Eating is important during early labor to keep up your strength and provide you with energy for your work. Many women find that they naturally no longer wish to eat once in active (serious) labor. Eat small portions of easily digested foods that you know that you like and that sound good to you at the time. Choose foods that are light and stomach-friendly. Complex carbohydrates are better choices than fatty or fried foods.
Some ideas are:
- graham crackers
- honey sticks (plastic tube with about a TB of honey in it–good quick energy boost, especially in a birth setting with restrictions on food or drink intake. See my previous post for a discussion of the validity of withholding food and drink from laboring women).
- herbal tea
- white grape juice
- apple juice
- miso soup
- fruit juice or honey-sweetened tea frozen into ice cubes
- cooked cereals
- scrambled or boiled egg
It is also very important to stay hydrated during your labor! Try to take a sip of something every 15-30 minutes and at least once an hour. Have one of your labor support helpers follow you around with a drink with a straw in it and hold it to your lips every so often. If you feel like sucking, you will, if you don’t, you won’t. There is no need to have a big conversation about it every time. Some women like to drink apple juice during labor, other feel it is too acidic. Orange juice is not usually recommended as it might make you feel sick or vomit. Some women choose to drink a sports drink (like Gatorade). Water is always a good choice! Other women choose hard candy to suck on during labor. Be careful choosing a flavor, because you may taste it again later and it may bother you. Avoid carbonated drinks.
What about dad?
Make sure you have snacks packed for you as well! Avoid anything that will linger unpleasantly on your breath (garlicky pasta is out!) Dads may like to have some easy to grab, quickly nutritious snacks like trail mix, granola bars, peanut butter, nuts, fruit, or an already prepared sandwich.
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I was fully prepared to eat throughout my labor at home, and I did…but it all came back up. Sigh. The best-laid plans and all that! Once the baby was out (42 hours later), I was ravenous and was happy to find that the food stayed down again finally!
I love those honey sticks, but I didn’t even think of them. I tried fruit, crackers, and Emergen-C frozen into ice cubes. I also had a big sandwich just beforehand!
“During labor, Orange juice is not usually recommended as it might make you feel sick or vomit. Some women choose to drink a sports drink (like Gatorade). Water is always a good choice!”
Is good to know.
I’m planning on drinking coconut water during labor. I’ve loved drinking it throughout my pregnancy and it’s nature’s Gatorade. It’s very hydrating and electrolyte packed.
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I heard one midwife simply say “Avoid protein. Try carbs and readily digestible foods. Your laboring body is not giving up any extra resources for digesting food. So what ever you give your body to use as fuel should be easy to digest on limited resources.”
I thought it was a great suggestion. And I think your list is great!
Great suggestion and easy to remember too!
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This is a great list! I am planning on eating small snacks during labor because when I am very hungry and my blood sugar is low, I get extremely weak and cannot imagine pushing in that condition.
When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is
added I get four emails with the same comment.
Is there any way you can remove me from that service? Cheers!
I’m not sure if I can remove you myself–you should be able to do it from the “subscriptions” tab on your WordPress account (go to where it says “comments” there and the uncheck the box that says to notify you of replies). I’ll also look into on my end and see if there is way to unsubscribe you, but I think it is something you have to do yourself. Sorry! (I wonder why it comes four times?! That would be so annoying!)
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An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a coworker who had been doing a little research on this. And he in fact ordered me breakfast because I stumbled upon it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending the time to talk about this subject here on your web page.