Rachel Hazlett Certified Fertility and Pregnancy dietitian discusses the ins and outs of what to eat during birth.
You’ve got to the end of your pregnancy and somehow this little being needs to come into the world, but what on earth are you supposed to eat during labour I hear you ask!
Labour is different for everyone and can last from eight hours through to 18. With such endurance required many women wonder if they are allowed to eat during labour and how it will affect their birthing experience.
Is it okay to eat during labour?
While many hospitals used to discourage women from eating and drinking during labour the latest research indicates that fasting during labour is not necessary. In fact, if you’re having a low risk labour then its important to nourish your body with the right foods during this time (if you’re able!). However, many women don’t feel like eating during labour – so I caution you to listen to your own body and do what you feel is right.
What should I eat during labour?
For many women labour is a bit like running a marathon and carbohydrates are the body’s preferred energy source to fuel this “exercise”. If you are able to eat in the early stages of labour carbohydrate-rich foods are recommended including:
- Toast white or wholemeal instead of grainy bread
- Fruit such as bananas
- Unbuttered popcorn
- Dry crackers
What should I drink during labour?
Similar to endurance sports, hydration is really important during labour. While many women don’t feel like drinking due to nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea it is really important to keep your fluids up or constipation can occur post delivery. Good drink choices during labour include:
What should I pack in my hospital bag?
Snacks such as dry crackers and unbuttered popcorn and some Gatorade or Powerade are good options to bring along.
Real life experiences from mums who’ve been through it:
“I wasn’t hungry during the early stages of my labours but I tried to keep my fluids up. My first labour I packed frozen juice boxes and lolly snakes. I didn’t feel like them during the beginning but after I got my epidural I felt really tired and wanted a little bit of a sugar hit. After 16hours of labour I finally felt hungry but I was advised not to eat because it was looking like I might have to have a caesarean and they don’t want you to have food in your stomach due to aspiration risk during this procedure. In the end I did end up requiring a c-section so I was glad I didn’t eat the egg sandwich I was craving!”
“During labour I felt really nauseous and I didn’t want to eat at all. I ended up vomiting throughout my 12 hour labour and I just focussed on hydrating throughout the process to keep up my fluids.”
“On the way to the hospital I was starving so we swung by McDonalds for some fries…. I was glad I did this because the labour took a lot out of me and I needed some energy for all the pushing! It’s hard work but my baby was worth it.”