This business of having babies is bookended by two very different time warps. If you’re planning a baby, you start off with the excruciating two week wait from when you might have ovulated until it’s time for you to pee on a stick. Time seems to stand still, particularly when you have that groundhog day experience of doing it again, and again, and maybe again. I know I found it very difficult to focus on other aspects of my life once months turned slowly into a year and then two years…
The second time warp began as I approached my due date, when time fluctuated between snail’s pace and break neck speed. Even though I knew I was unlikely to go on my estimated due date a little piece of me believed I’d be in that small percentage of women who give birth exactly at forty weeks. But once that milestone passed, the days felt both painfully long as phonecall after text message reminded me “I was still here”, but also a little too quick as I hurtled towards 40 weeks +14 days, the time allotted by the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin to spontaneously go into labour before they induce it. 14 days is actually the most generous policy in Ireland with other hospitals offering 12 or 10 days depending on where you are.
As day 14 appeared on the horizon, I turned to every trick in the book to encourage spontaneous labour. Every trick except sex, that is. I understand that it is extremely effective in ripening the cervix but I just couldn’t face into it, sorry! Daily perineal massage doesn’t awaken the sexy in me. Our home smelt like a Balti house though. Luckily, labour kicked off by itself a 40 weeks +9 days, thus saving me from the deadline and affording me with the natural birth I had hoped for.
So it was with great interest that I read this article about the effect of eating date fruit on labour and delivery outcomes. The research concluded that consuming six dates a day in the last four weeks before labour “significantly reduced the need for induction and augmentation of labour, and produced a more favourable, but non-significant, delivery outcome.” So all brilliant things then really! It does end by saying that a controlled randomised trial is the next step but those initial results are very promising. Given my tardiness the last time, this is something I will definitely be trying in the future. I have two friends who are right at this stage of their second pregnancy. Both were overdue with their first babies and are keen to have a natural, spontaneous labour. They’re both eating the dates at the moment and I’m really hopeful it will do the deed for them. I’ll keep you posted on developments for your own information of course!
Any ladies out there who have tried this already? I’d love to hear about your experience.