Does Pineapple Induce Labor?

Suggestions on ways to help kickstart labor have been available for a long time, and some have more scientific support than others. One common folk remedy is for pregnant women to eat pineapple. It’s thought to help kick contractions into gear and encourage the cervix to loosen. But there doesn't seem to be a lot of evidence to back it up. 

Occasional anecdotal evidence has linked eating large amounts of pineapple to getting labor started. Online message boards largely attribute this to the presence of the enzyme bromelain. But there’s not a lot of scientific support for it. 

Some studies have shown bromelain to cause uterine contractions in animals but only when applied directly to the uterus. Even in the animal studies, the bromelain simply caused contractions, but not labor. There was no sign that the bromelain applied in any way actually sped up the labor process. There have been no studies with pregnant people. 

If you’re 39, 40, or even 41 weeks pregnant, it may be tempting to try even unproven methods of inducing labor. But before you do, check with your doctor. 

Health Benefits of Pineapple

Despite its inability to actually get labor started, pineapple is still an excellent source of nutrients that can help keep you and your baby healthy during your pregnancy. It’s rich in antioxidants like vitamin C, which can help reduce inflammation during pregnancy. This can help both you and your baby stay healthy throughout the process. 

Pineapple is also a good source of folate. Health professionals recommend that pregnant people get at least 600 micrograms of folate daily to support their baby’s health. One cup of raw pineapple has nearly 30 micrograms of folate, making it a great way to get more of this critical nutrient. 

Is Pineapple Safe During Pregnancy?

When a food is rumored to trigger contractions or even labor, you might be concerned it could bring on preterm labor or be one of the foods pregnant people should avoid.

Pineapple is safe to eat while pregnant.

But you may want to limit how much of it you eat. The most common species of pineapple in the US, the Smooth Cayenne, has a high acid content. Heartburn and acid reflux are common when pregnant, and acidic foods can make these problems worse. 

Also, too much bromelain may occasionally lead to diarrhea or cramping, which may be mistaken for the beginning of labor. 

Pineapple can also trigger an allergic reaction in some people. If you have a latex allergy, you may not want to eat any pineapple. People who are allergic to latex are often allergic to pineapple, too. That can help you avoid any possible allergic reactions when you’re pregnant. 

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on February 22, 2021

Sources

SOURCES:

Allergy: “"Latex-fruit syndrome": frequency of cross-reacting IgE antibodies.”

European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care: “Ananas comosus: is the unripe fruit juice an abortifacient in pregnant Wistar rats?”

FoodData Central: “Pineapple, raw.”

International Journal of Bio-Science and Bio-Technology: “In Vitro and In vivo Evaluation of Ananas comosus Fruit (Pineapple) on Abortion/Miscarriage in Wistar Rats.”

Journal of Ethnopharmacology: “Investigation of uterotonic properties of Ananas comosus extracts.”

National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: “Folate.”

Nationwide Children’s Hospital: “How to Avoid Heartburn During Pregnancy.”

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Bromelain.”

New World Encyclopedia: “Pineapple.”

Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity: “The Importance of Antioxidant Micronutrients in Pregnancy.”

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