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Eating dates makes labour easier, faster —Scientists

When it comes to childbirth, there is evidence that something as simple as eating date fruits during pregnancy can also help. Its consumption can make labour and delivery easy, short, and healthy.

Researchers in separate studies suggest that eating date fruits during pregnancy can help ensure an easier labour and birth. All these studies have fairly consistent results.

In one of the studies, women who ate six date fruits a day for the four weeks leading up to their due date had a 77 per cent shorter first stage of labour.

The study, conducted in 2011 and published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, compared 69 women who consumed six date fruits per day prior to their estimated date of delivery to 45 women who consumed none.

In fact, those who consumed dates had an average of 8.5 hours of first stage labour while those who didn’t have an average 15.1 hours of first stage labour.

The women who ate dates were dilated an average of 3.5 cm upon admission, compared to 2 cm in those who didn’t. In addition, 96 per cent of the women who consumed dates went into spontaneous labour and did not have to be induced compared to only 79 per cent of those who didn’t.

Only a small percentage of women who consumed dates needed prostin/oxytocin (28 per cent) compared to those who didn’t consume dates (47 per cent). Also, a smaller percentage of women who consumed dates had their membranes rupture in early labour (17per cent) compared to those who didn’t (40 per cent).

The authors of the study concluded that “the consumption of date fruit in the last four weeks before labour significantly reduced the need for induction and augmentation of labour, and produced a more favourable, but non-significant, delivery outcome.”

Another study in 2014 published in the Journal of Midwifery & Reproductive Health that looked at date consumption in late pregnancy as it relates to cervical ripening found that date fruit caused more effective contractions and better prepared the cervix for delivery.

The clinical trial conducted at Omolbanin Hospital, Mashhad, Iran and performed on 210 women found that women who ate 70 to 75 grammes of dates per day after 37 weeks of pregnancy had 43 per cent lower rates of cesarean section.

Cervical ripening before the onset of labour is an important factor for the prediction of delivery mode. Increased cervical ripeness increases the likelihood of vaginal delivery and decreases the rate of cesarean section

The experimental group consumed date fruit (70 to 75 gr per day) until the onset of labour pain and the control group received routine care.

Mean cervical dilatation was higher in women consuming date fruit, compared to the non-consuming group. Also, date eaters were found to be 55 per cent less likely to use oxytocin to induce labour and 68 per cent more likely to have a successful vaginal delivery after labour induction.

Another study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology which supported all the initial findings concluded that dates consumption during late pregnancy has been shown to positively affect the outcome of labour and delivery without adverse effect on the mother and child.

In this 2017 study, dates consumption reduced the need for labour augmentation with oxytocin but did not expedite the onset of labour.

According to the findings, the researchers suggested that dates consumption in late pregnancy is a safe supplement to be considered as it reduces the need for labour intervention without any adverse effect on the mother and child.

Previously, other researchers demonstrated that date fruit reduces the amount of bleeding compared to oxytocin in the first hour following placental delivery, due to the presence of compounds in date fruit that mimicks the action of oxytocin. This makes date a suitable alternative for oxytocin.

It was also found that the consumption of date fruit increases the pain threshold, helps strengthen the muscles of the womb as well as prepares the womb for the child delivery.

There are numerous varieties of date fruits such as red, black, soft, dry, and more, sold worldwide. Date fruits are highly nutritious as they are high in proteins, fibre and vitamins, which are essential for pregnant women. As dates are rich sources of fibre, they keep the digestive system healthy and treat pregnancy-related constipation.

The iron content reduces bad cholesterol and thus reduces the risk of cardiovascular issues. Dates are a good source of folate. Folate prevents birth defects related to the brain and spinal cord.

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