After nine long months of pregnancy, you just want that baby out. As someone who’s never given birth, I can only speculate, but I imagine carrying life in your mid-section for 40 weeks is not the most comfortable state of being. And maybe, just maybe, food can help move things along just a little bit. From tea to candy, these are some of the most famous eats known to induce labor. And some of them even have the science to back it up too!

Black Licorice

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This polarizing candy has one miraculous benefit: It’s scientifically proven to speed up labor. A study published in the Journal of Epidemiology focused one key licorice ingredient known as glycyrrhizin, which is associated with shorter gestation periods. The 2002 study surveyed over a 1,000 Finnish women on their licorice consumption and found this correlation to be true. There are few theories as to why this is. One has to do with the way glycyrrhizin interacts with cortisol levels, and the other speculates that it speeds up production of the hormone prostaglandin. Whatever the case may be, it’s good to know that the world’s grossest Halloween candy can at least serve a greater purpose.

Dates

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Turns out dates may move up your due date! A 2017 study in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that women who ate six dates a day for the four-week period leading up to their due date were more dilated when they arrived at the hospital. Plus they labored seven hours less than a control group who didn’t eat the fruit. Researchers are still exploring this phenomena but theorize that dates have an oxytocin-like effect on the body and possibly stimulate contractions. Hey, whatever does the job!

Raspberry Leaf Tea

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The medicinal properties of raspberry tea have been touted forever. Seriously, its usage as a healing beverage can be traced back to a book called “The Herbal” from 1597! It’s been viewed as a cure-all for everything from gastrointestinal issues to morning sickness. So it makes sense that people long believed that it would also help ease the birthing process. It wasn’t until 2001 that science decided to weigh in on the issue once and for all. And it turns out it’s not nearly as effective as the folklore would have you believe. According to a 2001 study published in the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, raspberry leaf tea did not shorten the first part of labor at all. The second stage of labor was only shortened by 9.59 minutes.

Pineapple

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Many people swear by pineapple as a labor time-saver. While it’s never been scientifically proven, here’s what we do know. Pineapple contains the enzyme bromelaine which does soften the wall around the cervix. However, whether that alone can induce labor is unknown. At the very least, consider having a slice with breakfast in your third trimester simply because pineapple tastes great and no further evidence is needed to prove that.

Spicy Food

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Spicy food has long been speculated to stimulate contractions. Though there’s no research to back up these claims, spice does help the body release the hormone prostaglandin, which does help move things along. So if you can stand the heat, why not chow down on some chili?

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Jessica is an Associate Editor at Chowhound. Follow her on Twitter @volume_knob for updates on snacks and cats.
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