You might have heard about women eating pineapple to induce labour.
If you’re heavily pregnant and keen to get labour going, you might be wondering whether this old wives’ tale could be true.
Pregnancy can be a beautiful thing.
It can also be an incredibly uncomfortable thing – especially the last few weeks.
You have swollen ankles and heartburn, and you have to pee every few minutes.
Pineapple To Induce Labour: Does It Really Work?
This can make even the happiest pregnant woman begin counting down to birth.
And it often leads them to look for ways to trigger labour.
One home remedy that’s popular is eating pineapple to get labour started.
Using Pineapple To Induce Labour
How can a fruit induce labour?
Pineapple, especially the core, contains the enzyme bromelain.
This enzyme breaks down proteins in tissue. It’s so effective it can tenderise meat.
Bromelain is the reason your mouth develops sores and feels uncomfortable after you have eaten a lot of pineapple.
If you eat pineapple, it’s thought this enzyme might ripen the cervix.
Excess fruit can also cause gastric upset for some people. When you’re close to giving birth, upset bowels might irritate the uterus.
This can cause contractions. Some women attempt take castor oil to induce labour, for the same reason.
However, in many instances, gastric upset just leaves women exhausted and possibly dehydrated.
Using Pineapple To Induce Labour At 37 Weeks And 38 Weeks Pregnant
Until the last decade, maternity care providers considered 37 weeks to be full term.
It wasn’t uncommon for inductions to be offered to women at any time after 37 weeks.
Fortunately, we now know the last weeks of pregnancy play a vital role in your baby’s development.
Every baby is unique. Some babies are born quite healthy at 37 weeks. Many babies need the full 40 weeks, or more, to be at their healthiest.
Any birth prior to 37 weeks is premature.
- 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.
These new definitions reflect the understanding that there’s a variation in ‘normal’ pregnancy length.
This means you’re not late or overdue until 42 weeks. Going past your estimated due date doesn’t mean you’re late.
If you are thinking about trying to induce labour, consider this: your baby might not be ready to be born at 37 or 38 weeks.
Natural remedies are unlikely to work this early, anyway, if your body and your baby aren’t ready for birth.
You can read more about this in What Causes Labour To Start?.
How To Use Pineapple To Induce Labour
Women trying to use pineapple to induce labour usually use fresh raw fruit. They also consume the core, as it has the highest level of bromelain.
There’s very little evidence available regarding the effectiveness of eating pineapple to induce labour.
One study found using pineapple extract directly on uterine tissue samples caused the tissue to contract.
However, we don’t know whether consuming the fruit by mouth can trigger uterine contractions.
As with many home remedies and ‘old wives’ tales’ , there are few studies available to show whether or not they’re effective.
In order to get enough bromelain to potentially trigger labour, some suggest you’d need to consume seven pineapples.
With all that bromelain they contain, chances are your mouth would be incredibly sore and you might end up with gastric upset.
If you browse the Internet, you might find a few pineapple smoothie recipes for inducing labour.
However, most of them still say there’s no real evidence to show eating the fruit will trigger labour.
Canned Pineapple Or Pineapple Juice?
Have you ever noticed eating canned pineapple rarely causes mouth sores or discomfort?
That’s because the canning process requires heating, which reduces the amount of bromelain present. If you’re hoping to induce labour, canned pineapple won’t be of much benefit.
Tinned pineapple juice has also been processed and therefore won’t have much bromelain either.
If you were to juice a fresh pineapple at home, you might extract more bromelain. But it’s the core of the fruit that contains the highest concentration. Given its tough texture, you’re unlikely to get much core in your fresh juice.
Pineapple To Induce Labour: Success Stories
Browse enough online pregnancy groups and you’re bound to find stories from women who believed pineapple played a role in triggering their labour.
The difficult thing about assessing the effectiveness of a home remedy is there’s no way to know whether it played a role or it was simply a coincidence.
After all, the women trying these remedies are typically near, or beyond, their estimated due dates. It’s quite likely their bodies would have gone into labour regardless of what they tried.
If a woman is consuming large amounts of pineapple, chances are she’s also walking, and trying sex, acupressure and many other things.
If you want to encourage labour, you can read How To Bring On Labour Naturally – 11 Natural Methods to learn more.
Inserting Pineapple To Induce Labour
I’m going to be honest now. I was quite surprised to find some women considered inserting pineapple into their vaginas when trying to induce labour.
We can feel desperate at the end of a pregnancy – especially when we’re experiencing lots of discomfort.
I was fairly certain, though, that inserting a pineapple was not safe, and not likely to be effective. Given the lack of evidence regarding pineapple and labour, however, I decided to ask a midwife – just to be sure.
Jennifer Timbs, CPM, of Mountain Valley Homebirth & Doula Services in Pennsylvania, US, agreed: “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 to show the fruit triggers labour, and the risk of an unpleasant infection at the end of your pregnancy, the conclusion is it just isn’t worth it.
Is Pineapple Safe To Induce Labour?
In the absence of an allergy, there isn’t likely to be any dangerous side effects from consuming pineapple to induce labour.
Although the study mentioned above found uterine tissue responded to pineapple extract, it doesn’t mean direct application can affect the digestive system.
Stomach acid would affect the bromelain before much, if any, was absorbed into your system.
If you have gestational diabetes, it’s recommended you watch your fruit intake, as it will affect your blood sugar levels.
You’d need to consume a large quantity of pineapple for a small chance it might induce labour. It isn’t a great method to try if you have gestational diabetes.
Consuming large quantities of pineapple might also leave you with a sore mouth and possibly even diarrhoea.
Eating the fresh fruit to your comfort level isn’t likely to be dangerous. And perhaps it might be a stepping stone towards labour.