Fact or fiction: Can a drop in barometric pressure induce labor?

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RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Mo. - There are many myths when it comes to pregnancy and what can bring on labor. One big myth is that a drop in barometric pressure as a strong storm system approaches can cause labor to begin.

The reason behind this theory?

“A drop in pressure or any significant change in pressure, whether it’s up or down, would change some pressure and have your bag of water break, but again there’s a lot of physiological forces at work and it’s a hard thing to study as well,” said Dr. Elena Kraus, OB-GYN at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital.

Dr. Kraus says that there are many factors that go into difficult studies such as these, such as people’s differences in location and altitude, and whether or not that actually has effects inside the body.

But, can an approaching storm truly stimulate labor?

“People in labor and delivery, physicians, I, myself am guilty of wondering whether or not this is the case because sometimes it feels like a lot of people are going into labor and a lot of bags of waters are breaking when the barometric pressure drops. So, this is enough of an observation that there has been research studies on it and they have overall been inconclusive that it actually makes a difference,” Dr. Kraus said.

Pre-term women do not need to worry when they hear a big change in the weather is coming. Dr. Kraus says there have been studies done on both pre-term and term women and neither were conclusive, but it especially showed to have no impact on women who were not ready to give birth.

While barometric pressure or even another myth, full moons, won’t necessarily induce labor, there are some things, like staying active and walking, that can potentially help.

“But like so many things and like the weather, there’s not a lot in our control as far as inducing or stimulating labor until it actually is from a medical standpoint at a hospital,” Dr. Kraus said.

One thing that has been established through research is that more women go into labor and more babies are born during the nighttime hours. This can be explained due to biochemical changes that happen at night versus during the day.

To learn more about maternity care, click here.


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