When it comes to childbirth we all want to have an easy, short, and healthy labor and delivery.
Luckily, there are a number of things we can do to help us achieve that, such as:
- Taking an out-of-hospital childbirth education class
- Working with a birth doula
- Knowing the truth about epidurals
- Taking the best prenatal vitamin
- Looking into a birth center
- Doing pregnancy exercises to get baby in optimal position
And now you can add one more thing to your list: Eating dates.
Eat dates during pregnancy for the best labor and birth
Have you ever thought to snack your way to an easier labor?
According to this study, women who ate 6 dates a day for the four weeks leading up to their due date were significantly more dilated and more likely to:
- Have intact membranes upon admission to the hospital
- Go into labor spontaneouslyn
- And have a shorter first phase of labor
A 2014 study in the Journal of Midwifery & Reproductive Health looked at date consumption in late pregnancy as it related to cervical ripening, and it found that date eaters had:
- Higher Bishop scores at admission to birthplace
- Greater cervical dilation compared
- More successful rates of labor induction
Finally, a study in March 2017 supported all the initial findings. The authors of this study concluded that:
Dates fruit consumption during late pregnancy has been shown to positively affect the outcome of labour and delivery without adverse effect on the mother and child.”
Pretty awesome for just eating some dates, huh?
So why does eating dates during pregnancy help mamas-to-be?
Researchers have found that date fruit has some good effects on the body, leading to increased sensitivity of the uterus. It also helps stimulate uterine contractions, and reduces postpartum hemorrhage the way it does. They also found that it contains many nutritional benefits for pregnant mamas.
“Date fruit contains saturated and unsaturated fatty acids such as oleic, linoleic, and linolenic acids, which are involved in saving and supplying energy and construction of prostaglandins. In addition, serotonin, tannin, and calcium in date fruit contribute to the contraction of smooth muscles of the uterus. Date fruit also has a laxative effect, which stimulates uterine contractions.”
Dates also contain:
- Natural sugars (fructose) that easily break down in the body and won’t spike blood sugar levels but will offer high energy, which makes dates during pregnancy or labor an excellent choice.
- Fiber – Helps you stay full, relieves constipation, and lowers your risk for gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
- Potassium – One of the best electrolytes. It helps maintain water/salt balance which helps regulate blood pressure.
- Magnesium – Support muscular health and helps to alleviate muscle spasms and cramps in pregnancy.
- Folate – Getting enough folate will ensure that your baby’s spinal cord matures properly, avoiding neural tube defects.
- Vitamin K – maintains proper blood clotting and healthy bones.
When should I start eating dates during pregnancy?
In the study referenced above, pregnant women began eating dates four weeks before their estimated due date. In other words, at 36 weeks pregnant they began eating six date fruits per day.
Of course, you can begin eating dates earlier in your pregnancy if you like. Keep in mind that dates are high in sugar, so if you have blood sugar issues or if you’re worried about group b strep, go easy on them early in pregnancy. But, by all means, start eating 6 dates a day from 36 weeks on!