Monday, February 11, 2013

Labor Inducing Smoothie

I sit here swaying on my yoga ball to a little Alabama Shakes (despite their Grammy shut-out) as I *joyfully* enter the 40th week of my first pregnancy. He's a few days late, but I'm not trying to rush the guy. But I've been doing a LOT of reading on the world wide web about foods that could potentially, possibly, maybe, sorta naturally induce labor or at least create an optimal environment for the fella's arrival.

There were a lot of recipes out there that included dates & pineapple, but often with a lot of other ingredients that either hindered or had no impact on labor. I wanted to get right to the point, and this was really tasty. Add an umbrella straw & I could be on the beach! Instead, I'll hula on my yoga ball at my desk on this rainy February day.

***Remember, if the babe isn't ready to come, your diet/exercise regimen isn't going to change that. And don't try to induce labor pre-term. And check with your doctor/midwife.***

So, here's a smoothie recipe I concocted this morning in hopes of progressing labor:

Pineapple Date Smoothie
  • 8-12 pitted dates
  • 2-3 thick slices FRESH pineapple (with the core if you can get it). More if you want it.
  • 1-2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut - the finer it's shredded the better - if you don't love coconut, you can omit it. I just needed something to bridge the date/pineapple flavor. 
  • vanilla almond milk to desired consistency
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup greek yogurt - you don't need it, it just helps with a smoothie consistency vs. juice. I used plain, but any flavor you like would work.
Add to blender and pulse. The dates can get stuck in the blade, so you may want to blend those vigorously first before adding the other ingredients. I've also read that if you soak the dates in water for a while before blending, it helps avoid the chunks. I may try that next time.

Does it work? Well, I'm still typing this as I drink it, so I can't guarantee an immediate kickstart. But, here's the actual research that gives me some hope:
  • Dates. There's actually "real" research out there to support this one (published by the National Institute for Health, not some hippie in the basement lab...though I do love hippies.).  In a 2007 study, women who consumed 6 dates a day for the 4 weeks prior to their delivery were admitted with higher dilation, & a significantly higher % had membranes intact. Also, 96% of those who ate dates went into labor spontaneously and averaged 6.5 hour shorter first stage of labor than those who didn't eat dates. 6.5 hours less of labor? Sign me up.
  • Fresh pineapple contains bromelain, which acts like a prostaglandin and is thought to soften or "ripen" the cervix. Prostaglandin is the same hormone in human semen that supports the idea that sex can induce labor. I prefer the pineapple in a smoothie! The process of canning pineapple removes this hormone, so be sure to only use fresh. How much you need is a good question - I've read that you can't get enough of it, and I've read that you need at least 7 pineapples for any impact. I've been trying to eat some daily for the past few weeks. Whether it brings on labor or not, it's known to tone the uterus & cervix to make labor more pleasant. Yes please.
  • Cinnamon tea has been hailed to induce labor, but I really added it more for flavor. And I only used a dash, so I'm not expecting much from it. Maybe combined with the other things?
  • Almond milk...well, almond oil has been shown to bring on pre-term labor in mothers who rubbed it on their stomachs to prevent stretch marks prior to 37 weeks gestation. When used as a laxative, it can also bring on contractions resulting in premature labor. I doubt there's enough pure oil in the almond milk to do the damage of castor oil, so I substituted it for regular dairy milk.
  • Coconut. Well, coconut oil is like magic & good for anything. And some people claim coconut water induces labor. You could use it in the recipe instead of the flakes. I used it for the flavor. Any action is a bonus.
So the "research" is a bit shaky, as with everything else on the interweb, right? But, I feel good about the mix of ingredients not doing any harm, which is more than I can say for some of the things I've read about & heard about. The ingredients are all good for me, natural, and are hopefully going to get things going down there and help to avoid a medical induction as we get further and further past the due date.

UPDATE: Approximately 18 hours after eating this smoothie, our little boy was born!!! I'll share the labor story soon, but it happened very quickly. I can't say for sure if it was the smoothie or some of the other tricks I tried that encouraged his arrival--or maybe he was just ready. But we sure are glad he's here!


  1. I thought Brittany Howard crushed it on the Levon Helm tribute. Fingers crossed for a quick and smooth delivery!!

  2. This sounds delish, but I'm not pregnant so hoping it won't induce anything ;)

  3. How was your labor with this concoction? I’ve been wondering :)

    1. You can read all about the labor experience in this post. I have to say I think it worked!