Can a watercress salad really make your water break?
That's the urban myth of the cozy, quaint Caioti Café in Studio City, Calif., where overdue gals gather to gulp down "The Salad." (Yes, it's called The "THE" Salad on the menu.)
The inconspicuous little pizza joint has gained a following of women -- mainly by word of mouth -- who swear the salad kicks off contractions. There have been reports that up to 50 women pop in daily, hoping for relief!
As for the so-called magic baby-moving ingredient? The dressing -- made simply of pure olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sun-dried tomatoes, spices, and herbs. Oh, and "love," as the café's website puts it, plus what owner Ed LaDou has called a "secret ingredient." Combine that with the pile of romaine, watercress, walnuts, and gorgonzola, and you just might have a baby on the way -- and fast.
Some claim they went into labor mere hours after savoring the salad. And the waiters have piles of journals with handwritten testimonials from salad-lovers and subsequent baby-makers.
"The Maternity Salad worked for us," reads an online testimonial from the Ludwig Family. "My husband brought one home for me Thurs, Oct 16. I had it for dinner, went into labor at 9 PM, our precious baby girl came at 5:46 PM, Friday!! Thanks!"
Can this be possible? Hold your fork - "My search does not confirm any data on this," says gynecologist Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz. In fact, despite claims that everything from acupuncture to nipple stimulation and herbs (raspberry leaves, primrose oil, black and blue cohosh) can induce labor, Dr. Gilberg-Lenz says there is "no conclusive data" that this is true.
So, could this miracle salad's effectiveness be all in the mind? "Of course!" says Dr. Gilberg-Lenz. "The mind-body connection is incredibly strong." She adds, "A woman expecting to go into labor will eventually go into labor" - and it's got to happen anyway. Most women will see their babies by 42 weeks.
Essentially, it's difficult to know exactly what can trigger labor because circumstances vary, making clinical research on claims like these challenging. "How would you ever know if it was the salad, the timing, the sex she had after the salad, etc. that actually caused the labor?" Dr. Gilberg-Lenz asks.
Wait, sex?! That's right -- Dr. Gilberg-Lenz says, "Sex with a man who ejaculates in the desperate-to-labor woman, in my opinion, is the best bet." And "many of the herbs above, when used under the supervision of a trained professional, are the best bets."
So, overdue ladies -- there you have it. If you're desperate to pop, one very fun way to get your baby movin' is to get busy -- and if you believe in the magic of the Caioti Café's miracle salad, "Enjoy it for its yummy goodness and outstanding traditional content," says Dr. Gilberg-Lenz, "but labor is not the guaranteed second course."