We go out for curries and love spicy food; I’ve been told I might go into labour early – is this true?
Many people believe that eating a curry will encourage the start of labour but this is completely untrue. Although the reasoning behind it is good, the theory does not work. One of the less talked about signs of labour is a loose bowel motion or even diarrhoea. This occurs because the cervix (neck of the womb) and the part of the bowel have a common nerve supply. As the cervix starts to become softer and more ready for labour, so the bowel is stimulated. This may cause faster movement of food and more frequent, looser bowel motions. Labour may follow in the next few hours or it may not happen for a day or so.
Some people think that if you eat an extra hot curry, or a few spoonfuls of castor oil, for example, to bring on a bout of diarrhoea, this will stimulate the cervix and labour will start. Unfortunately, the process doesn't seem to work reliably in reverse. A short bout of diarrhoea may bring on labour but unless it was about to start over the next couple of days, it is unlikely. Labour following diarrhoea is probably coincidental and the side effects of abdominal cramps, diarrhoea and soreness is very disagreeable.
However, if you regularly eat curries and spicy food, and are not suffering from the uncomfortable side effect of heartburn or indigestion, and it is what you want, treat yourself.
Alexander J, Levy V, Roch S (1990) Intra-partum Care: a research-based approach. Macmillan, Basingstoke.
77 - Enkin M Keirse MJNC Neilson J Crowther C Duley L Hodnett E Hofmeyr J (2000) A Guide to Effective Care in Pregnancy and Childbirth - 3rd Edn. Oxford University Press, New York p97