Is The Old Wives Tale About Full Moons Inducing Labor True? You Wish

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By the time that pregnant women get to that last month before their due date, they will look for any hopeful sign that labor may start soon. Late in their pregnancies, women have been known to drink castor oil, go on bumpy car rides, take a long walk, eat spicy food, and the men's favorite, have sex, all in an attempt to incite labor. Given this desperation, it makes sense that you would find hope in any old wives tales about giving birth on a full moon, especially since there is a supermoon just around the corner on New Year's Day.

The most popular old wives tale is that on the night of a full moon, more women's water will break and they will go into labor. Despite this sounding totally feasible, sadly, there's no scientific evidence that full moons, or supermoons even, bring on labor. In fact, according to Babygaga, there was a research study done published 2001 by an astronomer and physicist named Daniel Caton. He examined data from over two million births and found no link between lunar cycles and birth rates. Amy McDonald, director of Duke University Midwifery Services, said that, "There are lots of belief systems and cultures around the world linking the cycle of the moon and women’s fertility." Our periods often do align with the lunar cycle, but that doesn't then translate into anything that sparks labor.

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Understandably, pregnancy and old wives tales go hand in hand. Pregnancy is something that is uniquely female, so we often bond with our girl relatives over it. Old wives tales were often invented or evolved out of the need to understand something that was hard to understand. Your grandma or your great aunt might not understand your use of apps to order dinner for the family, or the fact that you don't get a print newspaper because you can catch up on all the current event events online. They can, however, relate to the growing new life inside of you and might still even remember the urgency you feel as you approach the finish line and the desperation to get that baby out. And back when they were with child, all their tricks were spread through word of mouth, and they were probably willing to believe and try anything to induce labor.


Which brings us back to the supermoon or any full moon and the reputation it has for inciting the birth rate to rise. Supermoons are full moons when the moon is in the spot of its orbit closest to earth. This spot is called the perigree. To be considered a supermoon, the center of the moon needs to be closer than 223,694 miles to earth, putting it above the 90th percentile in terms of distance from the earth. It's the "A" student of moons. The next supermoon will be on New Year's Day, January 1, 2018. They may be rare, but they do happen and if moms want to believe that a full moon and especially a supermoon can bring on labor, then they're probably looking to these dates with hope.

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Anecdotally, labor and delivery nurses will tell you that when there's a full moon, they prepare for a busy night, though there is no scientific rhyme or reason why. Some people argue that since the moon causes the tides, the gravitational pull can influence labor. According to Live Science, "there's no measurable difference in the moon's gravitational effect to one side of your body vs. the other," so don't expect the supermoon to pull that baby towards it like the tide.

If you are rooting for labor to start and hoping that the next supermoon will hasten that, it certainly could happen. But there's also a chance you will still be pregnant the next day. In which case, it's time to break out the spicy foods and call your partner. And even if those also don't bring labor, at least you had a good meal and some sex.

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

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