Once you announce a pregnancy you are often inundated with advice of things to do or not do and as your due date approaches this can really ramp up as people want to share all sorts of tips to encourage labour or makes things quicker and easier.
The early advice may or may not be welcome – it depends who it is coming from and how you are feeling about pregnancy – but by the time you are edging closer to, or beyond, your due date you may well be grabbing on to any little bit of information that will help you.
Some of these are weird and wonderful, some have a bit of logic behind them and some are really just very random. A very few have science behind them and it can be hard to know which is which especially if it absolutely, totally worked for the person telling you.
Something that may crop up is to eat dates in late pregnancy.
Dates will give lots of benefits due to all the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants but one advantage may well be the fibre!
Pregnancy constipation is not an uncommon ailment and if your iron levels are low the supplements might not do you any favours when it comes to your bowels. Eating four dates a day can give you 25% of your daily recommended fibre intake and will hopefully make things work a little more smoothly.
Your daily dates will also help with potassium, calcium, vitamin K, iron and some B vitamins.
If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes or are conscious of watching your blood sugar levels you might find dates a handy addition to your diet. Dates are a low GI food which means they are digested more slowly and don’t lead to a quick rise in blood sugar levels so might be a good snack food. They are quite high in calories so don’t get carried away! (If you have gestational diabetes do take advice from the health care professionals looking after you when it comes to diet and exercise).
What about birth?
There are a couple of studies which showed some benefits of eating dates when it comes to birth. Eating 6 dates a day for the last 4 weeks of pregnancy led to a softer cervix and shorter first stage of labour. It was also linked to less need for oxytocin to induce or speed up labour.
I think that sounds good! Most people are up for something that makes labour a bit quicker, avoids interventions, and if you are worried about hanging around waiting for your baby, maybe some dates will help get things going. *
So if you enjoy eating dates, go for it. There are certainly nutritional benefits and who knows maybe there will be benefits when it comes to birth too.
*A little caveat. Babies come when babies are ready, if you and your baby aren’t quite there yet then all the efforts to try and start things will be in vain. I am not sure we know why dates seem to help the cervix to prepare but it is unlikely to do anything a week or two before baby was planning to arrive!