Pregnancy

Could eating dates make you go into labor?

Manny Alvarez

After about 280 days or 40 weeks -- it's common for a pregnant woman to have one thing on her mind -- her due date!

But is there anything a woman can do that might make labor easier?

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We recently got this question from a viewer:

Dear Dr. Manny,

Some pregnant friends of mine swear that eating dates a month before your due date will give you a shorter labor. Is there any truth to this? Or is this just another old wives tale?

Thanks,

Annie

As a practicing OB-GYN, I get this question all the time. And while there is no secret trick that will guarantee a faster delivery, a recent study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology has shown some evidence that eating dates may help.

The study reports pregnant women who ate six dates a day in the last four weeks before their due date were more dilated when they arrived to the hospital. Plus, they labored seven hours less than women who didn't consume any dates. Ninety-six percent of the women who ate the fruit went into spontaneous labor and did not have to be induced. That's compared to 79 percent of non-date eaters.

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Some researchers say the fruit has an oxytocin-like effect on the body, which is why it may lead to increased sensitivity of the uterus and help stimulate contractions just like oxytocin does.

But remember if you have any questions or concerns about your labor you should always speak with your doctor.

Do you have a health question? Send a tweet to @DrMannyonFOX

Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. Click here for more information on Dr. Manny's work with Hackensack University Medical Center. Visit AskDrManny.com for more.