Let’s face it: Childbirth is no walk in the park. But a study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology offers a glimmer of hope to moms-to-be. It turns out that adding a sweet fruit to your late pregnancy diet could shorten labor and reduce your risk of being medically induced.
So, what should you load up on at the grocery store? Dates.
The study, spearheaded by Jordan University of Science and Technology, tracked 69 expectant moms over the last four weeks of pregnancy right through delivery. One group ate six dates each day while the other totally abstained.
When it came time for the big day, the women who enjoyed dates fared much better than those who did not. Let’s look at the outcomes:
Upon admission to the hospital, the first group – the women who ate dates – were significantly more dilated than their counterparts.
When it came time to get the ball rolling, 96 percent of moms-to-be in the first group experienced spontaneous labor – meaning they were not medically induced by their health care team. On the other hand, 79 percent of women from the second group went into labor on their own.
Pass the Pitocin
There are many instances when a woman’s doctor or midwife might reach for the Pitocin. Whether to initiate labor or to kick it into high gear, Pitocin is many a hospital’s labor drug of choice – but it doesn’t come without its down sides. For the group who ate dates, 28 percent were administered Pitocin, while 47 percent of the second group were given the drug.
Here’s where the real magic happens in this study: For the women who ate dates, it took them an average of 8.5 hours to dilate fully, as compared to the 15.1 hours it took for the moms-to-be who didn’t eat dates during pregnancy.
The bottom line
When it comes to a safe and natural way to potentially affect the time you labor, you’ll be hard pressed to find an easier option. While dates may not make for a shorter, easier labor for every woman, what do you possibly have to lose from adding one delicious ingredient to your daily diet? One note for women who have gestational diabetes, dates are high in natural sugars, so we encourage you to run this method by your health care provider.