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Eating during labor

Posted by on Nov. 12, 2009 at 10:39 PM
  • 21 Replies

I just read a post about this in another group and thought I would put it infront of you.

Who ate and drank during labor? Did it make you feel like you had more energy?

Those who weren't allowed, did you feel hydrated or hungry? Did you tire quickly?

With your next pregnancy, will you eat and drink during labor?

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sissychristi, Pregnancy Group Mod

by on Nov. 12, 2009 at 10:39 PM
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by on Nov. 12, 2009 at 10:41 PM

They don't allow it here, in case you need a c-section. I was STARVING! The most they would give me was jello, so I ate 4 bowls. LOL!!

 There are two ways to live your life - one is as though nothing is a miracle, the other is as though everything is a miracle. Albert Einstein andee.jpg picture by us5dots Join us in the Pregnancy Group Housefullofkidz, Pregnancy Group Mod 

by on Nov. 12, 2009 at 10:41 PM

I didn't really eat or drink anything. My labor was so fast though. Once I got a room I slept until it was time to wake up and push. As for hydration, I had an IV.  

 Kairi is 3!      turkey


by on Nov. 12, 2009 at 10:47 PM

It seems so strange that many hospitals still do that. The reason is that if women go under general anesthesia, the doctors fear they may vomit and inhale it because general anesthesia causes nausea and vomiting.

Funny thing about that is going under general anesthesia almost never happens anymore. Women are awake for the sections, so the odds of throwing up during a section are nearly zero. 

Quoting housefullofkidz:

They don't allow it here, in case you need a c-section. I was STARVING! The most they would give me was jello, so I ate 4 bowls. LOL!!

pregnant bellyJoin us in the Pregnancy Group -

sissychristi, Pregnancy Group Mod

by on Nov. 12, 2009 at 10:53 PM
Quoting sissychristi:

Who ate and drank during labor? Did it make you feel like you had more energy?

I ate things like fruit and yogurt, nothing too heavy.   I wasn't hungry (active labor can do that!).   Yah, it helped a lot.

Those who weren't allowed, did you feel hydrated or hungry? Did you tire quickly?

With your next pregnancy, will you eat and drink during labor?

I will always eat what I want, but I know there is a good possibility I won't be too hungry, too.

It's a very important time to eat & drink, if mom wants it!!    I have made other moms in labor snacks, meals, drinks, if they want it, eat up!    :-D

Here is info that I have saved to share:

Historically women have been advised to eat during labor. Sixty years ago, all of that changed. Find out why benefits of eating during labor may outweigh the risks.

Until the 1940's, women were actually told to eat and drink as they desired during labor. All of that changed in 1949, when 1 study showed that women who ate during labor had a higher chance of aspiration (food entering the lungs during anesthesia.) Since then, women have often been told that as soon as they feel contractions or think they are in labor, they should stop eating.

There are several reasons why this study, done nearly 60 years ago, should no longer apply to women in labor today:

  1. The original study was based on very high amounts of anesthesia, which are no longer used on women during cesarean births.
  2. Fasting during labor does not guarantee an empty stomach.
  3. The risk of aspiration only occurs with general anesthesia, which is used very rarely for cesareans.
  4. Prolonged fasting increases the amount of hydrochloric acid in your stomach which can increase the complications with aspiration.
  5. It is not good to base recommendations for practice on one study, especially given that this particular study is extremely outdated.

Arguments made for eating during labor include:

  1. Eating small amounts of easily-digested foods during labor can give you the energy you need to keep going.
  2. A 1989 National Birth Center study showed that 11,814 women who ate and drank at will during labor did not have a single case of aspiration, even among the 22% of women in the total group who required a cesarean.
  3. Sometimes the knowledge that you can't eat during your labor can affect your sense of control. That alone might make you feel like giving up sooner.
  4. Often midwives and doulas report that if a mother's labor is not progressing, often eating and drinking during labor helps to get things moving.

What are good "Labor Foods" to eat during labor?

It might help to think about the foods you would eat if you are recovering from a stomach flu. You would not start eating pizza right away! In fact, the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group (a well-known source of evidence-based information and research) recommends the use of a low fat, low residue diet during labor.

Here is a list of some of the top foods that women often enjoy eating during labor.

    Plenty of fluids - water, diluted juice, electrolyte-balanced beverages
    Toast or ½ bagel with jam
    Cereals - hot or cold
    Pasta (light sauce or parmesan)
    Tea with sugar or honey
    Sorbet or ice cream
    Baked or mashed potato
    Soup - non-creamy
    Mashed banana or mango
    ½ Granola or cereal bar

Not everyone is hungry in labor, so don't force yourself to eat. Studies have shown that women tend to eat more in early labor and then gradually taper off how much food they eat as labor progresses. If you are not feeling like you want to eat during your labor then listen to your body. Instead try sipping fluids containing a small amount of sugar or a popsicle, even if you don't feel like eating solid foods during labor.

Also avoid heavily-sweetened juice. It's even better to dilute what you are drinking. A high sugar content can increase nausea and acid in your stomach. Your place of birth may not allow solid foods in labor so be sure to check ahead of time if you would like the option of eating during labor. If you plan to use a birth center, there are typically no restrictions in eating or drinking during labor.

Either way, you should have the option to eat up until the time you leave for the hospital. Your birth team will also get hungry so don't forget to pack a snack for fathers and support people in your labor bag.

What foods did you like to eat in labor? Tell us about it.

For more information about planning for birth, click here.

For more information about eating, see All About Pregnancy Nutrition.

The copyright of the article Eating During Labor? in Pregnancy & Childbirth is owned by Brenda Lane

Eating and Drinking in Labour



Eating and Drinking in Labour
by Penny Champion and Carol McCormick

The issue of whether women should have the choice of eating and drinking in labor continues, but there is still no consensus of opinion. This book provides an up-to-date review of the current literature while helping facilitate an informed choice. Includes cultural and historical perspectives on eating and drinking in labor; and changes in maternal metabolism and appetite in labor and the shift from fetal to neonatal metabolism. Paperback, 2001.

Food and Drink for Labor

Some women experience an urge to load up on carbohydrates in the 24-hour period before the onset of active labor, similar to what an athlete may do in preparation for running a marathon on the following day. Go for it! (I had a bread, salad and pasta dinner at a local restaurant 12 hours before my second child was born and never felt nauseated in labor, which started about five hours after the meal.) This strategy is especially recommended for women facing a scheduled induction. Avoid having the hard work to hit after essentially fasting for 24 hours or more.

EAT IN EARLY LABOR. This is essential and must be maintained throughout the day. Don't just settle for breakfast and stop there. Eat every 2–3 hours, whatever is appealing. You may want to avoid heavy, greasy foods such as pizza or fast food (which don't digest easily under the best of circumstances).

Avoid substances that will cause a blood sugar level spike, such as soda and other forms of concentrated sugar (read labels!). These are dehydrating and ultimately lead to blood sugar crashing.

If planning a hospital birth, eat a banana on the way to the hospital. Despite most TV depictions of how women go into labor (i.e., a sudden contraction alerts her to the need to rush to the hospital where she gives birth soon after on her back, typically involving various emergencies for dramatic effect), most women have plenty of time to take care of themselves with little need for high drama.

During labor, try a variety of the suggestions below, alternating them. A little protein here, some electrolytes there, something sweet to boost your energy, the Pregnancy Tea—you get the idea. That will keep a mom going if the labor is long.

Drink lots of water, at least 4 oz per hour throughout labor, more if it's a hot day and you're sweating a lot. Have your support team help you with this. (Note to all attendants: Your job is to encourage the mom to drink throughout her labor. If she is willing to drink, asking for liquids and consistently taking several gulps when offered, then just keep the supply coming and keep an eye on her to ensure she doesn't stop drinking at some point. However, if the mom is disinterested in drinking and reluctant to do so, then frequent small sips will be necessary. Keep offering!)

Finally, don't hesitate to accept IV fluids if you can't keep anything down over a long period of time and are getting dehydrated. While healthy women will not need routine IV fluids, dehydration can cause your labor to be dysfunctional and non-productive. An IV can turn the picture around and is an appropriate use of medical intervention.

Patty Brennan
Excerpted from "The Birth Marathon—Food Drink for Labor and Birth," The Birthkit, Issue 56

How DARE Mother Nature question SCIENCE!       ~Mike Tymeson

The impossible is often the untried.       ~Jim Goodwin

Women's bodies have their own wisdom, and a system of birth refined over 100,000 generations is not so easily overpowered.      ~Sarah Buckley

by on Nov. 13, 2009 at 8:17 AM

I've always eaten during labor up until I was admitted to the hospital.  I had snacks with me but by the time I got to the hospital, food was the last thought on my mind.  I did, however, drink, drink, drink, drink and it definitely was needed. 

A marathon runner has drinks and energy bars...why wouldn't a laboring mother need them too? 

   Lilypie Expecting a baby Ticker

by on Nov. 13, 2009 at 8:21 AM

I ate a normal dinner during labor both times,  after i drank and ate what i wanted. I wasn't hungry during active labor but i did drink water, tea and apple juice. Women should eat and drink during labor, you wouldn't run a marathon or exercise for hours without nutrition either so why should it be good to do during labor?

 Throughout the world, there exists a group of women who feel mightily drawn to giving care to women in childbirth. At the same time maternal and independent, responsive to a mother's needs, yet accepting full responsibility as her attendant; such women are natural midwives. Without the presence and acceptance of the midwife, obstetrics becomes aggressive, technical, and inhuman.

Professor G.J. Kloosterman, Chief of OB/GYN, Univ. of Amsterdam


by on Nov. 13, 2009 at 8:25 AM

I don't think I was very concerned with eating or drinking during my labors. But this time, I'm waiting to go to the hospital until I'm closer to transitional labor. I'm going to eat and drink as I need to.

by on Nov. 13, 2009 at 8:54 AM

i never wanted to eat while i was in labor- i doubt i will this time either

by on Nov. 13, 2009 at 9:00 AM

when i was in labor with  dd1 i had a emergency csection and i had to be  put  under general and  i had to with my dd2   bc trhey  could not get the epidural to  work at all  so i hope  this time around i  get to see this baby being born  seeing as i have to have another csection anyways  but i didnt want to eat  but afterward i was starving ! lol

by on Nov. 13, 2009 at 9:38 AM

I ate early on in my labor but after they gave me the pitocin I couldnt keep anything down. I still tried to drink though.

I'm not sure if I'll eat and drink this time around, it depends on how I feel.

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