Is there any science behind ‘the Labor Inducer’ burger?

Pregnant women who are ready to go into labor are eating this Minneapolis restaurant's spicy burger, called "the Labor Inducer." (Photo: Getty Images)
Pregnant women who are ready to go into labor are eating this Minneapolis restaurant's spicy burger, called "the Labor Inducer." (Photo: Getty Images)

A spicy burger called “the Labor Inducer,” which is being served at a Minnesota restaurant, is catching the attention of pregnant women, who are nearing their due dates and feeling more than ready to give birth.

It all started when Cindy Berset and her two daughters, co-owners of the Suburban restaurant in Excelsior, Minn., were trying out different recipes in order to choose one for the Twin Cities Burger Battle, a local burger competition. Berset’s daughter, Kelsey Quarberg, who was late into her pregnancy at the time, taste-tested a sweet-and-spicy burger and found herself going into labor a few hours later.

“She ate the entire thing, and at midnight went into labor,” Berset told CBS Minnesota. (The burger — Angus beef topped with American cheese, peach caramelized onions, honey cured bacon, Cajun remoulade sauce and Bavarian spicy mustard, and served on a pretzel bun — won third place in the People’s Choice competition.)

When pregnant customer Katy Engler saw “the Labor Inducer” burger being featured as the restaurant’s “Burger of the Month” back in July, she decided to try it while dining with her husband. “It was my due date, and I was very done being pregnant,” Engler told the news outlet.

A few hours later, Engler went into labor and gave birth to a baby girl.

With two births under its belt, the restaurant put a “baby counter” on the wall, according to CBS Minnesota.

But does eating spicy food actually bring on labor? Sadly, no.

“Spicy foods do not trigger labor, though this is often quoted as a recommendation for getting labor started,” Jonathan Schaffir, an ob-gyn at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and author of What to Believe When You’re Expecting: A New Look at Old Wives’ Tales in Pregnancy, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Several restaurants — I’ve seen ads with similar claims in New York and Georgia — promote dishes that they say will trigger labor for expectant moms who are tired of waiting. But the success stories that they circulate are likely the result of women who would have gone into labor anyway at that late date in pregnancy, whether they consumed the pizza, eggplant parmigiana, burger, etc., or not.”

Leah Millheiser, MD, director of the female sexual medicine program at Stanford University Medical Center, agrees. “I have patients who ate spicy tacos and kimchi for two weeks straight and nothing ever came of it,” Millheiser tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “We’ve heard that spicy foods cause labor, but there’s zero data to back that up.”

Millheiser adds: “There has always been a rumor, similar to when you hear women say, ‘I went into labor on a full moon. Labor and delivery [at hospitals] is always super busy on full moons,’ but there’s never been any research on this. Or ‘having an orgasm will make you go into labor.’ No data has ever been done to prove this is true, but some people swear by it.”

So how did spicy foods get linked to inducing labor in the first place? “The recommendation probably comes from a common perception that stimulating the gut will help to stimulate the uterus, since both organs act to push things out down below,” explains Schaffir. “In general, the safest and best course for a medically uncomplicated pregnancy is to wait for labor to start on its own.”

Schaffir adds: “But that burger does sound good, and maybe enjoying such an indulgence will help pass the time until it does.”

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