Yes, you have heard it right! Dates, when consumed during pregnancy, do help in a smooth labor and normal delivery. After all, who doesn’t want to have a short, easy and a healthy labor? The laxative properties of dates help in stimulating uterine contractions in the uterus and shorten labor. In this article, we will discuss in detail about the secret of dates that help to induce labor, the amount of it that should be consumed during pregnancy, if it is beneficial or not and also, the harmful side effects of dates for pregnant women. Read below to find more about eating dates during pregnancy:
All You Need to Know About Eating Dates During Pregnancy
Why dates are considered a healthy choice?
Dates are definitely considered a healthy snack option both during pregnancy and otherwise. In detail, dates consist of:
- Relieves constipation
- Lowers the risk of gestational diabetes
- Lowers the risk of preeclampsia
- Helps you stay full
- Helps in regulating blood [pressure by maintaining water/ salt balance]
- Supports muscular health
- Alleviates muscle cramps during pregnancy
- Ensuring that the baby’s spinal cord matures properly
- Avoids neural tube defects
- Easily breaks down in the body
- Offers high energy
As per the research, date fruit leads to an increased sensitivity of the uterus because of its oxytocin-like effect on the body. In addition to this, it also helps in stimulating the uterine contractions. As per a study in 2011, women who ate 6 dates per day for a period of four weeks before their due date were likely to see the following effects:
- Get into labor spontaneously
- Shorter first phase of labor
- Avoid Pitocin
- Intacted membranes upon admitting into the hospital
Another2014 study in the journal of Midwifery & Reproductive Health was conducted to look at the consumption of dates in the late pregnancy as it was related to cervical ripening. The following things were noted about women who ate 70-75 grams of dates a day after 37 weeks pregnancy:
- Successful rates of labor induction
- Greater cervical dilation
- Higher Bishop scores at admission to the place of birth
When should one start eating dates during pregnancy?
As we discussed above, pregnant women began with consumption of dates three of four weeks before their estimated due date. They began to eat 70-75 grams of dates a day at 36 weeks pregnancy or 37 weeks pregnancy.
Although you can begin with them even earlier as stated but you should consume them in moderation during the early pregnancy. Also, if you are eating medjool dates, you just need to eat 3 dates in order to serve the need for 75 grams of it per day.
How to eat dates
There can be a number of ways you can add dates in your diet. Some of these are listed below:
- You can add soaked dates to homemade nut butter
- Replace sugar by adding dates in your favourite recipe or almond milk.
- Add some in the oatmeal recipe.
- Add dates to your homemade salad.
- You can also add some in your pie crust.
If you are someone who has never really liked the taste of dates, then you can try to eat them with peanut butter and little sea salt.
When should dates be consumed during pregnancy?
As discussed above, you can consume them at any time during pregnancy. All you need to consider is the amount you consume.
Constipation is one of the most common problems in the first trimester, which can be easily relieved with the help of dates. However, if you have the problems of blood sugar levels or group B strep, it is recommended you eat them in moderation.
During this stage, one is at a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes. Thus, at this stage you must first consult your doctor before including dates in your diet.
Dates help to shorten the labor and also make it easier for pregnant women. Thereby, one can start to consume six dates per day from the 36th week or four weeks before their estimated due date.
Harmful effects of dates during pregnancy
Although there are not really any harmful side effects of dates till the time you consume them in moderation and not overeat them. But in case of overeating, following causes may persist:
- Increased blood sugar
- Tooth decay (in case of poor hygiene)
- Excessive gestational weight
- Risk of gestational diabetes
Although this healthy and delicious snack is generally considered safe during pregnancy, but only when it is consumed in moderation. In case, you overeat them, it may lead to certain complications as listed above. More importantly, pregnancy is a crucial time and you should pay extra attention to what you eat during this period. Thereby, it is recommended that before making an addition or change in your diet, it is better you consult your doctor.