I was so happy to receive the recommendation of a daily dose of 7 dates by my midwife in the last trimester of my pregnancy. They are one of my favourite things to snack on that satisfies my sweet tooth in a guilt-free way.
On researching further, I am excited to note their positive effects on pregnant women. Studies show that dates have a positive effect on labour; decreasing the need for pitocin augmentation, increasing early dilation and ripening of the cervix, as well as reducing blood loss after birth. In addition to being a delicious natural sweet treat, there are many benefits to adding dates to your postpartum recovery menu as well!
Dates fulfill the need for focusing on the ‘sweet’ taste postpartum. According to Ayurveda, this is the first taste to focus on after birth. I didn’t need anymore encouragement to prepare for my sacred window with all the ingredients to create yummy puddings, nourishing shakes and tonics, which included an 11 lb. box of fresh Medjool dates.
Dates have a good amount of concentrated energy without affecting blood sugar as much as straight sugar. This is very important for a breastfeeding mom who need the calories.
Featured vitamins and minerals include good levels of potassium, magnesium and manganese, as well as B6. Both potassium and magnesium help calm and promote sleep. Sleep is vital for a new mom, of course; but not always easy to get, even when baby is asleep. This is due to a heightened, alert nervous system that still has to learn that it is safe to deregulate. So the more help we can get with the resting piece, the better! B6 is a mood booster and helps with hemoglobin production in the blood. This is another vital addition early postpartum when blood loss is high. Manganese is one of those foundational nutrients that helps the assimilation of other vitamins and minerals, as well as the proper digestion of protein. So when our diet is deficient, nutrients can just be passing through without being absorbed.
Don’t take it from me, dates are frequently mentioned in the Quran as one of the sacred fruits. A quote attributed to the prophet Muhammed states, “He who eats 7 ajwa dates every morning will not be affected by poison or magic on the day he eats them.”
… and there’s that number again!
How best to use and prepare
I always recommend sourcing the fresh plump Medjool dates if possible. Not only are they so delicious and soft, but much easier to digest than semi-dried, more fibrous dates. During those first few weeks it is best to avoid too much fibre as this taxes the fragile post-birth digestive system. Of course, you can always soak them before using if fresh aren’t so readily available.
As for how to eat them, they are delicious as is, but even better would be in a warming beverage such as a delicious date shake. Teamed with some oil or ghee, this way of consuming dates is helpful to keep blood sugar balanced and provide a longer lasting, energising fuel. Also this will be much easier to digest thanks to the added warmth.
Dates are also a great option in the mothers rice pudding recommended as the dish for the new mom to enjoy the first couple of days postpartum. Yes pudding, as much as you want, all day! I also love them in my oatmeal chopped up whilst cooking, again teamed with a nice glug of oil or ghee.
I also always add a date or two to any nut or seeds milks I make after straining, along with a touch of vanilla. Warmed nut milk tonics are very nourishing postpartum, and you can even leave them unstrained for a more filling and rich beverage.
If you’ve been to northern Africa you will know that dates can also be added to savoury dishes. A well spiced vegetable tagine with dates would be a great option after the first week or so. Recovering mothers enjoy this dish in Morocco, which has a strong, alive postpartum care tradition.
So if you’re pregnant and planning for your sacred window, grabbing a box of dates and starting to supplement with them right now is a great idea and one that I’m sure you’ll enjoy!
Energizing Date and Almond Shake
from Touching Heaven: Tonic Postpartum Recipes by Ysha Oakes
10 medium dates, pitted and soaked if dried
1 tsp fennel seeds
25 soaked whole almonds
2-3 cups warm water plus a cup of hot water for blanching
2 pinches cardamom
2 pinches saffron (optional)
- Soak the dates and almonds with fennel seeds overnight in separate bowls
- In the morning drain and peel the almonds by blanching in hot water and peeling off the skins
- Blend with the warm water with other ingredients until smooth
Samantha Veitch is a plant-based Maiden to Mother Mentor and newly certified Ayurdoula, as well as a mother to an 8 month year old baby boy. She helps eco-conscious women through pregnancy and early motherhood realign their food lifestyles to obtain maximum vitality whilst making choices that are sustainable for the planet.
Stay connected to Samantha through Instagram @eatinginalignment for recipes, food inspiration and to follow her own natural mama life journey.
- 8 Proven Health Benefits of Dates
- Effect of Dates in Late Pregnancy on the Duration of Labor in Nulliparous Women
- Natural Labor Induction Series: Eating Dates