Want to know the top food to eat in your third trimester? You’re in the right place!
One of my best friends is pregnant and our due dates are just one day apart. It has been so fun to be pregnant at the same time as her, even though she lives far, far away in London. We were talking on the phone a few weeks ago and she asked me if I knew anything about the benefits of eating dates during pregnancy.
And honestly, I didn’t know a thing about it! Have you ever heard of this? Since I was driving, I made her read me results from the studies she found online. I was skeptical at first. You hear so many things about what is good and bad in pregnancy that I’m at a point that I question everything.
The research on dates during pregnancy is actually really interesting and compelling! The only drawback is that there is not a TON of evidence. But the evidence that does exist is enough to make me eat dates every day these last few weeks before the baby comes.
What are the benefits of dates during pregnancy?
- Higher rates of spontaneous labor (vs. being induced)
- Higher cervical dilation upon admission to the hospital
- Shorter initial phase of labor (mean of 510 minutes vs. 906 minutes)
(For you research buffs, all of these findings were statistically significant with p<.05.)
When to start eating dates during pregnancy & how many dates to eat
I was frustrated with the articles because they did not make it easy to figure out the details. I’m thinking okay, I should eat dates, but what kind? Does it matter? How many? How often? When should I start? Based on the searching I did, here is what I found out:
- Eat dates daily, beginning at 36 weeks pregnant
- The type of date (i.e. medjool, deglet noor, fresh vs. dried, etc.) does not seem to matter
- Eat 4-6 dates a day depending on the size – this should be about 60-70 grams worth. I recommend weighing your dates if you have a food scale so you can figure out how much you should have.
What are the risks or downsides?
I really could not find any reason why you should not eat dates during pregnancy, as long as you don’t have diabetes (since they are high in sugar).
So far, in my experience, the hardest part is just finding different ways to eat them. I like dates, but eating several every single day gets a little challenging. Sometimes they taste too sweet, sometimes I just rather eat something else. But if they really do contribute to quicker and easier labor, it’s totally worth it to fight through and eat them. Because honestly, I can think of MUCH WORSE foods to force myself to eat every day!
Why do dates contribute to better labor outcomes?
Researchers believe that eating dates contributes to the process of cervical ripening. Cervical ripening is a collective term for dilatation, effacement, position, and consistency, and fetal station in vaginal examination. If you’ve never been pregnant, these words might mean nothing to you! I know that before I had kids I would have been like, “huh?”
Basically, dates appear to help the body’s natural process of preparing the uterus and cervix to be ready for labor and delivery.
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How to Eat Dates During Pregnancy Without Getting Bored
Since dates are so sweet and have a neutral taste, they are so versatile. You can always eat them plain by themselves, but that really does get boring pretty quickly. My favorite quick ways to eat them are:
- Stuffed with salted cashews
- Stuffed with any type of nut butter
- On top of a Nut Thins cracker
- Blended into any smoothie
And, there are SO MANY healthy and delicious recipes that use dates to help you get to that 60-70 grams per day at the end of your pregnancy. I asked my blogger friends to share their favorite date recipes with you. I have compiled an awesome list with their favorites that will give you ideas for anytime of day, for any type of craving you might have!
- Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins (from C It Nutritionally)
- Vegan Carrot Cake Quinoa Bars (from Byte Sized Nutrition)
- Date Coffee Cake Yogurt Muffins with Cinnamon Streusel (from The Gourmet RD)
Even more ideas for dates during pregnancy:
- Yogurt Parfait on a Plate (from Mom’s Kitchen Handbook)
- Three Ingredient Date Sweetened Granola (from Healthy Helper)
- Crunchy, Golden Coconut Cashew Granola (from Nutri Savvy Health)
- Cacao Date Smoothie (from The Spicy RD)
- Pumpkin Spice Almond Milk (from Crunchy Kat)
- Healthy No Sugar Added Blueberry Muffins (from A Joyfully Mad Kitchen) – these look great for toddlers!
Savory Snacks to eat in your third trimester
- Prosciutto Wrapped Dates with Manchego Filling & Wine Glaze (from Abbey’s Kitchen) – if pregnant, make sure the prosciutto is thoroughly heated before eating
- Seared Halloumi and Pomegranate Salad (from We Are Not Martha)
- Moroccan Kamut and Chickpea Salad (from Andrea Docherty Nutrition)
Even more ideas for dates during pregnancy:
- Celery Salad with Hazelnuts, Dates, and Pecorino (from Mom’s Kitchen Handbook)
- Bacon Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Goat Cheese (from Art From My Table)
- Bourbon Orange Chicken Wings (from Wellness by Kristen)
Dessert to eat in your third trimester
- Mini Nice Cream Snickers Bars (from Byte Sized Nutrition)
- Healthy Pumpkin Pie (from Skinny Fitalicious)
Even more ideas to eat in your third trimester:
- Black Bean Brownie Bites (from Eat Real Live Well)
- Pumpkin Spice Twix (from Love Me, Feed Me)
- Healthy Pie Crust (from Snacking in Sneakers)
- Luscious Date Avocado Chocolate Truffles (from The Delicious Crescent)
- No Bake Turtle Walnut Brownies (from Simple and Savory)
Energy Bites, Balls, and Bars
- Medjool Date Apple Oat Bars (from Fit Mitten Kitchen)
Even more ideas:
- No Bake Chocolate Covered Almond Date Protein Bars (from Macrobalanced)
- Puffed Rice & Seed Bars (from Nourished by Nutrition)
- Chocolate Cherry Energy Bites (from Snacking in Sneakers)
- Chocolate Coconut Copycat Bars (from Mom’s Kitchen Handbook)
- Easy Chocolate Almond Truffles (from Marisa Moore Nutrition)
- Nutty Date Squares (from Greens & Grains Nutrition)
- No Bake Cashew Snack Bites (from Nutritious Vida)
- Coconut Matcha Bites (from Crunchy Kat)
Have you started stocking up on healthy meals for when baby gets here?
This post has my top favorite healthy meals and snacks to make ahead and freeze, so you’re ready with food already made when baby gets here!
You may also love Simply Satisfying Meals – a recipe ebook with meals that can all be made in the instant pot, crockpot, or in one pan. Talk about EASY, especially when you need it most, aka with a baby in your arms! These are meals that taste like you put in a lot of effort, but I lovingly call them “Lazy meals” because they are just so dang easy to put together. Even when you are totally sleep deprived. Check it out here!
E Bennett · June 15, 2021 at 2:31 am
Hello, thank you for sharing this information and recipie ideas, I just wondered if your 60-70g of dates were pitted? My bag is unpitted and I’d be eating about 13 a day to reach that weight which seems a lot higher, but maybe they are just small?
Madison | A Joyfully Mad Kitchen · September 26, 2017 at 4:03 pm
Thank you so much for including my muffins recipes! I had no idea that they had so many benefits during pregnancy. I’ll be making sure to eat lots of them in a few weeks when I’m in my 3rd trimester!
Chrissy Carroll · September 24, 2017 at 3:53 pm
So many tasty date recipes!! I may not be pregnant but definitely still going to work my way through this list 🙂
wearenotmartha · September 23, 2017 at 10:05 pm
I had no idea dates were so important in pregnancy! This is such a fabulously informative post- thank you! And thank you for including my salad 🙂
Byte Sized Nutrition · September 20, 2017 at 2:51 pm
This is the first that I’ve heard about the research surrounding the benefits of dates during pregnancy, but I find it so fascinating! Thanks for sharing and for providing so many wonderful date-filled recipes (and special thanks for including my Carrot Cake Quinoa Bars and Nice Cream Snickers Bars) 🙂 Hope all of the dates you’ve been eating leads to a healthy, quick delivery!
Mama Knows Nutrition · September 20, 2017 at 3:27 pm
Isn’t it so interesting?? I kept trying to find holes in the research since it seemed too good to be true haha. But the evidence they have so far is pretty convincing! And I’m seriously trying your snickers bars asap, they are right up my alley!
Christine Wansor · September 20, 2017 at 12:52 pm
Really interesting. Also makes me wonder if dates are contraindicated for women w a history of preterm labor.
Mama Knows Nutrition · September 20, 2017 at 2:27 pm
I didn’t see anything about it in the research but you may be right! Thanks for reading, Chris!
Kaila @ Healthy Helper Blog · September 20, 2017 at 12:51 pm
Thank you for including my granola!!
Mama Knows Nutrition · September 20, 2017 at 2:24 pm
Of course! The recipe looks great!
dochertyrd · September 20, 2017 at 10:55 am
This is an amazing roundup! I love dates so much and all of these ways are very creative. Thank you for including my recipe 🙂
Mama Knows Nutrition · September 20, 2017 at 10:58 am
Thanks Andrea! I didn’t even realize how many different ways you can use dates until I made this post!
annelawton · September 20, 2017 at 9:38 am
Thanks for sharing my recipe! I use dates in a lot of my recipes to replace sugar, interesting to know they can help during delivery!
Mama Knows Nutrition · September 20, 2017 at 9:39 am
So glad to have you contribute!
Kelly Jones · September 20, 2017 at 7:25 am
This is SUCH a fun roundup and I had no idea about the date research on delivery. Awesome! Thanks for including my brownie bites. I can’t wait to try a bunch of these, they look amazing and dates are one of my favorite things. Best luck to you for a speedy and healthy delivery 🙂
Mama Knows Nutrition · September 20, 2017 at 7:38 am
Everyone I talk to hasn’t heard of it! I think it just hasn’t been widely studied yet, especially in the US. Thanks for contributing your recipe! 🙂
dochertyrd · September 20, 2017 at 10:57 am
Those brownie bites look so good! Never would have thought to make a frosting with hemp seeds 🙂
EatRealLiveWell · September 20, 2017 at 11:08 am
Thanks! I add hemp seeds to so mang things and figures it could be an interesting nutritional upgrade for frosting 🙂 Has only worked for me if chocolate though!