Savvy snacking can help keep your energy up during your labour.
Your hospital bag is packed and patiently waiting by the front door and you’ve written and re-written a birth plan – but one thing you might not have considered is what you’ll eat, and how much of it. Discover your energy-boosting labour menu.
Choose foods that release energy slowly
Wholemeal sandwiches, jacket potatoes and brown rice are great carbs that release their energy slowly so they keep you going for longer. Just think about what you’d eat the night before running a marathon, carbs are perfect for early labour – but later on they might be too heavy.
Stay away from spicy food
No matter what you’ve heard about curries bringing on labour, they’re best avoided once it’s started.
‘Try to keep your portions as light as possible and don’t eat anything too spicy,’ says midwife and director at My Own Midwife Catherine Chmiel. ‘You don't want anything that is going to repeat on you or make you feel nauseous.’ Curry burps and contractions are, after all, perhaps the worst imaginable combination.
Having a caesarean?
If you are booked in for a C-section or think there’s a chance you might need one speak to your midwife before tucking in to anything. Although the likelihood is very small, if you do need to have a general anaesthetic it is always best not to have eaten for about eight hours before.
Eat a small snack every hour
Even if your feel a bit nauseous or not hungry, aim to have something small every hour during labour. Try a few crackers, fruit (blueberries are a good energy source), toast or a cereal bar – it really will help you keep going. Soup and cereal are also good options for satisfying your hunger without filling you up too much.
The main reason it’s recommended to eat and drink during labour is to help prevent ketosis, which happens when the body starts to break down its fatty stores for energy. This can make you feel nauseous and give you a headache, which is the last thing you need on top of labour pains.
Drink plenty of water – regular sips are ideal. ‘If you’re struggling to eat but you feel like you could stomach a fizzy drink, an energy drink like Lucozade can help you through some tiring contractions,’ says Catherine.