Scientists from the University of Malaya found that eating dates in late pregnancy could help induce labor safely and naturally.
Labor induction is the process or treatment that stimulates childbirth and delivery. Inducing (starting) labor can be accomplished with various methods.
In Western countries, about one-quarter of pregnant women have their labor medically induced with drug treatment.
Prostaglandin and Oxytocin are well established as standard practices for labor induction.
But these methods have side effects. Inducing labor can intervene in the body’s natural processes by breaking the amniotic sac, using a medication, or both.
It can also lead to fetal distress (such as abnormal heart rate). In addition, when labor is induced using a medication, labor may take longer, increase the risk of interventions, increase the risk of C-Section, and increase the need for intensive care.
Other safer alternatives have been tried including eating dates during late pregnancy.
Previous research on more than 200 pregnant women in 2013 showed that eating dates can help with the softening of the cervix or cervical ripening for labor.
Another study found that pregnant women who ate 6 dates a day for 4 weeks before their due date had a shorter first stage of labor and their cervix was softer before delivery.
This is because dates influence estrogen and progesterone hormones, which are effective in preparing the uterus and cervical ripening.
In the study, the team examined how eating dates during late pregnancy affect the start of labor and the need for induction.
They tested 154 women who were assigned to either a date-eating group or a control group.
The team found the women in the dates-consumer group had much less need for augmentation of labor and longer intervention to the delivery interval.
There was no big difference in the onset of spontaneous labor.
The researchers also showed that eating dates could reduce the need for labor augmentation but do not expedite the onset of labor.
They say that eating dates during late pregnancy has been shown to benefit labor and delivery.
This study suggests that eating dates could reduce the need for labor induction with oxytocin but did not make labor come quicker.
Therefore, eating dates in late pregnancy is a safe supplement to be considered because it reduced the need for labor intervention without any adverse effect on the mother and child.
Although there is no scientific evidence showing any negative side effects of eating dates during pregnancy, women with gestational diabetes need to be cautious.
It is best to consult with your doctor or midwife before eating dates if your blood sugar is high in pregnancy because dates are high in sugar.
In addition, some women may have an allergy to dates and should avoid them.
The research is published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and was conducted by Nuguelis Razali et al.
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