Medjool dates are more than just a sweet superfood--they are the perfect pre-labor food for mamas, offering unique benefits when it comes to supporting labor too.
Dates are great for taming a sweet tooth, supporting healthy bowel movements, and supplying the body with important nutrients like potassium and iron. But did you know that dates are also a superfood for mamas-to-be who are close to their due date?
Sure, dates are a fantastic addition to a pregnancy-friendly diet for the more obvious reasons, like their impressive nutrient density and antioxidant richness. But eating these sweet morsels of fruit has been shown to offer some unique benefits when it comes to supporting labor too.
Let’s take a step back and think about what needs to happen for natural birth to occur. The cervix, or the lower end of the uterus, is usually quite firm --- too firm to allow a baby’s head to make its way through it. This is why your cervix must ripen, or soften, before you start pushing.
Although some may be more of an old wives' tale than truly evidence-based remedies, there are some things women can do that may get the ball rolling in the cervical softening department, including going for a walk or having unprotected intercourse (seriously!).
When it comes to cervical ripening-supporting foods, noshing on about 5 dates every day during the last few weeks of pregnancy has been shown to help improve cervical ripening, making them a perfect pre-labor food for future mamas.
Medjool Dates are the Perfect Pre-Labor Food
In one study, researchers found that women who ate 6 dates a day for the 4 weeks before delivery had the following results:
- higher cervical dilatation and ripening at hospital admission
- lower c-section rate
- less need for certain medications
- shorter labor when compared with women who did not eat dates daily.
Specifically, according to the results of this study, spontaneous labor occurred in 96% of those who consumed dates, compared with 79% of women in the non-date fruit consumers.
And the best news? There is little (if any) downside to eating dates during late pregnancy. So, while more well-designed studies are needed to know whether eating dates during the last weeks of pregnancy will for sure offer these significant benefits, including these tasty treats in your diet won’t hurt anything, and it may help!
Dates are jam-packed with pregnancy-friendly nutrients
Dates are jam-packed with key nutrients pregnant women need during pregnancy, including magnesium, iron, calcium, and potassium. And when it comes to a perfect food to toss into your hospital bag, dates certainly fit the bill, thanks to these fresh fruits having a long shelf life and staying fresh for a long time. (Pro tip: pack Joolies 3 Date Snack Pack in your hospital bag along with some natural nut butter for a combo that is as satisfying as it is convenient to eat. You may not get snacks served to you after you deliver, and you may be famished after doing all of that hard work!)
There are various ways to enjoy dates during your late pregnancy diet. From tossing them into smoothies to using them as a sweetener in energy bites, dates can be included in plenty of dishes that are easy to eat during this stage of your pregnancy journey.
The Bottom line
Including dates in your diet during the last few months of pregnancy may help your body get labor-ready in a natural way while also giving you a boost of sweetness and a slew of important nutrients.
Are you a mom-to-be? Check out more resources For Mom's here!
Written by: Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LDN, CLEC, CPT
Registered Dietician, Nutritionist, Women's Health Expert and Freelance Writer