Quite literally, dates (as in the fruit) have an oxytocin effect on the uterus. Some recent research using randomised control trials found that women who eat 6 dates a day from 36 weeks of pregnancy right through to onset of labour enjoy:
· High rates of spontaneous labour (going into labour on your own without intervention)
· Less chance of needing membranes artificially ruptured (waters break on their own)
· Higher rates of dilation and cervical ripening than non-date eaters
· Shorter labours
· Reduced need for induction with artificial oxytocin (e.g., Pitocin). When induction was necessary, most will still have a vaginal labour
· Lower rates of postpartum haemorrhage
Some points to consider:
· These were small studies, limited to women in Malaysia, Jordan and Iran. We don’t know how well these results translate to different cultures or hospital climates
· Women knew they were eating dates, so there is some increased chance for bias
· Women who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes may be advised not to eat dates due to the high sugar content
In addition to eating dates, it’s a good idea to get some oxytocin stores in the bank in the lead up to your birth. No matter what journey your birthing takes, a good store of oxytocin can only make birth smoother and calmer for mum and baby. Watch this video for some ideas!
Al-Kuran, O., et al. (2011). “The effect of late pregnancy consumption of date fruit on labour and delivery.” J Obstet Gynaecol 31(1): 29-31.
Khadem N, Sharaphy A, Latifnejad R, Hammod N, I R. 2007. Comparing the efficacy of dates and oxytocin in the management of postpartum hemorrhage. Shiraz E-Medical Journal 8:64–71.
Kordi M, Meybodi FA, Tara F, Shakeri MT. (2014). “The effect of late pregnancy consumption of date fruit on cervical ripening in nulliparous women.” Journal of Midwifery and Reproductive Health 2:150–156.
Razali, N., et al. (2017). “Date fruit consumption at term: Effect on length of gestation, labour and delivery.” J Obstet Gynaecol: 1-6.