Eating during labor is really important! A steady intake of calories can help you keep your energy levels up, nourish your body, and help you stay hydrated. Eating during labor can help you be comfortable and prevent nausea. Here are some tips and options for what to eat and drink during labor.
Feed yourself the way you would feed a toddler.
Some of my favorite snacks for labor are “toddler snacks.” They’re portable, quick, and easy to eat. Applesauce pouches, crackers, fruit, trail mix, juice, popsicles, and granola bars are all great options! Honey sticks are one of my FAVORITE things for labor – they give a quick burst of sugar and are super easy to eat. And delicious! Kids love them too.
Hit up your local REI or another outdoor recreation store.
Another great way to find snacks is to hit up your local REI store and browse through their snack section! They have lots of snacks for people who like to backpack, bike, run, or hike. Again, pouches are quick and easy to eat. There are many different varieties available so try a few out and find your favorite! Granola bars, snack bars, jerky, electrolyte mix… the options are countless!
Remember the protein!
Protein packs a powerful punch and can help you stay full and refuel your muscles during labor. These options will vary according to your diet, but meat sticks or jerky, string cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, hardboiled eggs, hummus, and protein drinks or bars are all great options!
Mix up your drink choices!
Water is obviously a great choice (our bodies are up to 60% water, after all!) and I encourage all birthing people to drink as much water as they can. But there are other ways to stay hydrated! You can add fruit, herbs, and vegetables to your water – I love to add citrus like lemon and lime, cucumber, berries, watermelon, rosemary, mint, etc. Other great drink options are coconut water, smoothies (bottled or homemade), broth, and electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade, Nuun, Powerade, Smart Water, etc. You can even find recipes to make your own “labor aid!”
Eat smaller meals (or snacks) more often.
Sometimes you won’t feel super hungry during labor, especially in the later stages, but it’s still important to eat! This is why I suggest people keep small, quick meal or snack options on hand. All of the ideas mentioned above are great, but you can think about other things you might want to eat during your birthing time!
Make sure to eat during early labor!
You might be too excited and distracted to eat when you’re in early labor – this is really happening! You’ll be meeting your baby soon! – but having a hearty meal before your labor gets intense is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Early labor is a great time to have a bigger meal. Eat whatever you feel you can handle and want! We went out for bagels and a smoothie when I was in early labor and it was a great breakfast. You’ll thank yourself later for nourishing your body!
Make your own meal plan for labor!
There are so many great options for food to eat during labor. These are just some ideas to start – take these choices and add to them! Some other great options are oatmeal, sandwiches, soup, leftovers, breakfast foods, and whatever YOU are craving!
Remember food for your partner/support people, and postpartum too!
While you’re planning and making a list, be sure to add your partner or support people’s favorite foods and snacks too. Just maybe avoid anything super fragrant, or bring extra mints! Be sure to think about what you’ll want to eat postpartum as well. Many of the above options are great for postpartum but it can be wonderful to treat yourself after all of your hard work. You deserve it!