When it comes to delivering our babies, we all hope to have an easy, short and healthy labor and delivery. Every pregnancy is different and every childbirth is different (even when you have multiple children). While there are a number of other things you can do to help achieve an easy and short labor and delivery, there’s evidence that something as simple as eating dates during pregnancy can help.
I know what your thinking – dates? How is this going to help me with my labor and delivery? Will this truly help me? When do I start this process? Let me explain!
During my first pregnancy with my son, I ate up to 6 dates a day starting at 36 weeks. There are a number of different recommendations when to start eating dates however I started at 36 weeks. I first started with eating a Larabar that contained dates in it for the first week and then ate anywhere between 5-6 medjool dates a day until 40 weeks. Also, I drank red raspberry leaf tea which you can read more about here.
Although I had to get induced at 41 weeks because my doctor wouldn’t let me go passed 41 weeks 4 days, I should have held off longer but because it was my first pregnancy I was too afraid. I went into the hospital with my cervix 100% effaced and 3cm dilated. My water broke on its own at around 2:30 pm, I didn’t feel contractions until 3ish pm and I delivered my son by 10:07 pm. Total of 8 hours for first-time childbirth – not too bad!
Now with my second (due May 2020) things will DEFINITELY be different. I have more knowledge going into my second pregnancy and will not be forced to have my baby if we are both healthy!
but let’s dive into all the questions you may have about dates below!
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Let’s start off with… How does eating dates during pregnancy help?
- Stimulates uterine contractions
- Reduces postpartum hemorrhage the way oxytocin does
- Contains an oxytocin-like effect on the body which helps the uterus stretch and be prepared for child delivery.
Dates are safe and beneficial to mom and baby and can satisfy your sweet tooth! Dates are also known for their nutritional benefits, including:
- Natural Fructose Sugars – easily break down and provide energy without causing a spike in blood sugar levels in the body.
- Fiber – relieves pregnancy-related constipation, keeps the digestive system healthy, makes you feel full and lowers your risk for gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
- Potassium – one of the best electrolytes. It helps maintain water/salt balance which helps regulate blood pressure.
- Magnesium – supports muscular health and helps alleviate muscle spasms and cramps in pregnancy.
- Folate – ensures your baby’s spinal cord matures properly, avoiding congenital defects related to the brain and spinal cord.
- Vitamin K – maintains proper blood clotting and healthy bones. If mom consumes dates not only during but after pregnancy, the baby may get some of the Vitamin K through breastmilk (babies are born with low Vitamin K).
When to eat dates during pregnancy?
In studies referenced below, pregnant women began eating dates 3-4 weeks before their estimated due date (36th week of pregnancy) however they can be eaten at any stage of gestation. Just be cautious about the amount you eat.
You can begin eating dates earlier in your pregnancy if you prefer and have done more research. But please keep in mind that dates are high in sugar and if you have blood sugar problems, don’t go too crazy with the dates early in your pregnancy.
It is good to eat them in moderation if you plan on eating them during your first trimester, especially if you have group B strep or as mentioned above blood sugar problems.
In the second trimester, you are at high risk of developing gestational diabetes therefore some women also wait until after they take their gestational diabetes test around 27 weeks. Please always ask your doctor’s opinion!
Eating dates in your third trimester, which is typically what pregnant women do starting at 36 weeks, can make your labor shorter and easier.
Studies: NCBI and Journal of Midwifery & Reproductive Health
How many dates should I eat a day?
In the studies referenced above, women ate 6 dates a day (about 70-75g) provided they were eating smaller dates. Deglet Noor dates are about 1″ long vs Medjool can be up to 2″.
You can visually see in the packaging some dates are larger than others – use your judgment. I would either have 5 or 6 depending on the size of the dates however I ate Medjool.
What kind of dates is best – Deglet Noor or Medjool?
Either Deglet Noor or Medjool, fresh or dried is fine, but if you’re eating the larger medjool dates, you only need to eat around 4-5 per day.
Where can I buy organic dates?
You can find dates at your local grocery store or in the links below:
There are many options! Search for what will be best for you whether or not you prefer organic, Medjool or Deglet Noor brand, pitted/nonpitted, fresh or dried, etc.
How do I eat dates during pregnancy?
You can eat the dates as is. Just be sure they are pitted – if not, no big deal, just careful when biting into them and dispose of the pit after.
If you don’t like to eat dates as is, there are some ideas below or check out these recipes to help you!
- Blended into your smoothies to add a sweet taste
- Add soaked dates to homemade nut butter
- Add dates to sweeten homemade salad dressing
- Larabar (contain dates)
What do dates taste like?
They are really sweet, and taste yummy! The texture is similar to a raisin. If you have tried them before and dislike them, try eating the dates with the suggestions above.
Now that we have gone over the important questions about dates, there should be other things you are doing during your pregnancy to help achieve an easy, short delivery such as:
- Stay Active – Regular exercise such as walking, stretching, and pregnancy exercises/yoga to help open your pelvis. There are a lot of options out there but you always want to stay active.
- Practice Perineal Massage – Helps to prevent tearing during childbirth.
- Nutrition – Being properly nourished with real food can keep your strength up and increase stamina during labor. This includes taking your prenatal vitamins daily.
- Prenatal Classes – The right class should inform you to make the best decisions for you and your baby and help you learn natural pain coping techniques.
Have you heard about drinking Red Raspberry Leaf Tea during pregnancy to help with labor? Read Drinking Red Raspberry Leaf Tea During Pregnancy
Did you eat dates during your pregnancy? Did you find that it helped ease your labor and delivery? Comment below!
Be sure to pin this post to reference back when you have reached your 36th week of pregnancy!
Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have.