Is your due date getting close? Have you heard claims about the magical effects eating dates can have on the birthing process?
The rumors are out there: dates can help you have a better diet, an easier pregnancy, and a breeze in the delivery room. But how much is fact and how much is fiction?
It’s time to look at the facts behind this potential pregnancy superfood, and learn how you can incorporate them into your picky, craving-packed pregnancy diet.
It’s been whispered through the ages: six dates a day keeps the birthing pains away. Is it true?
Are Dates Safe During Pregnancy?
Yes! Dates have been used as a superfood for around 7000 years, and have been produced for agriculture for the past 5,000. Their history of being consumed for health benefits predates many other superfoods we have come to love, making them a reliable fruit choice.
They’re an important part of a healthy diet, packed with tons of nutrients vital for helping your body thrive. This is amplified most significantly during pregnancy.
Some of the nutrients that dates contain make them incredibly important to expecting moms.These include:
- Potassium: This electrolyte helps maintain an even balance between water and salt in your body.
- Vitamin K: This is one of the main vitamins a baby lacks when born. Eating dates gives them an advanced intake of vitamin K before their first breath.
- Fatty acids: Healthy forms of fatty acids do wonders for saving energy and distributing it throughout the day, helping you beat exhaustion.
- Calcium: During pregnancy, your body takes calcium from you for your little one. To keep teeth and bones strong, it’s key to consume calcium, since it’s not produced in the body.
These are only a few of the powerful aspects dates have that benefit your health and your baby.
Can Dates Improve Labor?
While it may sound like an old wives’ tale, there is some scientific proof to this claim!
A study showed that 90 percent of women who eat six dates every day in the last four weeks of their pregnancy were more dilated upon their arrival at the hospital, had more intact membranes, and spent a shorter amount of time in the first stage of labor (1).
The women who ate dates were also less likely to have their labor induced. Meanwhile, only 79 percent of the women who did not eat dates in the same study had the same simplicity in their experience.
Additional Pregnancy Benefits of Dates
Read on for six ways the incredible edible date fruit may help your general health in the weeks leading up to your due date. (No pun intended!)
1. Prevent Anemia
Iron deficiency can cause anemia, a condition where your body doesn’t have enough red blood cells to perform all its functions well.
For help getting your daily intake of iron, look no further than the humble date.
2. Improve Energy
Snacking on some dried dates can give you a great energy booster. Healthy forms of natural sugar, when combined with the fiber in fruit, can provide your body with longer-lasting energy.
Processed foods, like caffeine and candy bars, may provide a momentary rush, but leave you with a heavy sugar crash.
3. Help Your Baby Grow
Magnesium — you guessed it, found in dates — is an incredible mineral, packed with lots of helpful qualities. These include making sure your baby has strong teeth and bones and preventing premature contractions.
4. Prevents Birth Defects
5. Helps Solve Digestive Issues
Constipation is a struggle that every pregnant woman faces at least once, if not multiple times during her pregnancy. It’s a painful experience, but dates can help it from happening. This is because they’re high in fiber, one of the best ways to cure and prevent constipation.
6. Substitutes Sugar And Sweets
Dates are a healthy option to satisfy your sweet tooth! They can be made into incredible desserts or enjoyed on their own. It’s important to remember not to overdo it, as they still contain sugar — even if that sugar is natural!
Are There Disadvantages To Eating Dates?
Like anything, the results of eating dates will vary between women. It’s important always to discuss any major changes or concerns with your doctor.
There are two main things to remember if you choose to increase the number of dates in your diet leading up to your due date.
Keeping these in mind will help you receive the benefits without problems.
- High Sugar Content: Keep your portions in mind and don’t overdo it! High-glycemic foods, like dates and other products with natural sugar, can increase your chances of type-2 diabetes and encourage weight gain.
If you have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, be sure to limit your intake of sugary foods, including dates.
Editor's Note:Mary Sweeney, BSN, RN, CEN
- Too Much Fiber: Overeating dates can lead to diarrhea, cramping, and other unpleasant experiences related to your digestive tract. Drink a lot of water, and balance your diet with other foods to keep yourself in the clear.
5 Healthy & Delicious Date Recipes
Cooking is one of my passions, but trust me when I say it wasn’t my top activity to do when I was I pregnant.
However, since few people want to snack on raw dates — the dried ones are pretty good — here are a few easy recipes so you can try this superfood for yourself.
A fun, tasty, autumn snack! These nutritional bars are exciting to make and even better to eat.
This one makes an amazing topper for yogurt, or as cereal when paired with dairy or plant-based milk! It’s a superfood packed granola that can be enjoyed by the whole family, and is one of the easiest snacks to munch on during any activity.
When I was pregnant, soup was my favorite food, especially during chilly winter nights. It was a delicious and satisfying way to get a serving of vegetables too! This soup combines spice and comfort for the ultimate winter warm-up.
There are tons of recipes for stuffed dates out there, but my personal favorite for a decadent vegan option combines blueberries and vanilla. You’ll love this super sweet treat!
Since dates are naturally sugary, they make for a wonderful dessert. Why not up their health benefits by making tasty treats that don’t have more sugar than you need? These gluten-free, vegan, cookies are a great choice for anyone looking for a sweet bite that’s also healthy!
Other Foods To Help Ease Labor
So you tried dates and they’re not your thing. That’s okay! If you’re still in the market for more foods to ease the birthing process, there are a few things you can add to your grocery cart.
Nature has provided tons of options for healthy, beneficial eating:
- Coconut Oil: A couple of daily tablespoons of coconut oil can protect you against illness and fight off bacteria and germs.
- Almonds: These can be very tasty when paired with dates. Almonds also contain magnesium, calcium, iron, and vitamin E. Try raw or in nut butter form!
- Orange Juice: Folate, potassium, calcium, and lots of vitamins are found in orange juice, so you can feel good about making it part of your breakfast habit.
- Beans: These fiber-packed superfoods come with a variety of incredible health benefits. They’re a favorite option for pregnant women because of their versatility because it’s easy to please everyone in your family with easy tasty recipes.
Ready For Your Dates?
With all their vitamins and nutrients, introducing dates into your diet can make a world of difference during the birthing process.
Whether you eat them raw, dried, or use them to cook up something delicious, it’s easy to add these to your kitchen and reap the benefits.
Did dates improve your pregnancy? Do you have any tasty treat ideas? Share with us in the comments below!