Eating Dates While Nearing Your Due Date

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Photo by M. Dhifallah

Guggie of The Guggie Daily recently shared an interesting study on her facebook page that talked about the benefits of eating dates during the final weeks of pregnancy to prepare for labor. It seems that dates, the fruit from the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) could be an expecting mama’s new coveted snack. Here’s a link to the study’s abstract that was published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in 2011.

It was a small but impressive study. 69 women ate at six dates per day for 4 weeks prior to their estimated delivery date. 45 women ate no dates. The women who ate the dates every day had the benefit of a more ripe cervix on the big day. Check this out:

  • The mean cervical dilation for the women who ate dates was 3.52 centimeters while the non-date eating women had a mean cervical dilation of only 2.02 centimeters.
  • The date group was able to maintain membrane integrity. In the US delivery room, that equates to less intervention and much less pressure. Approximately 83 women who ate dates entered labor with intact membranes while only 60% of the women who did not consume dates had intact membranes at the start of labor.
  • 96% of women who consumed dates enjoyed the benefit of spontaneous labor, while only 47% of the date-free women shared that benefit.
  • The use of medication like oxytocin to induce labor was significantly lower in the women who ate dates. Only 28% of the women who ate dates were given this kind of labor “help” while 47% of the women who didn’t eat dates were able to avoid the use of medicines like oxytocin.
  • The latent phase of the first stage of labor was also reduced by eating dates. Date eating mamas enjoyed only laboring in this stage for a mean of 510 minutes compared to 906 minutes for the mamas that did not consume this fruit.

The study called for a randomized controlled trial given these impressive differences claiming that it appeared as though simply eating six of these tasty fruits from the date palm tree could significantly reduce the need for induction and augmentation of labor.

When I got to 36 weeks, I began walking endlessly around city parks and eating spicy foods that didn’t quite sit well. I drank raspberry leave tea like a champ and started memorizing acupressure points for the big day. Six dates a day could have easily been added to my “make labor go more smoothly” routine with very little effort, and from the sounds of it, a pretty hefty potential payoff.


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