Can eating spicy food really trigger labor?

February 13, 2014 2:56 PM by

In your search for natural pregnancy tips, you may have come across certain ways that women might be able to trigger labor. After all, who wouldn't like to speed up the process in the ninth month of pregnancy, when you're likely sick of being pregnant and can't wait to get that baby out of you? Things like having sex, getting acupuncture and going for a long walk are some ways that women try to get the process going. Another popular method is eating spicy food. But does eating that burrito or sriracha sauce really trigger labor? Here's the lowdown.

Myth or fact?
There's no scientific evidence proving that eating spicy foods can induce labor. There's no known food that has the potential to get women's contractions going, and scientists aren't even 100 percent sure why labor begins when it does in the first place. Some think it's the fetus that sends a signal to make the uterus contract – which has nothing to do with what's in your stomach. Since nothing can be proved, this method is considered a myth.

Legitimate theories
However, even though it's not proven, there are many women who claim it was that hot sauce that got them going. So if it really was, why would this happen? There are several theories as to why spicy foods might have an effect on labor.

  • Stimulate or irritate: Spicy food has a tendency to stimulate or irritate the digestive system. Some think that since the intestines are irritated and they're located right near the uterus, the irritation can trigger the uterus to start contracting. It might even cause diarrhea, which can cause dehydration. Dehydration has a tendency to cause contractions in pregnant women as a side effect.
  • Secrete hormones: Hot meals might also stimulate the production of prostaglandin, a hormone that helps contract the smooth muscles of the body that is known to play a role in inducing labor.

Worth a shot?
When it comes down to it, eating something spicy isn't a surefire way to speed up the time between now and when you get to finally hold your baby. But, while there's no need to force yourself to eat something that makes your eyes water and your nose run, it doesn't hurt to give it a chance if you happen to be a fan of spicy dishes. Feel free to add a little extra zest to a home-cooked meal with whatever happens to be the hottest thing in your spice rack, or treat yourself to a meal out at a Mexican, Asian or Indian restaurant and order something with as many red chili peppers next to it as possible on the menu. Who knows? You could end the meal having to rush to the hospital with your contractions already underway. And, if you don't, at least you ate a delicious meal to satisfy your pregnancy cravings!

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