Eating Dates for Labour
Just as they say eating spicy food can help start labour, the same has been said about dates! We’re going to talk about this a bit and find out if dates actually do help to get labour going.
It’s always helpful when researching something to see if there have been actual scientific studies done on the topic. Lucky for us, there have been!
What do the studies say?
This 2011 study from the university of Jordan had 69 women consume 6 dates a day, 4 weeks prior to their estimated due date, compared to 45 women who consumed none.
”The women who consumed date fruit had significantly higher mean cervical dilatation upon admission compared with the non-date fruit consumers (3.52 cm vs 2.02 cm), and a significantly higher proportion of intact membranes (83% vs 60%). Spontaneous labour occurred in 96% of those who consumed dates, compared with 79% women in the non-date fruit consumers. Use of prostin/oxytocin was significantly lower in women who consumed dates (28%), compared with the non-date fruit consumers (47%). The mean latent phase of the first stage of labour was shorter in women who consumed date fruit compared with the non-date fruit consumers (510 min vs 906 min).”
The women who consumed 6 dates a day in their 36th week of pregnancy, on average had higher cervical dilation, higher instance intact membranes, less use of labour augmentation, and shorter first stages of labour. Wow!
There was also this study from 2017, in which 154 nulliparous (no previous pregnancies) were either a date consumer, or not. In this study, the 77 woman who had consumed dates had significantly less need for labour augmentation, but the onset of labour was not expedited.
There’s also this one study mentioned on the Midwife Collective website where they used the Bishop score to measure the effects of date consumption of first time mothers. The Bishop score uses 5 measurements to determine how likely a vaginal birth is, & if induction will be necessary. These include: cervical dilation, effacement (how thin the cervix is), how soft the cervix is, where the cervix is in the vagina, and the station (how far down the baby’s head is).
“The results in the group that ate dates had a higher, more favourable Bishop Score, and a higher cervical dilation at admission, and even though the rates of induction were lower, the group that ate dates were more successful with inductions at 41 weeks.”
Going by the studies alone, it looks like dates are the ultimate food for making sure your labour is shorter and smoother.
Why is this the case? It could be because of a few reasons.
Dates are chock-full of fibre & have laxative properties, and so they help to stimulate uterine contractions, which in turn prevent constipation. They are also a good source of that much needed folate, as well as vitamin K, magnesium, and iron. All super important nutrients when you are growing a little one!
Because they do have a fairly high fructose content, it’s best to avoid most sugary foods during your second trimester when the risk of gestational diabetes is heightened. As well, if you are trying to maintain your blood sugar or are battling yeast or another type of infection, perhaps skip the dates.
If everything is good to go though, and you are not high risk, it’s recommended to start eating about 6 dates per day from your 36th week of pregnancy!
If you’re kind of ‘meh’ about the taste of dates there are a couple different delicious ways to eat them. One that I love, is by combining it with peanut butter. Mouth. Watering.
Another is by making energy balls! There’s a great Canadian company called Ohh! Foods (which just happens to be free of the top 8 allergens), that makes these delicious little pouches of snack balls in 3 yummy flavours (chewy cookie, apple pie, and coconut!)
Ohh! Foods munchies can be found in the Silver Birth pregnancy care package!
Did you eat dates when you were pregnant? Did you notice any effects because of them? Let me know in the comments!