As your pregnancy winds to an end and you find yourself stocking up on diapers, prepping your bag for the birth center, and finishing your childbirth education classes, there’s one other thing to remember… DATES!
Hop in the car and head to a natural foods store (Sprouts, Whole Foods, etc.) to stock up on some dates for snacking during your last few weeks of pregnancy.
The date fruit is the product of the date palm, a tree native to Northern Africa and the Middle East. There are many kinds of dates and each variety is unique in size, sweetness, flavor, and texture.
So why eat dates in pregnancy? So. Many. Reasons.
“They’re a nutritional powerhouse, packed with vitamins, minerals, and protein,” says Maribeth Diver MSN, CNM, a midwife at Babymoon Inn birth center. “They’re especially rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc, and they contain 23 types of amino acids, 14 types of fatty acids, and fiber.”
But that’s not all. Research has demonstrated significant benefits for pregnant women who eat six dates a day beginning four weeks before their due date.
These women were:
- more dilated upon labor admission
- more likely to have their amniotic sac remain in tact until after labor began
- less likely to be induced or have labor augmented with medication
- less likely to have long, slow, tiring “prelabor”
Eating dates during labor has also been shown to reduce vomiting, increase energy, and shorten the length of pushing. It has also been shown to reduce the amount of bleeding after birth.
Excited about an easier, shorter labor but not sure how to eat six dates a day? Google date recipes or borrow one from Babymoon Inn’s registered dietitian Megan McNamee.
“Dates are a good source of fiber and potassium that can act as a natural sweetener in many recipes,” she says. “My favorite way to use them is by blending them with equal parts nuts like macadamia nuts or almonds until smooth to form an energy ball. Stir in shredded unsweetened coconut or cocoa nibs for fun variations. Roll into one-inch balls and freeze. They’re great straight from the freezer!”
Did you eat dates around YOUR date? Do you feel like it benefitted you during labor?