The Benefits of Eating Dates During Pregnancy - Baby Chick
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The Benefits of Eating Dates During Pregnancy

Find out what nutrients are in dates, why eating dates during pregnancy can be beneficial, and how to incorporate this fruit into your diet.

Updated May 21, 2024

by Nina Spears

The Baby Chick®: Pregnancy, Birth & Postpartum Expert

If someone told me there was something I could do to make my time in labor and birth shorter and easier, without a doubt, I would do it! But what if I told you there is something that can help you have an easier, shorter, and healthier labor and delivery? Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, it is true! And all you have to do is eat dates during your pregnancy. I know it sounds unbelievable, but I’m going to share with you why dates have been proven to be good for you and your baby’s big B-day.

What Are in Dates?

First off, let’s talk about why this fruit is good for you. Here are the nutrients found in dates and why they’re important for pregnant women:1,4,5

  • Fiber: We all know that fiber helps relieve constipation and helps you stay full. But did you know it also lowers your risk for gestational diabetes and preeclampsia?1,6,8,9 Dates contain a combination of soluble and insoluble fiber to help maintain your digestive system.7
  • Magnesium: Magnesium supports your muscular health and may help alleviate muscle spasms and cramps during pregnancy.10
  • Potassium: This is one of the best electrolytes, and it helps you maintain water/salt balance, which also helps regulate blood pressure and regulate your nervous system.11
  • Fructose (natural sugar): This offers high energy but quickly breaks down in the body and won’t spike blood sugar levels.12 This is why eating dates during pregnancy and/or labor is an excellent choice.
  • Folate: Getting enough folate will ensure that your baby’s spinal cord matures properly, avoiding neural tube defects.13,14
  • Vitamin K: This vitamin helps maintain proper blood clotting and keeps your bones healthy.15

What Studies Show About Eating Dates in Pregnancy

I recently learned about a study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology claiming that eating dates is a great way to help women have shorter and easier labors and births naturally. The study also showed that eating dates could help reduce the risk of induction.2

At first, I thought it was ridiculous. How could eating fruit help that much? But then I started looking into it further and discovered the following benefits of eating dates:

Pregnancy Benefits

This study compared two groups of women: those who consumed six dates per day in the last four weeks of pregnancy and those who didn’t. Researchers discovered that the women who consumed the dates had significantly shorter labor than the women who didn’t eat dates. The women who ate dates dilated an average of 3.5 centimeters upon admission to the hospital, compared to 2 centimeters from those who didn’t. Those who consumed dates also had an average of 8.5 hours of labor (from 0-10 centimeters), while those who didn’t averaged 15.1 hours of labor.2 Pretty amazing!

In addition, this study found that the women who ate the dates were also more likely to:2

  • Go into labor spontaneously: 96% of the women who consumed dates went into spontaneous labor and didn’t have to be induced (compared to 79% of the women who didn’t).
  • Have intact membranes (their water didn’t break) upon admission to the hospital: A much smaller percentage of women who consumed dates had their membranes ruptured in early labor compared to those who didn’t (17% vs. 40%).
  • Avoid Pitocin: Only 28% of the women who ate dates needed Pitocin during their labor, compared to the 47% of women who didn’t eat dates and needed Pitocin.

These are some pretty significant differences! Every woman wants to have a faster and more favorable birth. And if eating a couple of dates a day can help bring about these results, I’m all for it.

Postpartum Benefits

Dates have been proven to be beneficial not only during labor but also immediately postpartum. A study published in the Journal of Midwifery & Public Health found a significant reduction in the amount of postpartum bleeding experienced by women who consumed dates compared to women who received synthetic oxytocin (Pitocin). In this study, women either received dates administered orally or an intramuscular injection of Pitocin. Because of these findings, we now know that dates have an oxytocin-like effect on our body, stimulating uterine contractions to help with labor and reducing postpartum hemorrhage the way oxytocin does.3 Incredible!

Note: The women in these studies ate 50-70 grams of dates per day or right after birth. This is approximately three to seven dates, depending on the size.

What Pregnant Women Have Said About Eating Dates

I decided to look around to see what others have said about eating this fruit during pregnancy. What I found was incredible! Here are a few anecdotes from women on the effects of consuming dates in pregnancy:

“My labor was very quick (about 6-7 hrs from start to fin), and I was 8 cm when I got to the hospital! This was my first baby, so I expected it to be much longer & to be in extreme pain long before I got to 8 cm! I love dates, so I ate them regularly throughout my pregnancy.” — Sahara D.

“I started to eat 6-7 dates daily as soon as my 9th month began. I had spontaneous labor and a good cervix opening on admission to the hospital. My labor lasted for 8 hours from start to finish. I recommend eating dates to every expecting woman.” — Vadika

“I religiously ate the recommended amount of dates each day from 36 weeks on. When I got to the hospital in labor and saw my doctor, he made a point to comment on how soft my cervix was. I had fast labor (5 hours) and great delivery! I believe that the dates played a significant part in that.” — Susan K.

What Are Some Different Ways To Eat Dates?

If you’re as impressed by dates as I am, you’ll want to start adding them to your diet! Dates are pretty sweet, so some people have difficulty incorporating them into their meals. To help you get started, here are some ideas for serving and eating them:

  • Make stuffed dates: Remove the pit and add a nut — pecan, almond, walnut, or even peanut butter!
  • Blend a date shake: Frappe fat-free vanilla, banana, or plain yogurt and dates in a blender for a delicious drink.
  • Serve them with breakfast: Add a bold texture and taste to your cold cereal or hot oatmeal. Just mix in sliced dates and enjoy!
  • Create a sweet salad: Mix dates in with a salad of your choice.
  • Wrap them up: Wrap dates, tuna or chicken salad, and other vegetables into a whole wheat tortilla or pita.
  • Make your own trail mix: Combine dates with your favorite nuts and chocolate to make a tasty trail mix.
  • Drizzle them: Blend dates with a small amount of milk until smooth. Drizzle over whole wheat waffles, oatmeal, or French toast.
  • Make a date parfait: Brighten your day with a parfait filled with dates and all your favorite fruits.
  • Add them to baked goods: Chop up some dates and bake them in cookies/muffins where you’d normally use raisins or figs, then add nuts for protein. The dates will add a nice chewy and fruity texture!
  • Use them as a yogurt topping: Dice and serve dates over some vanilla frozen yogurt. Yum!

Eating Dates During Pregnancy

If you were as on the fence as I was about dates, I hope the information in this article changed your mind! Eating dates during pregnancy is a natural way to help you have an easier, shorter, and healthier labor and delivery, not to mention you can reap certain benefits postpartum. Did you eat dates during your pregnancy? Do you think it made your labor faster and easier? Let us know!

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Nina Spears The Baby Chick®: Pregnancy, Birth & Postpartum Expert
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Nina is The Baby Chick® & Editor-in-Chief of Baby Chick®. She received her baby planning certification in early 2011 and began attending births that same year. Since then, Nina has… Read more

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