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- Dates and Pregnancy
- Nutritional Value of Dates
- Benefits of Eating Dates During Pregnancy
- Eating Dates During Different Stages of Gestation
- Different Ways of Consuming Dates During Pregnancy
- Which Variety of Dates to Eat
- Are There Any Harmful Effects of Eating Dates During Pregnancy?
- Precautions to Take
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It is said that eating dates during the ninth month of your pregnancy can ease labour. Is this true? How do dates help with labour? Let us look into the relationship between pregnancy and dates.
Dates and Pregnancy
Dates are not only safe for both the mother and baby, but are also beneficial. Dates contain fructose that breaks down quickly and offers instant energy without altering one’s blood sugar levels. Eating dates during pregnancy is good as they contain laxatives which aid in uterus contractions and ease labour by shortening it.
Research has shown that the consumption of dates during late pregnancy shortens labour and affects delivery positively.
Nutritional Value of Dates
Here is a table that shows the nutritional content in 100g of dates:
|Vitamin K||2.7 mcg|
Dates are highly recommended for pregnant women as they can reduce the risk of anaemia, help cope with morning sickness, regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels, get rid of toxins, boost immunity, and maintain healthy calcium content in the body. Dates are loaded with different nutrients that can help pregnant women immensely. Here are some of them:
Iron: Everyone knows that pregnant women require more iron than others – dates are enriched with iron and can help keep anaemia at bay by ensuring that your blood has a healthy haemoglobin count. Iron helps the various metabolic processes in your body and boosts both your and your baby’s immune system.
- Folate: Folic acid is one of the most important nutrients that you will need to consume during pregnancy. It prevents brain and spinal cord birth defects in babies.
- Vitamin K: Vitamin K helps in the clotting of blood. It also helps in the development of your baby’s bone structure, and dates are among the best sources of this vitamin. A deficiency in vitamin K can be harmful to your baby’s health. By eating dates, you can compensate for this deficiency if you’re facing it.
- Fibre: Constipation is common during pregnancy – you can prevent it by eating dates. Dates offer high fibre content, so you can digest them easily. Dates also reduce the level of bad cholesterol in the body. Eating dates will make your tummy feel full, and this, in turn, will help maintain healthy body weight – something which is crucial during pregnancy.
- Potassium: Potassium aids in maintaining the salt balance and blood pressure in the body. Muscle cramps are common during pregnancy – you can prevent them by ensuring that your body has sufficient levels of potassium. Deficiency of this nutrient can lead to kidney problems.
- Fructose: As mentioned above, dates contain fructose which ensures that your energy levels are always high. It is important to be high on energy during pregnancy for your body to be able to cope with the changes you face. Eating dates offers instant energy.
- Sugar: You will need more calories at this stage, so eat a couple of dates whenever you are hungry as this fruit is a source of good sugar and offers you much-needed calories without drastically affecting your weight.
- Magnesium: Your baby needs magnesium for bone and teeth formation. It helps in regulating your blood sugar and blood pressure levels as well.
Benefits of Eating Dates During Pregnancy
Here are some of the advantages of eating dates when pregnant:
- Dates contain proteins which help build amino acids that are required for bodily growth.
- Research proves that more than 83% of the women who ate dates had their membranes intact when admitted to the hospital, and less than 28% of these women were given synthetic oxytocin or prostin during labour. On the other hand, 60% of non-date eating pregnant women had their membranes intact, and about 43% of them needed prostin.
- Dates help boost the oxytocin affect – the contraction of the womb – which, in turn, enhances uterus sensitivity.
- Calcium, serotonin, and tannin present in dates help in the proper contraction of the uterine muscles.
- Dates contain both saturated and unsaturated fatty acids that supply energy. They also help in producing prostaglandins. Both the oxytocin effect and prostaglandins are essential for labour.
- Dates ease and shorten labour as it contains laxatives that aid contractions.
Eating Dates During Different Stages of Gestation
This is a common question that pregnant women ask. Read on to discover when to start eating dates during pregnancy:
Eating Dates in the First Trimester
Eating dates is important in the first trimester as constipation is a big issue during this time. Eat dates to ensure a healthy bowel movement and no internal discomfort. However, make sure to limit the quantity of the dates you eat during the first trimester if you have blood sugar issues or group B strep infection (an infection found in the rectum or vagina of a pregnant woman).
Eating Dates in the Second Trimester
Avoid eating dates during the second trimester if your blood sugar levels are high or your glucose test is not normal as the chances of having gestational diabetes will be quite high during this time. However, you can always talk to your gynaecologists and then take a call, as eating a few of them will not do any harm.
Eating Dates in the Third Trimester
Make sure you eat dates during the third trimester as this will help in shortening labour and making the entire delivery process easy, owing to its natural laxative properties which aid contractions. Start eating six dates in a day from the starting of the 36th week i.e. four weeks from the expected date of delivery.
Eating Dates in the Summers
Many women prefer to avoid eating dates during summers as they think it will upset their stomachs. However, this has not been scientifically proven.
During pregnancy, a woman’s body produces heat owing to the different physical and hormonal changes – eating too many dates will only increase it. Limit the intake of dates during the last stages of pregnancy to avoid any complications.
Eating Dates in the Winters
Regardless of the weather, it is important not to overeat dates. You can increase your date intake during winters as the heat produced will help beat the cold will also provide you with the required nutrients.
As a rule of thumb, you will need 300 calories extra every day for the proper development of the foetus. Thus, choose healthy options for the consumption of all these calories – options that are loaded with nutrients – and avoid foods that are low in nutrition and high in sugar. Folate, iron, calcium, and potassium are among the most important nutrients that your body needs during pregnancy, and dates offer you all these nutrients.
Different Ways of Consuming Dates During Pregnancy
There are many ways to consume dates during pregnancy. The first way is, of course, eating them raw. Here are some more ideas on how you can eat dates:
- Make a Smoothie: Mix six dates with a cup of yoghurt and mix them in a blender to make a smoothie.
- Syrup: Make date syrup at home by blending a few dates with milk. Drizzle the mixture over ice cream, toast, waffles or oatmeal.
- Dessert: To make a simple date dessert, you can just add a few to some steamed semolina and top it off with some honey.
- Pie Crust: Mix dates and nuts in the grinder and make a smooth puree. Mix that with the pie dough for a healthy and tasty crust.
- Sweetener: Replace sugar with dates in milk and other drinks. Consumption of fructose is a better option than sucrose.
- Cookies and Muffins: You can add dates to your cookie or muffin batter and enhance the taste.
- Wraps: You can also include dates in chicken and tuna wraps and rolls for a subtle, sweet taste.
Which Variety of Dates to Eat
There are many varieties of dates available. While some are soft and have high moisture content, others are dry and chewy. Regardless of the type, you can use these to make numerous snacks and recipes. Let’s look at the varieties of dates that you can eat during pregnancy:
- Chinese Red Dates
These are high in iron and can help prevent anaemia. They are even known to improve the quality of the mother’s milk and prevent haemorrhage post-delivery.
- Medjool Dates
This variety of dates has all the nutrients a pregnant woman needs. They happen to be an excellent source of carbohydrates and have low-fat content. Enriched with fibre and proteins, this is one of the best varieties of dates you can have while pregnant. Medjool dates are high in vitamin content as well—folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin, thiamine, and other vitamins like A, C, and K. The high iron content in these dates helps reduce bad cholesterol and keeps your heart healthy. Antioxidants eliminate free radicals and prevent cancer too.
Are There Any Harmful Effects of Eating Dates During Pregnancy?
As such, no study claims that dates are unsafe for pregnant women. In fact, eating dates in moderation during the first and third trimesters is excellent for your health as well as your baby’s health. However, if you overeat, you may experience the following:
- Weight gain
- Chance of gestational diabetes
- Increase in blood sugar levels
- Tooth decay if you do not mention maintain proper oral hygiene
Precautions to Take
You need to be careful about the number of dates you are eating. Overeating can lead to weight gain and other health issues.
Dates are loaded with nutrients, and eating them is easy. Dates have been the go-to food for women in labour since time immemorial, and doctors also recommend that pregnant women include dates in their daily diet. If you are a mother-to-be and you are planning to include dates in your diet, consult your doctor first. Look for brands that offer organic dates as these are free of chemicals or preservatives. It is best to consume fresh dates. Eat them in moderation and you will be fine!