If you're reading this, you've probably heard that stimulating your digestion (AKA your bowels), like by drinking castor oil, can induce labor. But as I hope you've heard, castor oil is a big no and has some not-so-pleasant effects. (With still no baby in sight.) But what about other drinks that claim to aid with digestion? Can you induce labor by taking Metamucil? Experts say it's not exactly recommended.
Kristen Burris, L.Ac, a women’s health acupuncturist and infertility specialist, agrees about the bowel stimulation and triggering labor link. “One common way women like to take the timing of their baby’s birth into their own hands is by trying to trigger labor induction by increasing their bowel movements,” she tells Romper in an email interview. But Burris notes there aren’t really any drinks you can imbibe that can induce labor safely — Metamucil included.
“There are many ways to increase bowel motility, thereby potentially increasing contraction rates to start labor, including increasing fruits and vegetables, drinking prune juice, and eating spicy foods. However, I caution patients against using Metamucil as a ‘natural’ laxative. My cautionary advice is not so much for the psyllium husk that absorbs liquid in the intestines, creating a bulkier but easier stool to pass, but rather the other unnatural ingredients in its various formulas, including Red 40, aspartame, and phenylalanine,” she says. “Food coloring wreaks havoc on small children's nervous systems and should not be ingested during pregnancy. The artificial sweeteners contained in Metamucil are not safe for women, nor developing children, as they have several toxic chemical breakdowns that occur after ingestion."
And even if you are more than ready to have your body back and to evict that bun in your oven, you may want to consider a few things first, according to Burris. “We all know how anxious and ready expectant mothers are to get their baby out when they are due or overdue for their baby's birth. Inductions, natural or not, need to be monitored by an expert and reviewed with their midwife or OB-GYN. There are reasons not to induce labor that you may not be aware of, including high blood pressure, preeclampsia, malpositioned baby, or infection,” she warns.
According to birth and postpartum doula and family coach, Monique Cowan, it’s really important you don’t try to self-induce before 40 weeks gestation, because unless you know exactly when you conceived, you could be inducing early than 40 weeks — since your pregnancy is based on your last menstrual period (LMP) and not necessarily when you ovulated. “Any earlier than 40 weeks and your baby may not be done with brain and lung development,” she tells Romper in an email.
If you are 40 weeks along and your midwife or OB-GYN says it’s OK, Burris suggests a healthier and safer alternative to Metamucil. “If you are convinced you want to induce more frequent bowel movements in hopes of triggering your uterine contractions, I would suggest Heather's Fiber Tummy Organic Acacia Senegal instead,” she says. “It is organic, a prebiotic, and it has a positive effect on increasing good gut flora. There’s no gluten, FODMAPS, additives, fillers, flavors, fructans galactans, polyols, fructose, lactose, FOS or inulin, and no GMOs or anything synthetic. Start at the minimum dose at a fourth of a teaspoon daily, starting at week 39 if your midwife or OB-GYN gives you the green light to naturally start labor,” Burris says.
So while you technically can try drinking Metamucil to induce labor (since it stimulates your bowels), maybe hold off on chugging it just yet. If you're 40 weeks and you've had the OK from your healthcare provider(s), it might be best to stick to more natural ways of inducing labor, or even pick a healthier drink alternative.
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