As anyone who has ever gone over their due date will likely appreciate, heavily pregnant women will do near on anything to kick-start labour.
Just ask Hilary Duff.
The 31-year-old actress is currently expecting her second baby and has turned to a special ‘maternity salad’ to try and induce her delivery.
The salad, made by Caioti Pizza Café in Los Angeles, features a simple mix of romaine, gorgonzola, walnuts, watercress and the restaurant’s secret herb-balsamic dressing, has become famous for its mysterious labour-inducing properties.
Hilary is just one of the hundreds of mums-to-be who visit the café and order the salad in the hope of bringing on labour.
“This salad is supposed to make you go into labor…@caioti_pizza don’t let me down,” she posted to her Instagram stories earlier this week.
The salad is so well-known that even gynaecologists in the local area have started recommending the restaurant to their pregnant patients to give them some hope.
“Doctors send their patients here — so do midwives and doulas,” Carrie LaDou, owner of Caioti Pizza told Today. “Everybody knows us and the salad has become an end-of-pregnancy tradition for most locals.”
But can a salad really cause the onset of labour?
“Women have for a long time looked towards ways of initiating labour. This might be because their pregnancy is prolonged beyond 40 weeks and they would like to have a natural onset of labour rather than be induced,” Mr Ian Currie, consultant gynaecologist at BMI The Chiltern Hospital told Yahoo UK.
“Various remedies have been used over the years but none have really undergone any serious scientific scrutiny.”
Mr Currie goes on to explain that though there are usually ‘loose’ hypotheses to justify the eating of certain foods or the doing of certain things to bring on labour, actually science still doesn’t fully understand how the human body initiates labour.
“Mechanism for onset of labour is complex and it is a really important area of research particularly when labour starts too early,” he continues.
“Premature labour can result in many problems for both mum and baby. Fortunately with modern obstetric and neonatal care those risk are reducing gradually.”
So what could be behind the reported success of the maternity salad in terms of bringing on labour?
“There is a suggestion that the substances in balsamic vinegar may have an impact,” Currie continues.
“If this was so shouldn’t we see higher rates of natural onset of labour in countries with high consumption of these products eg Italy. In fact Italy actually has the highest Caesarean section rate in Europe, although that might be for other reasons.”
Currie believes bring-on-baby trends should undergo more scrutiny before experts can say they work and therefore recommend them.
“Whether the medical professional support these or not will however not stop women who are usually really fed up, tired and achy in looking at any possibility to start labour.”
But even though it is unlikely that the ‘maternity salad’ is the miraculous labour starter heavily pregnant women hope it to be, there’s certainly no harm in trying, particularly as there are plenty of health benefits associated with eating salad.