As doulas, we know pregnancy can be a beautiful time. However, we also know the end can be quite challenging, and not feeling like a beautiful time. Our clients may deal with severe heartburn, swollen ankles, and having to constantly pee. They might wonder about pineapple to induce labor.
When our clients do not have a medical complication or risk factor, and they are not beyond their due date, a medical induction is not a great option in most cases. However, even if their midwife or doctor offers an elective induction, some prefer to avoid the potential side effects of medication and interventions.
Yet wanting pregnancy to be over can lead to seeking information about home remedies which might trigger labor. One remedy your clients may hear about is eating pineapple.
Using Pineapple To Induce Labor
As doulas, you likely already know the answer to whether or not pineapple can actually be used to induce labor. However, it is helpful to understand the reason behind that answer so you can best explain it to your clients.
Pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain. The core has the most bromelain. This is an enzyme which can be used as a meat tenderizer as it can break down proteins in tissues. Ever eat a bit (or a lot) of pineapple and your mouth get a bit sore? It is from the bromelain.
The idea of using pineapple to induce labor stems from the thought that this enzyme might ripen the cervix. However, excessive amounts of fruit, especially pineapple, can cause gastric upset. Of course, gastric upset is also sometimes linked to trigger labor (which is why some attempt to use the laxative castor oil).
As doulas, we know that inducing gastric upset tends to do little in terms of labor and simply leaves pregnant people uncomfortable and even dehydrated.
How To Use Pineapple To Induce Labor
As a doula, you know it is not within scope to provide suggestions to induce labor, whether via medication or over the counter remedies. However, you will still be asked about options for triggering labor.
When attempting to induce labor, fresh raw pineapple is typically use. Some will also consume the core as it has the highest level of bromelain.
We do not have any hard and clear evidence showing the effectiveness of consuming pineapple to trigger labor. While one 2016 study found pineapple extract triggered uterotonic activity, that is different than consuming pineapple.
To reach the levels of enzyme which might cause some uterine activity would likely create significant oral and gastric discomfort. Some sources suggest one would need to consume upwards of seven raw pineapples.
If one looks hard enough, they are likely to find anecdotal stories of pineapple triggering labor. However, those consuming pineapple in an attempt to trigger labor are already full term. This means their body was likely going into labor regardless of consuming pineapple or not.
If one browses the internet, they might find a few pineapple smoothie recipes for inducing labor. However, most of those articles still say there’s no real evidence consuming pineapple will trigger labor. Of course, if your client enjoys pineapple, it can be part of a healthy diet. There is no real risk to consuming normal, culinary amounts of pineapple.
Well, no major risks. They can still experience heartburn, gastric discomfort, and oral pain. Remind clients that without major evidence, they are best off sticking to eating whatever amount they enjoy and not going overboard.
Inserting Pineapple To Induce Labor
I’m going to be honest; I was surprised to search and see some people attempting to insert pineapple vaginally. I mean, it makes sense if their goal is to ripen the cervix. However, the amount of potential pain, risk of infection, abrasions and sores from bromelain, and complete lack of evidence of potential support makes this a very, very bad idea.
Of course, as doulas, we know how desperate the end of pregnancy can seem. It is not shocking that some would attempt nearly anything to get labor going.
In my non-clinical mind, I was certain inserting pineapple was a really unsafe idea. However, I wanted to confirm with a clinical provider to be certain.
Jennifer Timbs, CPM based in Texas, stated, “Yes fruit inserted into the vagina would be bad. That is just asking for a yeast infection. The vaginal flora could definitely be impacted by inserting fruit.”
Considering the lack of concrete evidence showing pineapple triggers labor, the risk of an unpleasant infection at the end of pregnancy just is not worth it. If a client asks about this, it is within your scope to say this is not recommended but that they can and should confirm with their midwife or doctor before attempting to insert anything to trigger labor.
Is Pineapple Safe To Induce Labor?
In the absence of an allergy, there’s not likely any dangerous side effects from consuming pineapple in hopes of triggering labor.
The study mentioned above did find uterine tissue responded to pineapple extract, but direct application does not translate to an effect via the digestive system. Bromelain is likely to be impacted by stomach acid before much if any is absorbed into the system.
In short, there is not a major risk to attempting to consume a typical amount of pineapple hoping labor is near. However, consuming mass quantities has no evidence to support the risk of significant discomfort.