Dates have been studied for their potential to promote and ease late-term labor in pregnant women.
Eating these fruits throughout the last few weeks of pregnancy may promote cervical dilation and lower the need for induced labor. They may also be helpful for reducing labor time (17).
In one study, 69 women who consumed 6 dates per day for 4 weeks prior to their due date were 20% more likely to go into labor naturally and were in labor for significantly less time than those who did not eat them (18).
Another study of 154 pregnant women found that those who ate dates were much less likely to be induced compared to those who did not (19).
A third study found similar results in 91 pregnant women who consumed 70–76 grams of dates daily starting the 37th week of pregnancy. They were in active labor for an average of 4 fewer hours than those who did not eat dates (17).
Although eating dates appears to help promote labor and reduce labor duration, more research is needed to confirm these effects.
The role dates may have in pregnancy is likely due to compounds that bind to oxytocin receptors and appear to mimic the effects of oxytocin in the body. Oxytocin is a hormone that causes labor contractions during childbirth (18, 20).
Additionally, dates contain tannins, which are compounds that have been shown to help facilitate contractions. They are also a good source of natural sugar and calories, which are necessary to maintain energy levels during labor (20)