No we are not getting into the big ‘due date’ debate, I mean the fruit!
Pregnancy is a time of various cravings and food indulgences but you are generally keen to eat healthily by consuming the right foods. But almost as soon as you find yourself pregnant it appears that everyone starts advising you what to eat and what to avoid! So what am I going to do? Naturally I am going to add to this…
First of all lets go way back…The Quran tells of Mary eating dates in labour when: “The pains of labour drove her to the trunk of a date-palm" (Qur’an, 19:23-26).
"So?" I hear you mumble.."what's the significance of eating date fruit in pregnancy?...Why should I consider eating yet another health food?"
Well it all started for me after a small but impressive study of 69 pregnant women who took part in date fruit research. 45 of the women in the group ate no dates but the remainder consumed six dates each daily for 4 weeks prior to their due dates. Check out these impressive findings:
Cervical dilation was significantly greater in the date-eating mums on arrival at hospital for assessent
83% of mothers who consumed dates had their membranes (waters) intact upon admission
96% of the women who ate dates went into labour on their own
Use of synthetic oxytocin (Drug used to induce or augment labour) was significantly lower in women who consumed dates (28%), compared with the non-date fruit mothers (47%)
The latent phase of the first stage of labour was almost 7 hours shorter in the date-eating mothers compared with the non-date fruit eaters.
The impressive results of this study calls for a randomized controlled trial as it appears that simply eating six of these magic little fruits could significantly reduce the need for induction and augmentation of labour!
I was so impressed I wanted to look further to see if I could find any other potential benefits… Oh, I did, there’s so much more to this humble fruit…
Some experiments have shown results that point to the strengthening of the uterine muscles due to consumption of dates. This is beneficial particularly in the last months of pregnancy. Then there was a randomised clinical trial between the use of dates and artificial oxytocin in the management of postpartum haemorrhage (very heavy bleeding after birth). This study demonstrated a significant reduction in the amount of post birth bleeding experienced by women who consumed date fruit compared to women who received synthetic oxytocin. The trial was completed in two different hospitals. Immediately after the birth of the placenta (third stage of labour) one group were given 50 grams of dates each and the other group received 10 units of synthetic oxytocin via intramuscular injection. Mean blood loss at the end of the first hour following birth were significantly different in dates and oxytocin groups. Blood loss being significantly lower in the date eating group. The researchers suggested that dates are effective for management of postpartum haemorrhage because dates have Calcium, serotonin, tannin, linoleic acid, enzymes, iron and other nutrients beneficial to control bleeding and prevent anaemia. Khadem, Sharaphy, Latifnejad (2007)
Wait, there is more… Dates are even believed to contain elements that assist in alleviating depression in mothers and by enriching breast milk with elements needed to make the child healthy and resistant to disease. Dates are also digested very easily therefore they are good for supplying quick energy. Great for that energy boost during labour!
With all this information it may be concluded that dates may be of real benefit to women in pregnancy, and those who are breastfeeding. In fact the date palm has been referenced to as a “tree of life,” probably due to its excellent health benefits as well as its high nutritional value.
Phew, I have brain ache! Lots of fascinating and useful info on such a little fruit!
So Ladies can you see how just six dates a day could easily be added to your “make labour happen and go more smoothly” routine with very little effort? These little fruits may actually make a huge difference! Worth a try?
Hate dates? There are many recipies that you can try, just have a google! You can hide those dates in almost anything!
Enjoy reading, researching, and munching and feel free to share your findings or stories on this amazing fruit if you decide to add them to your pregnancy diet...
P.s Although it appears there is excellent evidence for the eating of dates, all of the above mentioned studies still require further research and should never replace the use of emergency medical assistance. Thank you