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Preparing for Labour by Eating Dates

The last few weeks of pregnancy can feel like a long wait full of final moments of nesting and organizing, excitement to meet the new baby, and physically and emotionally preparing for birth and parenthood. While we have little control over when baby comes, many women choose options such as herbs, acupuncture, stretch and sweeps, sex, walking, spicy food, pineapples and more to try to naturally start labour.

Some new and interesting research has emerged over the past decade indicating that consuming dates in the last month of pregnancy may have significant impacts on birth.

Findings from the Research:

- Increased cervical dilation upon admission to hospital (3.52 cm in women who ate dates, compared with 2.02 cm in women who did not in one study, 4.05 compared with 2.97 in a second study)

- Increased rate of spontaneous labour (96% of those who consumed dates, compared with 79% women who did not)

- Lower use of pitocin to augment labour (28% compared with 47% in one study, 37% compared with 50% in a second study)

- Shortened latent phase of the first stage of labour (510 min compared with 906 min)

While these studies were small and have their limitations, dates are a safe food to consume during pregnancy, so therefore may be an option women consider when preparing for birth. Of note, dates are high in sugar, so women with gestational diabetes should be cautious and speak with their health care provider prior.

References

Al-Kuran, O., et al. (2011). “The effect of late pregnancy consumption of date fruit on labour and delivery” J Obstet Gynaecol 31(1): 29-31.

Kordi M, Meybodi FA, Tara F, Shakeri MT. (2014). “The effect of late pregnancy consumption of date fruit on cervical ripening in nulliparous women.” Journal of Midwifery and Reproductive Health 2:150–156.

Razali, N., et al. (2017). “Date fruit consumption at term: Effect on length of gestation, labour and delivery.” J Obstet Gynaecol: 1-6.