What's the Deal with Dates?
How eating dates can affect the outcome of your birth experience.
Have you ever heard someone suggest that you eat a lot of dates in the later months of your pregnancy? This may seem like just another random old wives' tale to get labor started, but unlike pineapple, curb walking and spicy food, dates actually have research backing up the claims.
A prospective study in 2007-2008 found that women who ate six dates every day for the four weeks leading up to birth had better birth outcomes! Here is what they found:
Increase in cervical dilation upon admission (3.53 cm vs. 2.02 cm)
Fewer cases of premature rupture of membranes (17% vs. 40%)
Higher proportion of spontaneous labor (96% vs. 79%)
Smaller use of synthetic oxytocin drugs during labor (used in 28% labors vs. 47%)
Lessened amount of time in pre-labor (510 minute average vs. 906 minute average)
This study concluded that "consumption of date fruit in the last 4 weeks before labour significantly reduced the need for induction and augmentation of labour, and produced a more favourable, but non-significant, delivery outcome."
Those all sound like good things to me. Bring on the dates, please!
"But wait," you may be asking, "How will I manage to get six of those big, dried, chewy lumps into my body every single day?"
While some have no problem easily downing a handful of dates, others may feel like they're choking down massive mouthfuls of gluey globs. Here are a few of my favorite suggestions if eating dates is more of a struggle for you:
Buy your dates already pitted. Trying to get the pit out of date fruits is sticky and time consuming. You don't need any more excuses to give up on this regimen.
Soak your dates in hot water first. No matter how you intend to consume dried dates, soaking them for several minutes in hot water will soften them and make them so much easier to work with.
Try using dates in different recipes! Dates are very sweet. Many women love to add dates to blended smoothie drinks. Their texture makes for a perfect base in these fruit bars. You can also eat them whole if you'd like! Roll them in honey and coconut flakes for a delicious snack.
However you consume your dates, know that each one is helping prepare you for birth in so many ways. I can't think of a more natural or more simple food to support your body through the hard work of pregnancy and birth. Bon appétit!