When it comes to inducing labor, many couples turn to eggplant. But does this method actually work? Here’s what you need to know about using eggplant as a natural labor inducer.
But first, how do I know all of this? Hi — I’m Hilary — The Pregnancy Nurse 👩⚕️. I have been a nurse since 1997 and I have 20 years of OB nursing experience, I am also the curly head behind Pulling Curls and The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. 🩺 I have seen lots of women hoping to induce themselves in various methods, and can report on their efficacy. So, let’s get down to it!
As always, you’ll want to talk with your provider before you try to do things to induce labor. They can talk about the risks and benefits of certain methods with you.
Does Eggplant Induce Labor?
Eggplant is a popular vegetable, and it is often used in recipes such as eggplant parmesan. Some people believe that eating eggplant can help to induce labor.
An Italian restaurant outside of Atlanta even created an eggplant parm dish specifically for women who were 39 weeks pregnant and looking to go into labor. Hundreds of women tried the dish, and many of them reported that they went into labor within 24 hours. Some even had what are known as “eggplant babies” – babies born within a week of eating the dish!
While there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that eggplant induces labor, many women swear by it. But, again that’s not evidence.
Let me repeat that there is zero evidence that eggplant starts labor. Now, 🍆 is a different story. 😉… we’ll talk more about that.
And if you’re someone who wants to know what ACTUALLY happens in labor rather than what a lot of women think happens — come join me in The Online Prenatal Class for Couples where we give you the REAL info on labor (and you can do it while eating eggplant parm, if you want).
Why would eggplant induce labor?
It is rumored that eggplant can help induce labor due to its reputedly high content of a compound called prostaglandin. However, I can’t find any evidence that eggplants have prostaglandins (aka, human hormones).
Unless we’re talking about something often represented by an eggplant emoji (🍆)…. if you know what I mean. Yes, semen has prostaglandins — and maybe something in eggplant helps those couples get romantic? Perhaps a little nipple stim (which can cause contractions, although doesn’t usually push you into labor on its own).
Most likely it is due to the spices in the marinara sauce. Or, perhaps the pleasure and oxytocin you release when you eat that delicious cheese pull mozzarella (or Romano or Ricotta, which can all be yummy)..
Or, perhaps it was because many women were eating the dish close to their due date. If lots of pregnant women close to their due date eat something, some of them will start having contractions within 48 hours. That is true.
It would also be true if they did NOT eat something. It’s just a factor of pregnancy ending at some point.
Can certain foods really induce labor?
While certain foods, such as eggplant, can potentially stimulate labor, it is important to remember that there is no scientific evidence that proves this theory.
Eating certain types of food may make a woman more comfortable due to a full stomach and the release of endorphins associated with eating something tasty. However, these methods don’t show any clinical evidence to start labor.
Some people include Mexican (or spicy) foods, pineapple, or raspberry leaf tea as foods that induce labor. But no studies suggest any of those work. All of them are old wives tales (and eggplant is probably an old Italian wives’ tale).
What WILL Induce Labor?
I actually have a few posts asking on if certain things will induce labor:
Is it safe to eat foods that induce labor?
In general yes. Although some of these foods upset your digestion, or cause heartburn.
This is not the same as labor. So, unless you want to have GI upset or heartburn, some of them you might want to avoid (especially looking at spicy foods towards the end of pregnancy when heartburn peaks).
The Health Benefits of Eggplant When Pregnant
Eggplant is a popular vegetable that is often used in cooking. It is a good source of vitamins and minerals, and can be a healthy addition to the diet for pregnant women.
Eggplant contains high levels of folate, which is important for the development of the baby’s neural tube. It also contains antioxidants that can help to protect the developing fetus from damage caused by free radicals. Eating eggplant during pregnancy can also help to prevent constipation and promote regularity.
Should you try inducing labor yourself with certain foods?
I mean, if you like the foods and you hope they’ll kick you into labor — at least you like the foods.
Please remember that you don’t want to do anything to kickstart labor before 36-37 weeks, and after talking with your provider.
Also, remember there is a reason that the hospitals use the induction methods that they do — they work. They work predictably, with all kinds of people. So, if you want to be induced, talk with your provider about safe ways to do that after 39 weeks (prior to 39 weeks they will only induce you with a medical reason).
I have a whole video discussing the ARRIVE trial in The Online Prenatal Class for Couples if you’re looking for more information on being induced after 39 weeks of pregnancy.
Should you try castor oil to induce labor?
I have personally seen the effects of castor oil for pregnant women. It tends to be a LOT of diarrhea that lasts for a LONG time. I talk about it in my post on Midwives Brew, but just know that castor oil can be problematic for both you and the baby as it can make all of you have diarrhea, which isn’t great. I also have a post on avoiding pooping during labor (and this is NOT one of the ways).
Dehydration can be a real issue during pregnancy, and baby can poop in the womb due to the distress, but talk with your provider if you have questions about it.
Again, if you’re willing to try drastic methods like castor oil, hopefully you and your provider can have a discussion on when you might be able to schedule an elective induction.
Not trying to induce labor but looking for an eggplant parm recipe?
I think this Eggplant Parmigiana recipe by Love & Lemons looks pretty good. I also really like that you don’t have to fry it. I would recommend that if you’re close to 40 weeks, you probably not stand in front of a fryer (I think my back would break). If you don’t want to make the marinara sauce, I LOVE Rao’s. Yum!
I have made it personally a few times. Just make sure to dry the eggplant slices on paper towels well after sprinkling with salt. It helps the breading adhere to the dish better. That’s my only advice. 🙂
That’s because I’m a nurse, not a chef. I do have LOTS of advice about not feeling anxious about the labor room. So, come join me in The Online Prenatal Class for Couples today!
And, if you’re not quite sure you’re ready for that whole thing (although if you’re close enough to try to induce yourself, you don’t have a lot of time), check out my free prenatal class. It’s your first step toward getting in the driver’s seat of your birth.
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A nurse since 1997, she has worked in various fields including pediatrics, geriatrics & hospice. She has 20 years of labor and delivery experience in the San Jose, CA and Phoenix, AZ areas.
As an evidence-based prenatal educator Hilary has delivered thousands of babies and has educated hundreds of thousands of parents from a diverse patient population to help them have a confident birth.