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How to shorten your labour by eating dates!

So we've been talking about the importance of eating Dates in the last month of pregnancy for several months now at Calm Births. So I thought it about time to actually sit down and take a look at the evidence!

So what's all this about eating dates? You may or not have heard but eating 6 dates per day will:

Lessen your chances of needing induction and make your labour shorter.

Woah there! Stop the press! What?! This is incredible news! So there have been a few good studies on this in the last few years and they all reached the same conclusions.

Calm Births Hypnobirthing Berkshire

It is thought by Alkoran et al (2017) that date fruit 'probably influenced oxytocin receptors, caused more effective contractions, and better prepared the cervix for delivery'. Our ability to respond to Oxytocin (or, the 'hormone of love' as it's known) increases during pregnancy, and we produce more of it. All that lovely Oxytocin then encourages our uterine muscles to surge in order to ripen and open the cervix. So if dates are enhancing that process, then happy days! 

So as well as women being statistically more likely to go into spontaneous labour, they are also, according to these studies, going to be:

More dilated when arriving at a hospital/birth centre, more likely to have a vaginal birth and less likely to have a post-partum haemorrhage. 

Khadem et al (2007) found that 'date fruit has an oxytocin-like effect, leading to the increased sensitivity of the uterus, stimulating uterine contractions and reduces mean post partum haemorrhage'. 

The evidence is there, and reassuringly all studies conclude that Dates are beneficial for women during late pregnancy, as they reduce the need for intervention and there are no adverse effects on Mother or child. 

So - 6 dates a day from 36 weeks ladies! Ok, so admittedly dates aren't the most visually appealing fruit, and I know a lot of you are thinking yes but.. euughhh!!

 

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So here are a few ideas for you on how to jazz them up a bit to eat them!

1. You can chop them up on cereal for a quick dose in the morning

 2. Some of these smoothies sound delish

3. Sticky toffee date cake? Yes please! 

4. A date and walnut cake, yum.

5. This super healthy Mongolian Beef recipe. 

I'd love to know how you get on with the date eating, has it worked for you? Have you any great recipes for Dates? I'd love to read your comments! x 

 

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How bad IS induction of labour?...

So one question which always lingers in people's minds is how to use HypnoBirthing techniques if they are induced - won't it all go out of the window? Well, the answer is no, it won't. I want to reassure you that the process of induction isn't an evil thing to be dreaded, and you have everything you need to make it a positive experience with HypnoBirthing. You can read about two positive births following Induction here - just look for the stories of baby Flora and also Tabitha.

So induction can be suggested to you for various reasons, sometimes because you are considered to be 'post dates', sometimes due to clinical indications that you or baby would be safer if baby was born sooner than later. This is not a post to merit the pro's and con's of why induction is called for (that's a whole post on it's own!)- but about the process itself. The below outline is on the assumption that you and baby are in no clinical compromise, and it's important to remember that each woman is individual and will therefore be treated accordingly. This is really a guideline for how it works if you are induced for being 'overdue' or there is no clinical urgency to birth your baby. It's really important to know that Midwives are aiming to do everything they can to help your body take over and go into labour with a nudge, they will be encouraging you to do everything possible to help along the way.

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Once you are in your due time (and remember, there is a FIVE week window in which you are considered 'term' - from 37 to 42 weeks) your Midwife might offer you the option of having a Stretch & Sweep (awful name, I know) sometimes referred to as a 'Membrane Sweep'. This is a vaginal examination where the Midwife will locate your cervix and attempt to rotate her finger into the OS - this is hoped to trigger the cervix into releasing prostaglandins, which will encourage your body into labour. This process can be uncomfortable as the cervix can be quite far back, it can cause some uterine tightenings afterwards too. Studies have shown that it can help avoid any further means of induction, and that there is no increased risk of infection to the woman. Personally, I would weigh up how you feel about vaginal examinations - if they feel you with horror and anxiety then it might just be counter productive for you. If you don't really mind and are actually really keen (by 41 weeks for example) to go into labour, then discuss it with your Midwife. This is only offered as an option, it's not something you have to have. Don't forget to eat your dates at this point too - read about that here.

Different NHS trusts have different policies on induction, and so I won't go into specifics of what happens but try to paint a general picture. If it is agreed that induction is the best course of action for you, and you both understand why it is needed and are happy about it, then the ball will start rolling with your admittance to a labour ward. The first thing to happen will be an insertion of a pessary into the vagina which contains prostaglandins, which will help to ripen the cervix. This is a bit like a tampon usually, and is left inside the vagina for 24 hours - you will usually need to stay in the hospital, and the Midwives will encourage you to go for a walk, and to stay active to let gravity help you. This method is often all that is needed to give your body a kick start into going into labour, and then your body takes over and does what it's supposed to do to birth your baby.

If, after 24 hours, surges haven't started or become regular, then you will be examined again to see what is happening. Trusts vary on this, but some will give you a further 12 hours to let nature take over and others will want to intervene straight away. The next stage is usually for the Midwives to attempt to break the membrane seal, or 'break your waters'. This is another vaginal examination but is painless, it's really just popping a balloon with a plastic hook - it doesn't touch your skin or hurt you, it's usually quite a feeling of relief as the fluid releases.

Calm Births Hypnobirthing Berkshire

This is then enough for some people's bodies to take over and go into labour, and varying amounts of time are then allowed for a woman's body to do it's thing. If, after the allotted time, labour still hasn't begun then the Syntocinon drip will be introduced. This is begun on a teensy amount, and gradually and slowly increased if it's needed to in order to encourage your uterus to begin tightening. Now, it is begun slowly, but as your body is being 'put' into labour at that point, you don't have quite the same amount of endorphin build up as if you had begun to labour naturally, and so pain relief is usually offered to you. If you need it, use it - there are no points awarded to someone for needing pain relief and refusing it!! This is the time when you need to remember all of your HypoBirthing techniques to help you to build your own endorphins, plug yourself in to your Relaxation audio, use your visualisations and light touch massage - birth partners need to pull it all out of the bag at this point!  

The key is to remain open minded and positive, just go with the flow at each stage, and embrace each stage as one nearer meeting your baby. Focus on the end goal of holding your baby in your arms, and their gaze meeting yours for the first time. You have all the breathing techniques and relaxation techniques that you need to make this a wonderful, positive birth so enjoy it!! xx 

 

 

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