How eating dates can help to improve your pregnancy health and potentially quicken your labour
Dates are known as the jewel of the desert, used by nomads and Beduans for centuries for both survival and celebration. Eating of date fruits and their importance are mentioned in many ancient scriptures and religious books like the Bible and Quran.
We often see dates in brilliant display in the UAE especially in the holy month of Ramadan.
Widely known for their beneficial health properties, dates contain large amounts of good fibre, natural sugars and zero fat. Containing high antioxidant compounds, dates could have the potential of preventing diabetes, cancer, heart disease and neurological problems like Alzheimer’s disease. *
Dates also contain iron, potassium, Vitamin K and folate, fabulous for mama and baby.
As a Midwife I often see Arabic women eating dates in their labour, as an energy source. Given that they are rich in natural fructose for an energy boost, it makes perfect sense for a quick pick-me-up.
Pregnant women in middle Eastern cultures have been eating dates for generations believing in their natural goodness but only recently has this secret been let out into the West.
A small study done at the Jordan University of Science and Technology ** compared two groups of pregnant women and monitored their progress of labour. One group were asked to consume 6 dates daily for 4 weeks prior to their due date and the other group consumed no dates.
They found very interestingly that the “date consuming group” had a higher rate of spontaneous labour (96% compared to 79% with the non-fruit consumers) and that the average latent phase of labour was shorter with the date consuming group (510 minutes vs 906 minutes). Use of any hormones to start or push labour forward, were also significantly less in the date consuming group.
This study was printed in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, who reviewed the results of the study. It concluded that consuming the fruit in the last 4 weeks before labour significantly reduced the need for induction and augmentation of labour. However, it also states that the study is small, and a larger more randomised controlled trial is warranted.
It is advisable to ask your doctor if this is safe for you before you consume large amounts of dates in your pregnancy.
For now, it leaves us with delicious food for thought!
* The American Dietetic Association
** ‘’The effect of late pregnancy consumption of date fruit on labour and delivery.” Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2011