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Can Pitted Dates Induce Labor? A Look at the Research

Pitted Dates

There are tons of websites with suggestions on how pregnant women can induce labor naturally. One recommendation that frequently pops up on these sites is to eat Medjool dates or regular pitted dates in the weeks leading up to labor. But does it actually work, or is the claim that eating dates induces labor yet another myth that needs busting?

Interestingly, several studies have actually looked at the effects of date consumption in pregnant women approaching their due date. Read on to learn about the promising results these studies have reported.

Early Research Suggests Eating Dates May Reduce the Risk of Artificially-Induced Labor

In 2007, a group of researchers from Jordan set to investigate the effects of date fruit consumption on labor parameters. Carried out at Jordan University of Science and Technology, this prospective study involved 69 pregnant women who ate six dates per day for four weeks prior to their due date and 45 pregnant women who did not eat any dates. Spontaneous, non-induced labor occurred in 96% of the women who ate dates, while only 79% of those who didn't consume dates went into labor without artificial induction. What's more, the mean latent phase of the first stage of labor was shorter in those who ate dates in the weeks leading up to labor compared with those who didn't eat them. The researchers concluded that consumption of date fruit in the last four weeks of pregnancy significantly reduced the need for induction, but added that a randomized, controlled trial is warranted. [1]

Eating Dates May Also Reduce the Risk of C-Section, Study Finds

Not only does early research support regular date consumption as a way to induce labor naturally, it also suggests that eating dates might reduce the risk of C-section. A study published in the Journal of Midwifery and Reproductive Health found that cervical dilation was generally higher in women who ate dates from the 37th week of pregnancy until the onset of labor pain, compared with those who didn't consume any dates. Cervical ripeness before the onset of labor is considered an important factor for the prediction of delivery mode, particularly in cases of induced labor, with a high level of cervical ripeness decreasing the risk of having to have a C-section. [2]

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