Whether you will be heading into hospital or giving birth at home- it's time to think about snacks.
If you are at the stage of pregnancy where you are packing a hospital bag, or gathering the things you will need for the big event, then it is time to start considering what you might like to eat and drink during labour. Giving birth, whichever way it ends up happening, is tiring, physically and emotionally (it is also amazing, and you get to meet your newborn baby, but it is definitely tiring) so we are going to help you come up with the ultimate snack selection to keep your physical and mental energy up.
Labour is often described as something to 'get through' but the path to meeting your baby can be enjoyable and memorable for all the right reasons too.
Even if you aren't hungry throughout labour, there is a good chance you will be afterwards- a new baby is a notorious energy zapper. So let's stock the cupboards or your hospital bag with some tasty and satisfying food and drink sure to keep you going all the way through your labour, no matter what it may bring.
Can I Definitely Eat During Labour?
If you are having a planned cesarean, you will most likely be asked not to eat for a few hours beforehand, mainly because it can cause nausea, and being sick can cause other complications. Speak to your midwife about all eventualities beforehand, forewarned is forearmed especially when it comes to labour. If you have eaten and then need to get an emergency C-Section, try not to fret, and remember that the people caring for you have been trained for every possible outcome and you are in safe hands.
During active labour, if you feel up to it, then keeping your energy up with efficient snacking - little and often - will be key to helping you feel on top form.
What Sort of Snacks Should I Pack?
A good mindset to have when thinking about eating and drinking during labour is that of a marathon runner. Yes, giving birth is literally comparable to running an entire marathon, labour is a feat of endurance, and for that you need sustenance. Based on your appetite during pregnancy, there might be certain foods you would like to avoid, so no matter what their energy-boosting properties are, keep them far away from your hospital bag. Also, if you are packing some snacks for a partner, make sure they don't have anything that will turn your stomach either. Foods that will provide a quick energy release are great, healthy fats and lots of protein to keep your appetite satisfied too, natural style energy bars are perfect. Ultimately, this is your birth and your body so if there is something you have been loving eating lately, pop it in the bag.
Is There Anything I Can Eat For An Easier Labour and Delivery?
For as long as people have been having babies, we have been trying to find ways to make it, quite frankly, hurt less. Hypnobirthing is a booming industry, and for good reason, but is there anything you can simply eat or drink that might help? As always, check with your midwife beforehand, but there are a few things that could help your baby have a slightly easier journey.
Red raspberry leaf tea
This herbal tea has been used since the middle ages to aide childbirth by softening the cervix, you can have it hot or make up a batch for the fridge, I actually drank a lot of this and I believe it worked- but it could have been being super hydrated that helped too, at least it's got a bit of flavour!
This delicious dried fruit is also believed to have cervix-softening powers, if you can get the Medjool variety they taste just like caramel, delicious.
Pineapple and papaya
Both of these fruits contain the enzyme bromelain, which is believed to soften the cervix and even trigger contractions. Just one serving of pineapple is full of vitamin C, folate, and iron among other nutrients making it an excellent pregnancy snack too.
When it comes to your hospital bag snacks, we recommend using an extra bag just for your food and drink- even better if it has a cooling compartment. If you are feeling organised and aren't caught by surprise, you can pack the store cupboard items head of time, and then just pop anything from the fridge or freezer in on your way out of the door.
Here are our top picks:
2. Grapes (even better if you freeze them first).
3. Fresh chopped fruit (mango, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple).
5. Chocolate and/or yogurt covered raisins.
7. Dried fruit like mango, banana or cranberries.
10. Nut butter (sometimes available in handy sachets to pop straight onto an oatcake).
11. Carrot sticks.
17. Nakd bars.
18. Cereal bars.
19. Bliss balls.
20. Malt Loaf.
21. Dry cereal.
25. Chewing gum/bubble gum.
27. Picnic style foods- sandwiches, scotch eggs, things to nibble on.
28. Tupperware of a quick mixed salad- leaves, veggies, chickpeas, seeds and a yummy dressing - fish or chicken too if you fancy it.
29. Ice lollies (if you will have somewhere to store them).
Bringing a baby into the world is thirsty work, not to mention if you decide to use gas and air- it can make your mouth feel super dry. Also - and this must be emphasised - pack straws. It is so much easier to drink water when someone can just hold it out for you, if you take a bottle with a large-cap, keep the cap off, pop the straw in, and make sure whoever is available to do so is keeping it topped up at all times.
Keeping your fluids up and staying hydrated is essential during active labour. There is some research to suggest that there are benefits to using isotonic drinks for labour, these are drinks that quickly replace lost fluids, like Lucozade. Nature's isotonic is coconut water, which has been said to be even better than actual water during labour, as the health benefits are so vast.
Here are our top picks:
Isotonic drinks (Lucozade/Coconut water).
Frozen Capri suns- grab on the way out of the door and they will still be cold by the time you need them.
Congratulations, you did it! Time to replenish your energy stores.
To this day, the best cup of tea I have ever had in my life was the cup of tea I was brought after I had my daughter. It was comforting and amazing, everyone should have such an experience. I remember eating some sort of sandwich, and a sponge pudding that I inhaled- the food in question isn't super important but do try to have something. Many hospital maternity units still provide the traditional tea and toast combination, which is always welcome. It is a good idea to pack something filling that you really like, just in case for any reason the food trolley isn't available or the hospital shop is closed. Also for a home birth, you can prepare something delicious to grab from the fridge or pop straight in the oven.
A Note on Cravings
It's all very well packing the perfect hospital bag, full of healthy, energy-boosting snacks. But you don't want to get to the hospital with lots of carrot sticks but not the ONE thing that has brought you comfort, joy and relief all pregnancy - do not let that happen! Take the jar of pickles, take the tin of sardines, midwives really have seen it all (you've probably heard that a lot, sorry). Cravings are the amazing way our bodies communicate what we really need at that moment, so it's good to listen in.
Note: If you find yourself craving non-food items such as chalk, charcoal or sand (all surprisingly common) have a chat with your midwife or doctor as this could be a symptom of a deficiency.
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