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Can Eating This Fruit During Pregnancy Speed Up Labor?

Photograph by Twenty20

Women would do just about anything to have a shorter labor, amiright? And while there are many tricks out there to accelerate the process, most of them are just old wives' tales, with no basis in medical reality. I mean, I’ll slather on all the essential oils and bounce my butt off on an exercise ball, but that doesn’t mean it will speed up my dear one’s exit from the womb.

However, it turns out there is one trick to speed up labor that actually has legit evidence behind it—and according to tons of moms, it actually works. Ready for it? Eating dates.

Yup, that sticky, sweet fruit your grandma used throw into all manner of breads and cookies is also scientifically proven to speed up labor. Who would have thought?

A 2011 study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology looked at women who ate six dates a day for the four weeks leading up their due dates, and compared them with women who did not consume dates. At labor, the women who ate dates were significantly more dilated than the women who did not. These women also were more likely to go into labor naturally (without drugs like Pitocin) and had a shorter first stage of labor.

I don’t even like dates, but I would eat boatloads of them for results like that!

Another study, published in the Journal of Midwifery & Reproductive Health, found that dates had a positive effect on cervical ripening (no pun intended) and dilation, and women who were induced after consuming dates had more successful inductions. The researchers pointed to the fact that dates might influence your body’s oxytocin receptors, thereby aiding in more effective contractions.

Finally, a recent study from 2017 published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that while date consumption doesn’t necessarily make you go into labor any sooner, it speeds up labor once it gets started.

“Dates fruit consumption during late pregnancy has been shown to positively affect the outcome of labor and delivery,” wrote the study researchers, who also noted that “dates consumption in late pregnancy is a safe supplement to be considered as it reduced the need for labor intervention without any adverse effect on the mother and child.”

That’s all pretty dang convincing, if you ask me. So, as you’re patiently waiting for your little one to arrive, go ahead and stuff your face with dates.

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