It's tough enough to navigate during the requisite nine months, so one minute past a woman's due date can turn even the happiest of mothers-to-be into the angry, get-this-baby-out-of-me-now sort. When such a level of desperation sets in, many women turn to so-called "labor-inducing" foods. Spicy selections tend to top the list of popular options. In fact, a research found that 10.9 percent of women surveyed turned to piquante cuisine in an effort to induce labor [source: Chaudhry et al]. Although this approach typically can't hurt, there's little evidence other than hearsay to back it up. In fact, experts believe that labor is probably initiated when the fetus itself starts to produce specific hormones, over which mama has no control [source: Caldwell].
Still, once a particular food gains a reputation for bringing on birth, it tends to catch on like wildfire. One legendary dish is eggplant parmesan produced by Scalini's Italian Restaurant in Smyrna, Georgia. Women swear by the dish's ability to kick off labor, even though scientific evidence is lacking to prove that eggplant smothered in cheese and sauce has any influence over the induction process. "I was late with my second pregnancy with no signs of labor," recalls my friend Cristy Daly. "I decided to try the dish and successfully went into labor a few hours later with contractions that were one minute apart. We now have a Scalini's baby."