Should You Eat During Labor? What Foods?

what to eat in labor

Should you eat during labor?

It’s a very old-school policy in hospitals that women shouldn’t eat in labor. However, we know (and evidence shows) how important it is to eat during labor – to meet the energy needs of the body. Food is truly fuel, and just as important during labor, when the body and uterus are working hard to birth your baby.

If you are planning a home or birth center birth, your midwife will absolutely recommend having lots of nutritious snacks available. If you’re planning a hospital birth, you will need to pack your own snacks and foods in your hospital bag, and decide what you are comfortable with consuming during labor.

What foods should you eat during labor?

In early labor, you will most likely be eating a fuller meal, and in active labor it will be bites of foods here and there.

In my Birth Boot Camp classes and as a doula, I recommend snacks and meals that are light and well-balanced for early labor. Foods that include complex carbohydrates, with some protein and healthy fat to stabilize blood sugar and energy are best.

Followed with easy to consume foods that are easy on your stomach for in active labor. Think snack foods that your partner can easily give to you during labor.

Protein is an essential nutrient for the body. It is found throughout the body – in muscle, bone, skin, hair, and just about every other body part or tissue. During pregnancy, it is even recommended to get 80 grams of protein a day. This is an important food during early labor too, especially because early labor can often last days before active labor begins.

What to avoid?

Watch for food aversions to tastes or smells. Our body’s senses are actually heightened during labor, and that includes smells and taste. You don’t want anything that will cause you to become more nauseous.

Nothing too spicy or greasy, as most people will feel nauseous and may even vomit during labor.

Nothing acidic like oranges or lemons. The acidity may cause an upset stomach or burning if vomiting does occur.

Avoid high sugar and high fat foods. While they may give you a quick energy boost, they will also leave you feeling more tired and nauseous after. Avoid foods like candy, pastries, or processed food.

Snack List for Active Labor to Pack In Your Birth Bag

Click to download and save this foods and snacks list to pack your birth bag with! Make sure to use a small cooler for cold things.

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Are there any snacks or foods YOU enjoyed in labor?!

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