Nope I don’t mean that X on the calendar signifying the day your baby probably WON’T be born... I mean the sticky dried fruit that we all seem to buy at Christmas and no one ever eats. Yup dates have some real researched benefits for pregnancy and labour!
Several studies have found that eating dates throughout pregnancy can reduce the chance of needing to be induced. Women who ate 80g of dates a day from 36 weeks were found to have a more ripened cervix, were more dilated when they arrived at hospital, more likely to have a vaginal birth and less likely to require augmentation with drugs. They also found that eating dates immediately after birth reduced the amount of blood loss. Women who ate dates were:
74% more dilated than non-date eaters at admission to birthplace
38% more likely to have intact membranes
21% more likely to spontaneously go into labor
28% less likely to use prostin/oxytocin to induce labor
77% shorter first stage of labour
50% higher Bishop score at admission to birthplace
43% lower rates of c-section
51% lower rates of vacuum/forceps
So how do dates achieve this miraculous effect on labour? According to mamanatural.com, dates have an oxytocin effect, which can stimulate contractions as well as reduce post-partum blood loss.
“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.
Date fruit contains saturated and unsaturated fatty acids such as oleic, linoleic, and linolenic acids. Fatty acids in addition to providing and reserving energy, contribute to prostaglandin provision (15); therefore, date fruit can be helpful in saving energy and strengthening uterus muscles. It also contains hormones which help the uterus stretch and be prepared for child delivery (18).
Journal of midwifery and maternal health
It’a important to consider sugar intake particularly if you have gestational diabetes, but if you have a low risk pregnancy, consuming dates could be a great power food to help reduce the length of your labour, if you like the taste!