Fact or Fiction? Dates Can Shorten Labor

Date Fruit in Bowl

As I near the last several weeks of my 4th pregnancy, I am reading more and more about ways to shorten labor, cause natural induction, and prepare for birth. Usually I come across articles where there is anecdotal evidence suggest eating lots of pineapple, taking a shot of castor oil, or eating very spicy food will induce labor. Pineapple? Sure, I can eat some pineapple, but I have to watch my blood sugar levels. Castor Oil? No thank you! Yuck! Spicy food? Sure, I love spicy food, but I am not going to set my mouth on fire just to induce labor! So, when I came across an article about how just eating 5-6 dates per day can shorten labor, I was very intrigued to find out more information!

It’s a Fact! Dates can shorten labor!  Here is the study about pregnant women who ate dates during the last few weeks of pregnancy, in which they found that:

  •  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, p < 0.0005), and a significantly higher proportion of intact membranes (83% vs 60%, p = 0.007).
  • Spontaneous labour occurred in 96% of those who consumed dates, compared with 79% women in the non-date fruit consumers (p = 0.024).
  • Use of prostin/oxytocin was significantly lower in women who consumed dates (28%), compared with the non-date fruit consumers (47%) (p = 0.036).
  • 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, p = 0.044).
  • It is concluded that the 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. The results warrant a randomised controlled trial. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21280989)

Reading these benefits had me put down dates on the top of my shopping list for the week! The number of dates consumed was 6 per day, and it is definitely worthwhile to try during the last several weeks of pregnancy! Especially considering the findings from the study that stated that eating dates “significantly reduced the need for induction”, which I definitely want to avoid! Plus, they taste delicious and provide other great health benefits like fiber, essential vitamins and  minerals, and a great boost of energy. Here is a link to some quick facts about the benefits of dates.

My favorite way to eat dates is just to snack on a few right out of the container. They are a no fuss food that you can grab and go! I love snacks that are easy to take with me and accommodate my busy lifestyle. For those that would like to add variety to the way you eat dates, here is a good website with several date recipes! I am eyeing this healthy date shake recipe that combines almond milk, coconut water, dates, and bananas…Mmm!






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