The results are in, and The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists concluded that women with low-risk singleton pregnancies, who were allowed to eat more freely during labor, had a shorter duration of labor. As long as the mother is healthy, there is no need to restrict food or drinks. We can say bye-bye to the days of sucking on ice chips and popsicles. Childbirth can be compared to running a marathon, and you can’t run a marathon without any fuel. Eating and drinking during labor will help replenish the body, and store some much-needed energy when it’s time for the grand finale.
Doctors restricted food intake in the past because pregnant women were more likely to be put under general anesthesia. In that case, food in the digestive tract could be aspirated. Thanks to the incredible scientific advances over the years, it is now incredibly unlikely to need anesthesia for a healthy pregnancy. Studies have shown the aspiration rate to be minimal. Ask your doctor or midwife if food in the delivery room is safe for you.
When you get the thumbs up to eat during childbirth, be careful of what you eat. Choosing the right food is important to help make labor as painless as possible. Carbohydrates are going to be the best option, as they’re easily digested and give a slow release of energy that will help you make it to the final push. Keep reading to find out the top foods mom can eat during childbirth!
15 Banana Bread
Banana bread is an awesome alternative to the traditional loaf of bread. It’s packed with vitamins and healthy nutrients, which is exactly what the laboring mama needs. It is low in calories, fats, and sugars. When a mom is eating during labor, she needs a lighter and more nutritious product. Banana bread may be exactly what you are looking for. It’s not only healthy but extremely delicious!
Bananas are packed with healthy right protein. This nutrient is important for muscle repair, growth, and recovery. It can also help stabilize the levels of blood sugar and satisfy your cravings. Bananas will make your bread really sweet and tasty. It’s a perfect way to get carbohydrates, which are so essential for a mother during childbirth. Banana bread can be combined with various nuts to add more protein and healthy fiber.
Whether you are sick with a stomach bug or have a little baby bug inside your belly, applesauce is always a good staple food to have in large supply. It goes down easy when you are feeling a bit nauseous, and applesauce will give you that much needed energy boost in the delivery room. According to LiveStrong, both applesauce and apple juice possess similar calorie counts. However, because the applesauce also contains fiber in the form of pectin, it's the healthier option.
The fiber found in applesauce will keep moms digestive system functioning regularly, and it is much more filling than apple juice. You will feel full, and remain full when you eat applesauce instead of drinking apple juice. Good Housekeeping recommends 365s Organic Unsweetened Applesauce for an “intense apple flavor” and the perfect balance of tartness. Applesauce also comes in a variety of flavors such as strawberry or blueberry.
13 Plain Pasta
Labor isn’t the best time to eat a plate full of penne, tossed in your favorite meat sauce. Plain pasta might not sound as appetizing, but a small dish of plain pasta can be the perfect (and bland) snack you’re looking for. Plus, it is definitely a great way to carbo-load for the biggest event of your life! Just like bread, the whole wheat pasta is even better. And, it will give you a longer lasting energy boost.
Since blood flow is concentrated in your womb instead of your stomach, food will take longer to digest during labor. Eating a big heavy meal could induce vomiting, and we don’t want that. It’s best to eat smaller meals more often rather than having one big meal. Remember, keep it small and simple.
Yogurt is another good, healthy and light snack. You can eat it plain, frozen, throw some nuts and fruit in with it to make a mini parfait, or blend it with fruit and juice for a smoothie. Listen to your body and eat it however you can. WebMD explains that yogurt contains probiotics and the “good” bacteria our bodies need. Probiotic, which literally means ''for life,'' refers to living organisms that can result in a health benefit when eaten in adequate amounts. Yogurt is a great choice for a mama who is about to give the gift of life.
Yogurt can also help to keep the blood pressure stabilized during labor. A recent study found a link between dairy intake and risk of high blood pressure. ''We observed a 50% reduction in the risk of developing high blood pressure among people eating 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy a day (or more), compared with those without any intake,'' says Alvaro Alonso, MD, PhD, and a researcher in the department of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.
11 Toast, Naan And Chapati
Carbohydrates are an excellent food option because they are easy to digest. In addition, they give a slow release of energy that can help you with the contractions as they intensify. Bland but sustaining foods such as toast are the way to go. Chose whole-grain toast for a longer lasting energy boost, and add some jam for flavor!
In North India, a side of delicious bread will accompany most meals. Naan is a soft, leavened flatbread made of white flour that’s traditionally cooked in a tandoor or clay oven. This is going to be much thicker than the average piece of toast, so it will be sure to fill moms belly.
Chapati is an unleavened wheat-flour bread rolled out much thinner than naan, and cooked on a flat griddle. Both of these Indian breads will give mom the carbohydrates and energy she needs during labor.
Jello is another good food option for mom when she doesn’t have much of an appetite. It’s sweet, light on the stomach and easy to swallow. Most people think of jello as nothing more than sugar water. That is so far from the truth. Technically speaking, Jell-O is a name brand and not a food. Jell-O is made using gelatin. Old folk tales say gelatin comes from horse hooves, but these tales are inaccurate. According to LiveScience, gelatin actually comes from boiling the bones and hides of animals processed for their meat, usually cows and pigs.
The health benefits of gelatin can be very beneficial to a mom in labor. Gelatin can reduce inflammation of the joints, strengthen blood vessels and bones, improve digestion and boost the immune system. All of which are important during childbirth. And for an added bonus, some say gelatin can prevent stretch marks, as it helps to improve the elastics in your skin.
9 Honey Sticks
Honey sticks are a sweet and tasty treat. A honey stick is a small amount of honey encased in a plastic tube. In order to get the honey out, you just cut off the end, and.... Voila! It’s ready to eat! Some honey sticks come in yummy flavors, like lemon or raspberry.
There is an enormous amount of health benefits you can get from honey. Honey contains a long list of natural minerals and vitamins which help reduce bad cholesterol. It has a healthy Glycemic Index (GI), which means that the sugars can be absorbed into the bloodstream slowly to result in better digestion. Honey is also a great source of simple carbohydrates. Easily digestible carbs are exactly what a laboring mom needs to eat!
Fun Fact: According to researchers, it is a more effective and safer remedy for children's coughs than over-the-counter medicines.
8 Brown Rice
Rice is yet another food that contains high amounts of carbohydrates which will energize your body immediately. Rice can act as a fuel to keep your energy up while you are in the early labor stages. Rice possesses low sodium content. It also helps regulate your blood pressure levels when you are pregnant. Some researchers believe that consuming an appropriate amount of brown rice, throughout pregnancy, will ensure a safe delivery. According to WebMD, brown rice is significantly better than white rice. They recommend replacing white rice and other refined grains with brown rice to try to prevent type 2 diabetes.
The US National Library Of Medicine and National Institutes Of Health published a study that has shown positive results in nursing women with respect to a reduction in mood disturbances, stages of depression and fatigue. It also suggested that consumption of brown rice, during lactation, enhances the body’s ability to resist stress and improves the overall immune defense. Brown rice is loaded with powerful antioxidants which provide stress relief. Which mom wouldn't need a good stress reliever during labor?
7 Coconut Water
The last and final step, before you get to hold your baby, is pushing. Many moms agree that this last battle is the hardest. It will be the most physically intense challenge your body has ever had. This is a crucial time to ingest quick, natural sugars in liquid form. Your body needs to stay hydrated and energized. You obviously can’t eat a piece of toast as you’re pushing, so what can you have? Ice chips and water are the delivery room staples for mom during the final push, but coconut water is an even better choice.
According to WebMD, coconut water may be better at replacing lost fluids than a sports drink or water. A study recently published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise shows that coconut water replenishes body fluids as well as a sports drink and better than water.
We have come a long way from ice chips and popsicles. Moms who have been given the thumbs up to eat during labor need to take full advantage. Your body and your baby will thank you for it!
Cereals are a good snack to take to the hospital when the big day arrives. Sugary foods are easy to eat and offer a quick energy boost, but this short-lived energy could leave you feeling low later on. Stay away from fruity pebbles and captain crunch. You don’t want to be sugar crashing when it’s time to push! Chose a healthy cereal such as Cheerios or Special K.
Many vitamins and minerals are found in Multigrain Cheerios. One cup provides 100 percent of the daily value for iron, vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin and vitamin B-12. The B vitamins are involved in energy production, which we desperately need during childbirth, and vitamin E works as an antioxidant. According to consumer reports, the original Toasted Whole Grain Oat is the best and healthiest choice of the Cheerios brand.
5 Nuts And Seeds
Nuts and seeds are good foods to snack on during early active labor. As the intensity of contracts builds up, appetite may decline. Eating nuts and seeds in between contractions will help mom store some much-needed energy for the main event.
There is still a rumor lurking around that pregnant women should avoid nuts. In 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics advised allergy-prone moms to avoid peanuts and tree nuts during pregnancy, to help prevent their babies from getting allergies. This way of thinking has been put on the back burner, and there are new studies suggesting that pregnant and nursing mothers do the opposite — eat more nuts! The new thinking is that introducing foods early might actually help an infant build a tolerance to them, lowering the risk of allergies. However, they are beyond yummy in a salad!
4 Bone-Infused Soups
There’s nothing homier than sitting down with your favorite bowl of hot soup. Soup may be the thing that helps you get through labor physically and emotionally. During labor, mom will want to stick with a clear broth, consider chicken or vegetable broth for the laboring body, mind, and soul. Soup will warm your body and it’s easy to digest. Homemade or low-sodium would be a better choice than the high-sodium canned varieties.
Homemade, nutrient-dense bone broth is incredibly easy and inexpensive to make. Simply place the bones and desired vegetables into a large pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Let simmer for a few hours, and then strain using a fine metal strainer to remove all the bits of bone and vegetable. Portion and freeze the broth to make it easily accessible for the big day.
3 Sweet Potatoes
Many people think of sweet potatoes as being nothing more than a plain old potato, with some extra flavor. However, research on sweet potatoes tells us that nothing could be further from the truth as they have so many unique nutritional benefits to offer!
"Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A, vitamin B5, B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, and, due to their orange color, are high in carotenoids," said San Diego-based nutritionist Laura Flores. “Plus, they're fat-free, relatively low in sodium and have fewer calories than white potatoes — although they do have more sugar.”
Sweet potatoes, like honey, also have a healthy glycemic index. "Sweet potatoes — unlike other starchy foods that elevate blood sugar rapidly after they're consumed due to their metabolism into sugar — will help steady the levels of blood sugar," Flores said. This means you won't get blood-sugar spikes, but you will get a steady amount of energy. This continuous release of energy will help you during the childbirth marathon.
2 Crackers And Oat Cookies
Crackers and oat cookies are a crucial delivery room snack. They are easy to pack, they don’t go bad or need to be refrigerated. The best part? They will provide mom with that source of carbohydrates that she so desperately needs during childbirth. The crackers can be eaten plain, with peanut butter or as a side to the delicious bone infused soup that you prepared for labor. If your labor surprises you and you didn’t get a chance to meal prep for the big day, then crackers are an easy go to that you can get almost anywhere at the last minute.
Consumer Health Digest suggests that when you are eating during labor you don’t have to spend too much time on thinking what to eat. Instead, be guided by what you feel like eating, but within reason. Carbohydrates are an ideal option because they are easy to digest and give a slow release of energy which can help you with the contractions.
Smoothies can be lifesavers for mom during childbirth. If you can’t stomach the sight or even the thought of food, try sipping on something sweet. There are endless smoothie recipes full of fiber, healthy fruits and veggies, and other essential nutrients to fit every mom's taste. When you are pregnant it is important that you are giving your body a wide variety of nutrients—proteins, folic acids, calcium, omega 3s, magnesium, tons of vitamins, and more. The same rules apply going into labor. It is the final inning of your pregnancy, and you will need every last ounce of energy your body has to give.
Parents.com has compiled a list of yummy smoothies, from the cookbook Smoothie-licious, that will make you drool. Blueberry pancake smoothies for all the breakfast loving mamas. Pineapple-basil smoothies if you want to feel like you’re heading to paradise. Pumpkin pie smoothies if your little one decides to come in the fall, and so much more! Do yourself a favor and check out the recipes sooner rather than later.
Sources: WebMD.com, LiveScience.com, LiveStrong.com, ConsumerReports.org, BabyCentre.co.uk, GoodHouseKeeping.com, Parents.com, utswmed.org