If someone were to tell me that there is something that 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 that there is something that you can do that really 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 crazy, but I’m about to share with you why dates have been proven to be good for you and your baby’s big B-day.
What Studies Show
Recently, I was told about a study that claims that eating dates are a great way to naturally help women have shorter and easier labors and births and that they help reduce the risk of induction. At first, I thought it was ridiculous. How could eating fruit help that much? But then I started looking into it further.
In this study, it compared two groups of women: those who consumed six dates per day in the last four weeks of pregnancy, and those who did not. What the study discovered was that the women who consumed the dates had significantly shorter labor compared to the women who did not eat dates. The women who ate dates dilated an average of 3.5 cm upon admission to the hospital, compared to 2 cm from those who didn’t. Not only that, but those who consumed dates also had an average of 8.5 hours of labor (from 0-10 cm) while those who didn’t had an average 15.1 hours of labor. Pretty amazing! Every woman wants to have a faster and more favorable birth. I was getting excited about the more research that I did. I also found that the women who ate the dates were also more likely to:
- Go into labor spontaneously
- 96% of the women who consumed dates went into spontaneous labor and did not have to be induced (compared to 79% of the women who didn’t).
- Have intact membranes (their water did not break) upon admission to the hospital
- A much smaller percentage of women who consumed dates had their membranes rupture 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, and if just eating a couple of dates a day can help have these results, I’m all for it!
And not only have dates been proven to be beneficial during labor, but also immediately postpartum too. It has been shown that there was 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, which stimulates uterine contractions to help with labor and reduce postpartum hemorrhage the way oxytocin does. Incredible!
It is pretty fascinating when you look at all of these studies. Just FYI, the women in these studies ate 50-70g of dates per day, or right after birth. This is approximately 3-7 dates, depending on the size.
What Are In Dates?
The below information originally found here.
- Fiber – we all know that fiber helps relieve constipation, helps you stay full, but did you know that it also helps lower your risk for gestational diabetes and preeclampsia? Dates contain a combination of soluble and insoluble fiber and thus help maintain your digestive system. Cool!
- Magnesium – this supports your muscular health and helps to alleviate muscle spasms and cramps during pregnancy.
- 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.
- Natural sugars (fructose) — it offers high energy, but thankfully it easily breaks down in the body and won’t spike blood sugar levels. This is why eating dates during your pregnancy and/or your labor is an excellent choice.
- Folate – this is super important since getting enough folate will ensure that your baby’s spinal cord matures properly, avoiding neural tube defects.
- Vitamin K – helps maintain proper blood clotting and keeps your bones healthy.
What Are Some Different Ways to Eat Dates?
Dates are pretty sweet, so some people have a difficult time incorporating them into their diet. Here are some ideas to help get you started.
- Stuffed Dates — remove the pit and add a nut – pecan, almond, walnut, or even peanut butter!
- Date Shake — frappe fat-free vanilla, banana, or plain yogurt and dates in a blender for a delicious drink.
- Breakfast — add a bold texture and taste to your cold cereal or hot oatmeal. Just mix in sliced dates and enjoy!
- Sweet Salad — mix dates in with a salad of your choice
- Wrap it Up — wrap dates, tuna or chicken salad, and other vegetables into a whole wheat tortilla or pita.
- Make Your Trail Mix — add dates with your favorite nuts and chocolate to make a tasty trail mix.
- Drizzle It — blend dates with a small amount of milk until smooth, then drizzle over whole wheat waffles, oatmeal, or french toast.
- Date Parfait — brighten up your day with a parfait filled with dates and all of your favorite fruits.
- Cookie Time — chop up some dates and bake them in cookies/muffins where you would use raisins or figs and add some nuts for protein. It adds a nice chewy and fruity texture!
- Dessert Dates — dice and serve dates over some vanilla frozen yogurt. Yum!
I also like these super yummy LARA bards that are made from dates (also paleo-friendly) that I think you will enjoy!
What’s Been Said
So with all of this information, I decided that I wanted to look around to see what other women have been saying about eating dates during their pregnancy. What I found was awesome! Here are a few stories that I found on the web:
- 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 had been eating 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 huge part in that. – Susan K.
Did you eat dates during your pregnancy? Do you think it made your labor faster and easier?