can truly help ready your body for labor. But, if you like dates and they work with your other nutrition needs, there’s likely no harm in including them. It’s always a good idea to check in with your dietitian or doctor before adding in any completely new-to-you food.

In general, though, your best bet when it comes to eating for the big day is to continue with a balanced, varied diet that includes foods rich in iron, calcium, Omega-3 fatty acids and more. Do make sure to drink plenty of fluids; being well-hydrated when you finally go into labor will help you have energy for the big push. Water, decaf coffee or tea, seltzer, 100% fruit juice, ice pops and even fluid-rich fruits like melon can help you reach this goal.

Want more tips on how to meet your late-pregnancy nutrition needs? Schedule an appointment with a Teladoc registered dietitian. If you’re interested in working with a dietitian, register or log in to your Teladoc account now to get started.

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Published May 26, 2022


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