Eating and Drinking During Labour – What to Have and Avoid

Eating and Drinking During Labour - What to Have and Avoid

Eating during labour might seem like a strange proposition, especially when you know that your child is going to be emerging out any time. Food consumption is usually the last thing on the mind of a woman about during childbirth, but there is a valid reason behind it.

Does Eating and Drinking Help to Deal With Labour Pain?

Labour pains are a natural consequence of the entire process of childbirth. Eating the right foods or drinking appropriate beverages may not reduce the pain. However, they can help you feel calm and provide your body with the right kind of energy.

What is the Proper Way to Eat During Labour?

Apart from knowing the right food to eat in labour, it is just as important to know the proper way to consume the meal as well. Having a meal that is fully balanced is all aspects is quite important. The focus needs to remain on food items that can be a great source of quick energy that the body can tap into. Carbohydrates and proteins are your friends, right from various salads and soups, sprouts and other food items. Finish your meal at least 4 hours before the actual labour, and you can drink fruit juices intermittently throughout.

  • Going into labour without eating anything is not recommended at all since it can easily make you feel tired
  • If your tastes have changed, drinking fruit pulp or fresh juices can be beneficial
  • Don’t force yourself to eat. Enjoy the meal gently and peacefully
  • Avoid eating too much or having a feast of sorts
  • Indulging in a snack every 90 minutes is helpful, too

Things to Eat and Drink During Different Phases of Labour

When choosing the food items that you can eat during labour, they need to be segregated based on the phases of labour itself. The journey of childbirth is usually demarcated into two major phases, one where labour is yet to kick in fully, and the other where labour has progressed quite ahead.

1. Early Labour

Mothers usually have no clue what to eat in early labour, especially due to all the anxiety as well as the excitement of seeing their child. However, this phase is the best one to prep yourself with as much energy as possible, allowing you to see through the childbirth without getting tired. Keep the amount minimal and focus on food items that are easy to digest.

  • A mixture of dried fruits and nuts
  • Smoothies made from green vegetables and fruits
  • Raw fruits like apples and bananas with butter
  • Mini meals made of brown rice and egg, along with some yoghurt

2. Active Labour

As childbirth approaches closer, the active phase of labour will set in. As a result of it, the body cuts down the appetite and you may not feel hungry. Even so, it is great if you can take a few bites of nutritious snacks or easy to digest items occasionally. Having a variety of items is important since you may find a couple of them repulsive in their taste or aroma suddenly.

  • Fruit bars with minimal artificial constituents
  • Raspberry leaf tea with some honey, since it stimulates labour
  • Raw honey along with some applesauce
  • Frozen fruits such as blueberries, grapes and even bananas
  • Any natural sources of healthy sugar for a quick boost of energy

Woman eating in hospital

What Should You Avoid Eating and Drinking During Labour?

Labour is going to put a lot of stress on the lower region of your body, including your abdomen. Therefore, it is extremely important to avoid certain foods and drinks during labour as much as possible.

  • Keep away from any kind of herbs or natural remedies meant to support childbirth or reduce pain. There is a good chance they could interfere with the natural process or other medicines, leading to complications.
  • Energy drinks or aerated beverages are not the best options during labour. Calories and sugar do not provide any energy to the body.
  • Food items containing artificial sugars like chocolates or any dessert items. Sure, they can give you a sugar high and make you feel energised. But that is temporary and can result in a massive dip in energy rapidly.
  • Any food items that contain a lot of fats or meat products. Such items are not easy to digest and are quite intensive on the digestive system. Labour is not exactly the best time to put your stomach through those tasks.

If You Have Taken Labour Pain Relievers, Should You Eat?

Having the right labour foods and staying away from the rest is important. But, in certain cases, your doctor may ask you to keep food consumption to a minimum or even avoid it altogether. This is usually the case if you have opted for any kind of pain relief medication or are already on one. Most of the medicines such as diamorphine, pethidine, or any kind of an epidural act on the bodily processes and may even reduce the pace of digestion. Therefore, snacking should be absolutely minimal and water consumption should be restricted to a few sips. Sticking to your doctor’s advice is absolutely important.

Is it Safe to Eat if You Are Having a C-Section?

In earlier times, if a woman was scheduled to have a caesarean delivery, then she would be asked to stay away from food at all times. Usually, women would be advised to stay off food anyway since there is always a possibility of an emergency caesarean in case of complications during natural delivery. The reasoning behind it was the administration of general anaesthesia. Since it renders you completely unconscious, there is a valid risk of food rising up your oesophagus and being inhaled, leading to pneumonia.

With modern medical science, the risks of the same have minimized tremendously. General anaesthesia is rarely used for deliveries. Either an epidural is administered or doctors make use of local anaesthesia. Even if general anaesthesia is used, doctors apply pressure on the oesophagus to cut off the path and keep the food within the stomach.

For first-time mothers, knowing what to eat during labour pain is extremely essential to keep their energy levels high at all times. Your body needs all the support it can get from within to go through childbirth, which can be achieved by planning your food consumption accordingly.

Also Read: Tips for Easy Labor and Delivery