…not the romantic kind, though that’s certainly not a bad idea if you can find time between feeling tired, nesting, and peeing your pants.
I’m talking about the sweet, edible kind that are conveniently in abundance around the holidays (but can be found any time of the year). I never really ate dates until I started trying refined sugar-less recipes; one of my favorites being Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Larabars by Oh She Glows.
I haven’t been doing a lot of baking these days, but I learned of an interesting study that investigated the effect of date fruit on labor and delivery outcomes. Why someone chose dates to study is beyond me, but the results of said study convinced me that adding dates to my everyday diet would be worth a shot.
So, this is what I’ve been eating…dates on a log. I buy whole Medjool dates and chop them up myself, because I haven’t been able to find unsweetened chopped dates (and really, aren’t dates sweet enough on their own?). Also, chopping them myself ensures I know how many I’m eating.
What’s the study say? Women who consumed six dates per day, beginning 4 weeks ahead of their estimated due dates, had the following results:
- 96% went into spontaneous labor (vs. 79% of women who consumed no dates)
- Only 28% used prostin/oxytocin (vs. 47% of women who consumed no dates)
- Were dilated, on average, a centimeter and a half more upon admission to the hospital
- Had “significantly higher” proportion of intact membranes – 83% (vs. 60% of women who consumed no dates)
In essence, the group who consumed 6 dates per day required less labor augmentation; and the differences seem pretty substantial. The “intact membranes” part was of particular interest to me because, as I learned in my Bradley classes, an intact bag of waters is ideal as it cushions the pain of contractions. Some believe that breaking the waters leads to faster labor (though if you look at the actual studies, the average difference is marginal), it seems that the group who ate dates were also requiring less intervention to move labor along – so it’s really a win-win.
Here’s the study itself for those inquiring minds: The effect of late pregnancy consumption of date fruit on labour and delivery
Have a favorite date recipe to share? You know, in case “dates on a log” gets old…I’d love to hear your suggestions!