Can eating dates help with labour?
can dates help labour

You may have heard that eating dates help with labour, maybe you have assumed it is an old wives tale? Well, shockingly, there is actually lots of really great evidence that eating dates in pregnancy can help with labour!

Let’s break it down:

The guidelines from one study found that eating 6-8 dates per day during the last 4 weeks of pregnancy (from 36 weeks onwards) resulted in:

  • Individuals who had eaten dates in pregnancy were significantly more dilated when they first presented to their choice of birth place compared to those who had not eaten dates. (3.52cm vs 2.02cm)

  • Significantly higher number of women who’s waters haven’t broken early in labour, reducing the risk of infection getting into the uterus (83% vs 60%)

  • 96% of women who eat dates in pregnancy had their labour start naturally compared to 79% who didn’t eat fruit.

  • There was a much lower rate of needing induction or augmentation of labour in those who consumed dates (28%) compared to those who didn’t (47%)

  • The early stages 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)

A direct quote from the study results:

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.

Further randomised controlled studies have taken place – groups eating dates from 36 weeks showed significantly less need for induction of labour using prostin or synthetic oxytocin! Even better, one study proved that women who ate dates during labour gave birth to babies with a higher APGAR score at 5 minutes post birth!

The evidence is there! Eating dates can help labour! They are safe to eat (although if you have gestational diabetes discuss this with your midwife) and delicious! You can try just eating them as they come or try out different recipes to find ways to build them into your diet towards the end of your pregnancy.

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