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.