An old wives’ tale that may probably hold a grain of truth, pineapples supposedly kick start labor for expecting women. Fact or folklore? Read on.
More than just your favorite summer fruit or SpongeBob Squarepants’ home of choice (who lives in a pineapple under the sea?), pineapples are a chockful of vitamins, nutrients and history. Before we jump into the main topic of this article, here are some quick fun facts about pineapples:
- The first written record of the word “pineapple” dates all the way back to 1398. English explorers coined the name due to its resemblance to pine cones.
- A pineapple looks the way it does because it is the result of several flower fruitlets that joined at the core.
- Pineapples are technically berries – not pines or apples – as the fruit is technically a bunch of berries that grow from the core.
- Christopher Columbus found pineapples in the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe in 1493.
- Although abundant in the Caribbean, pineapples are also native to Brazil and Paraguay.
- Due to its rarity, pineapples were considered as extravagant treats by American colonists.
- Hawaii was historically the largest source of pineapples to the rest of the world and especially to the U.S.
- The Hawaiian word for pineapple is “hala kahiki” – “hala” because the pineapple looks a great deal like the Hawaiian Hala fruit while “kahiki” literally means “foreign” hence the means “foreign Hala”.
- The Dole Pineapple Garden Maze is found in Oahu, Hawaii. It spans 3 acres and is formed in the shape of a giant pineapple. As tourists and visitors go around the maze, they will learn that 14,000 species of plants and flowers native to Hawaii grow in the maze.
- Currently, Cost Rica supplies 75% of Europe’s pineapples. Aside from Hawaii and Costa Rica, top-producing countries of pineapples include Brazil, Philippines and Thailand.
- A single pineapple plant can live and bear fruit for up to 50 years.
- Nutrition-wise, pineapples help boost your immune system as they are a great source of Vitamin C. Studies also show that pineapples may help ease inflammation and pain caused by arthritis.
And a last well-known fact:
Pineapples taste amazing! Whether canned or dehydrated at your local farmer’s market, it’s a sweet, fragrant summer fruit that’s a lovely addition to all kinds of delicious dishes and drinks … ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬ “If you like piña colada…” ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬
Aren’t pineapples just the best?
Now that we’ve gained all that great knowledge about pineapples, time to start with the topic at hand.
We’ll start with a question – are you pregnant and close to your due date?
Pregnancy and waiting definitely go hand-in-hand. And waiting for the baby to arrive when you are so close to your due date is possibly the longest wait of all.
Imagine being heavy with-child, your tiny one’s kicks and movements getting more and more frequent, you’re about 39 weeks along and your water hasn’t broken yet, no other signs of labor at all. But you feel so ready, your hospital bag is packed, it’s getting more and more difficult to eat, sit, stand, lie down or even sleep. With all of that going on, it can seem like there is no end in sight and you just want to get things moving along. Whatever discomfort you’re feeling though, you simply just want to see and hold your little one already.
This is probably the time you’ll start thinking – can I naturally induce labor? The answer is, “Yes, you can try”, however, before you even think about doing so, please consult your doctor to ensure yours and your baby’s safety at all times.
In 2011, a study was made on 201 women for the purpose of determining “how frequently women attempt to induce labor through non-prescribed methods”. The study’s results showed that 50% of the women that participated in the survey attempted to try natural ways to induce labor. It’s also important to note that the study further showed that the women who tried alternative ways to induce labor were younger compared to the other survey participants, had lesser parity (parity is defined as the number of births that a woman has had after 20 weeks’ gestation) and who were more likely to give birth vaginally.
Even with the above study taken into context; medical experts still say that millions of healthy babies are born up to 2 weeks before or even after the appointed due date. Therefore, you shouldn’t worry if your little one’s still contented to stay in your tummy for a bit longer. It’s recommended for pregnant women to trust their bodies and trust that nature will take its due course. Forty weeks is usually the healthiest time frame for women to give birth. Research also shows that inducing labor, albeit naturally, can increase the risk of a C-Section birth.
Kinacle believes that each pregnancy and each baby’s birth story is unique. We will always recommend for any expectant women to follow the advice of their healthcare provider before trying anything.
On that note, let’s talk about – Pregnancy and Pineapples.
Among the natural ways to encourage labor, one of the more common methods that pop up both online and in anecdotes from other moms are eating certain types of food. It’s common to hear moms who swear the last thing they ate triggered labor or caused their water to break. It can be anything: tacos, a salad, a certain type of fruit, even fast food.
But one of the more peculiar, natural labor-inducing anecdotes that abound are of those involving pineapples.
How can pineapples possibly induce labor?
In the past, when any issue in pregnancy was treated in more natural ways, women who were well past their due dates were encouraged to eat certain types of fruits or vegetables that are said to have properties that can induce labor; one of those fruits being pineapples.
We emphasize, however, that there is very little medical evidence that backs up pineapples as naturally labor-inducing. The anecdotes from moms, however, show similar stories of moms from different backgrounds, nationality, color, race and parity who swear that within 24 to 48 hours of eating pineapples, they then experienced their first signs of labor and then gave birth soon after.
Can it be a coincidence? Or is it simply, like some things – “all in the mind”? It’s hard to tell.
Here’s a theory:
It’s possible that, historically, pregnant women who were further along but still haven’t given birth were encouraged to eat pineapples because the fruit itself contained well-known impressive properties that provided several health benefits one of which is aiding in digestion. It’s quite possible, then, that women were encouraged to eat pineapples as it’s simply known to soften up the gut which is also known to stimulate the womb and therefore trigger labor.
Perhaps these stories were passed down from generation to generation, inevitably becoming an old wives’ tale that’s still shared between other moms up until today.
Even without much medical or historical data available, it’s still a fact, however, that pineapples are a great source of nutrients such as folate and vitamin C – which are generally considered healthy for pregnant women.
So, what’s in a pineapple that supposedly gives it labor-inducing properties?
Modern medicine shows evidence that pineapples actually contain a healthy mixed enzyme called Bromelain which is also thought to be the main property in a pineapple that triggers labor.
In the labor-inducing department, there’s not much to show that bromelain actually helps speed up labor but there is actual historical evidence that shows bromelain in pineapples is used as medical treatment for common ailments across Central America and South America.
An enzyme found in the stem of the pineapple plant, in the fruit itself as well as in its juice, bromelain is actually recognized as a GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) medical supplement by the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Research shows that the bromelain in pineapples is known to aid in the following:
- Improve and enhance digestion
- Reduce pain and swelling associated with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis
- Reduce soreness from tired and aching muscles
- Remove dead skin from burns (if bromelain is used as a topical cream)
- Relieve sinusitis
- Possible anti-cancer treatment
- Aid in weight loss
How much bromelain can you get from a pineapple?
Eating a few slices of pineapples actually will actually get you very little bromelain. Canned or processed pineapples may not contain any bromelain at all.
You can, however, get a good dose of bromelain by eating one entire pineapple but this is not recommended as this may not be good for your health – especially if you are pregnant. As it’s known to soften your gut, anytime during your pregnancy is a bad time for you to have a bout of diarrhea.
If you’re eating fresh pineapples, you can actually feel the bromelain in your mouth; it’s that semi-sharp, tingly feeling as soon as you take your first spoonful of pineapple.
The safest way to take in bromelain is through a pill or tablet or as a topical cream for dermatological purposes.
For pregnant women wanting to take bromelain as a supplement, please consult with your doctor or healthcare provider. Even with all its healthy medical properties, bromelain does come with side effects that include heartburn, difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting.
Due to the side effects of bromelain found in pineapples – is pineapple, then, safe for pregnant women, in the first place?
The short answer is, “Yes.” As mentioned, pineapples are also great sources of Vitamin C and folate – which are perfect for boosting both mom and baby’s immune systems.
Apart from that, pineapples are also great sources for:
- Vitamin B6 – a vitamin that cannot be produced by the body, hence it needs to be taken through food, drinks or vitamin supplements.
In other words, if you’re trying to figure out if pineapples are something you can add in your pregnancy diet, you definitely can:
- Stir fry it in a meat/vegetable dish
- Pop pineapple slices in a blender in your morning smoothie
- Put pineapples on pizza – but try a healthy, pregnancy-friendly pizza recipe
- Finally, you can also include pineapple chunks in your yogurt or a healthy, pregnancy treat or dessert.
Just remember that it’s best to take pineapples fresh and not canned or processed.
What’s the verdict – pineapples naturally induce labor: fact or folklore?
We’ll choose the safest answer – science says no, but many parents are convinced of its effectivity to induce labor so we’ll say that it’s probably a bit of both.
With little scientific evidence but lots of stories shared by moms from all over, we feel it’s safe to say that you could try adding pineapple-based drinks or dishes in your pregnancy diet plan. It helps with your digestion, it’s a great source of vitamins and minerals with folate as a huge plus and it’s just overall healthy and tastes great, too. If it helps you get to your due date just in time or even a few days prior, so much the better.
What we don’t recommend is taking in pineapples in huge quantities as an attempt to speed labor up.
Again, beware of its side effects that may not be safe for you and your baby.
Aside from pineapples, there are safer, natural ways to help trigger labor:
- Taking walks
- Constant movement
- Fruits and food – dates, papaya, raspberries (in tea form is recommended), spicy food.
Interestingly, restaurants have also been serving up labor-inducing meals for decades:
- Celebrities and expectant moms make their “pilgrimage” to the Caioti Pizza Cafe in Studio City to order the legendary, labor-inducing salad that’s said to have pregnant women’s waters breaking from as little as after four hours of eating it. It’s been around for 30 years and they are said to serve up to 8-12 pregnant women per day! Have you tried it?
- Preggo pizzas from Skipolini’s and Hawthorne’s Pizza are also notoriously known to serve labor-inducing pizza recipes. No ordinary pizzas, yeah?
- According to the Boston Globe, the hugely successful and delicious cream cheese from Eric’s La Patisserie has a “100% success rate” for inducing labor naturally for 20,000 pregnant moms to date.
As mentioned, please consult with your healthcare provider before trying anything to naturally induce labor.
There is no medical proof that pineapples can actually help you induce labor naturally but, due to the shared stories by lots of moms, it looks like it’s mom-approved, anyway. In any case, there are safer ways to try and induce labor naturally – but it still comes with risks involved. Just keep in mind to always consult your doctor and to remember that waiting for nature to take its course is still the safest way.
Have you tried anything natural to induce labor? What do you think about our pineapple blog? Let us know! We’d love to hear your stories.
This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or licensed medical professional before making any medical decisions.