Coffee is life. I know this because I drink lots of it, and giving it up during pregnancy was like amputating a limb. I know I like it a latte (See what I did there?), but never thought about drinking it to induce labor, and I tried everything else. Can coffee induce labor, though? Or is it just a pipe dream from the women who miss their daily cup of heaven?
There is a good reason why women are told to decrease their caffeine consumption during pregnancy. Caffeine, like any drug, carries with it inherent risks to both the mother and the child. According to The Nutrition Society, women who drink coffee during pregnancy are at a greater risk for pregnancy loss than women who do not. High levels of caffeine consumption are also linked to low birth weight and substandard birth outcomes, according to Biomed Central.
The thing with natural remedies to induce labor is that most of them aren't validated, even if they've been tested over and over by millions of women. The conclusions are anecdotal at best. The only "natural" method proven to induce uterine contractions is nipple stimulation, according to the Cochrane Library, and that takes some serious effort. It's not just a casual swish and flick — it's sustained nipple stimulation for three hours a day.
The thing about coffee is that it's not like eating spicy food, going for a long walk, or jumping your partner's bones several times a week to try to get this show on the road. It's a drug with possible implications beyond triggering uterine contractions. Not only can it cause nasty side effects like heartburn, nausea, and diarrhea, but there is evidence to suggest that it can affect the baby's heart rate later in pregnancy, making it a particularly fraught natural remedy for starting labor, according to The Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine.
Can coffee induce labor? It's possible, but it's simply not a safe method to try. Talk to your OB-GYN to discuss possible alternatives, or even that three hour nipple torture, but maybe wait to run on Dunkin. Heaven knows you'll need it soon.