Clients frequently ask their doulas many questions. A common question is how to start labor. There are many myths surrounding what might start labor. “Can pineapple start labor?” – a common question doulas hear.
So, can pineapple start labor? In short, there is no evidence it helps. Anecdotally, some believe it does. As a doula, however, it is important we stick with evidence. In terms of anecdotal experiences starting labor, we must remember that labor is going to begin for most people regardless of anything. This can mean the “trick” did not do anything, the timing was simply a coincidence.
Why Would A Client Want Labor to Start?
In many cases, people reach what they believe is full term and assume baby is ready to be born. Understandably, the final weeks of pregnancy can be draining. However, as doulas, we can help remind them that generally, babies are born when they are ready. Estimated due dates are just that, estimates.
A typical pregnancy lasts 37-42 weeks. However, that does not necessarily mean a baby is ready to be born simply because they’re 37-38 weeks. Generally, 37-38 weeks means they often have mature lungs, are capable of feeding, and are less likely to need NICU support compared to their preterm peers.
However, the 37-38 weekers are still more likely to have feeding difficulties, jaundice, and other concerns compared to their 39 or more-week peers.
- Weeks 37 and 38 is early term.
- Weeks 39-40+6 is full term.
- Week 41 is late term
Post dates are after week 42.
In some cases, a client might attempt to start labor due to an impeding induction. This induction might be medically indicated, or they chose an elective induction. Regardless of the reason, your role as a doula is to help educate them about each “term” stage of birth.
Can Pineapple Start Labor? What Does Evidence Show?
As doulas, it’s important we provide evidenced based information to our clients. It’s important to share the difference between anecdotal information and accepted peer reviewed evidence.
There was one study which found using pineapple extract directly on uterine tissue samples caused the tissue to contract.
However, we don’t know whether simply eating pineapple can trigger uterine contractions. We would certainly never suggest they attempt to use pineapple internally either.
As with many home remedies and ‘old wives’ tales’, there aren’t many studies showing efficiency.
To get enough bromelain to potentially trigger labor, some suggest you’d need to consume seven pineapples. Chances are, long before one consumes seven pineapples, they’d feel quite sick!
If your clients tend to browse the internet, they may find some recipes for labor starting pineapple smoothies and such. If you’re asked about using them, remember you cannot prescribe anything. You might answer something like:
“There is not much evidence that pineapple can start labor. That said, many people enjoy pineapple. It’s unlikely to hurt anything, and perhaps labor will begin. It’s important you talk to your doctor about any supplements or herbs that might be in a smoothie though.”
You can also let them know that the bromelain which is thought to possibly impact uterine tissue can cause irritation in their mouth. Consuming too much could cause significant discomfort with low chance of triggering labor.
Does Canned Pineapple or Pineapple Juice Start Labor?
You might notice your tongue feeling funny after consuming fresh pineapple. However, this rarely happens with canned pineapple or processed pineapple juice. The process of canning or pasteurizing juice reduces bromelain and thus is unlikely to impact anything.
Pineapple can be a healthy part of a diet. It can also help stay hydrated. This means it isn’t a problem for clients to consume either, it’s just unlikely to trigger labor.
Is It Safe to Try to Start Labor?
As a doula, you should not be advising a client to start labor. However, you can provide general information which some people try to start labor.
That said, it’s also important you remind clients that correlation does not equal causation. Many people are already term, trying walking, sex, bouncing on birth balls, etc. This makes it hard to know what, if anything, triggered labor.
Unless there is a medical reason, as doulas, it can be helpful to remind clients that labor beginning on its own is often the easiest route.