Eggplant? Acupuncture? Unusual Ways to Induce Labor

Can this veggie convince a baby to arrive faster?Can this veggie convince a baby to arrive faster?The photographic "baby wall" comes as a bit of a surprise if you've never been to Scalini's Restaurant in Cobb County, Georgia. All 300-plus babies were born after their mothers ate the same dish at the Italian restaurant: Eggplant Parmigiana.

The legend has been alive nearly since the restaurant opened 25 years ago, and draws masses of pregnant women through the doors ever since. Knowing that not everyone can make the trek to Georgia, the restaurant owners even posted the recipe on their website.

Not sure when to start eating Eggplant Parmigiana? Try Parents.com's Due Date Predictor.

Whether or not you're a believer in the legend, eggplant is one of many foods rumored to help start labor in a natural way. According to Sherri Ruerup, director of the Nurse Midwifery Group at Swedish Covenant Hospital, there are a number of much more precise (and tried-and-true) ways to naturally get labor going.

"I tell patients that nothing's going to throw you into labor unless you're really ready to," says Ruerup. "But there are things that can help encourage your body if it's teetering and it's almost there."

Ruerup shares the following ways with her patients to get labor going:

  1. Acupuncture

Find an acupuncturist who's comfortable with labor induction. He or she knows the pressure points that stimulate the uterus to contract, as well as speed up contractions. Ruerup tells her patients to wait until their due date to begin acupuncture.

If you can't afford the cost of acupuncture, Ruerup suggests getting a pedicure. Most of the pressure points related to the uterus are in the feet, so a pedicure/food massage may actually help to speed things along. Of course, there's no guarantee, says Ruerup, but, "It doesn't hurt, and it's a good excuse to get a pedicure."

  1. Evening Primrose Oil

Evening primrose oil is derived from a plant and the capsules can either be taken orally or inserted into the vagina. The herb's fatty acid is said to help with the hormone prostaglandin. Prostaglandins work on the intestines as well as the uterus and cervix, and have been known to help with ripening of the cervix. Ruerup tells patients they can begin taking this at 37 weeks, once they're considered full term.

  1. Castor Oil

Ruerup says she suggests castor oil only as a last resort. Midwives tend to give mixed reviews of it, because it's going to cause diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration. But it works by stimulating the bowels and, in turn, releasing prostaglandins, which can help ripen the cervix and make the uterus contract. She tells her patients to start by adding one ounce to juice and then giving themselves time to see how they respond, and not to start with this method until after their due date has passed.

In addition to the big three, Ruerup suggests the walking, sex, nipple stimulation, and spicy foods to encourage labor to begin.

By Kate Silver for Parents.com

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