As an expectant mom with a due date approaching, there are many details that need to have attention paid to them. Not only does the emergency bag need to be packed with clothes for mom and the new baby, there are so many other things that have to go on the checklist before the due date draws closer.
Getting ready to give birth is a big deal. In most cases, there is enough preparation time to have everything thoroughly looked over. In other cases of emergency labor, the whole planning and organization goes out the window and you just rush to the hospital as necessary.
If you have been fortunate enough to have the means and time to prepare everything thoroughly, you do deserve a pat on the back. It is no easy task for a woman 9 months into pregnancy to still have her head screwed on tightly enough to write comprehensive lists.
However, there might be one thing that you’re overlooking in all the mayhem of getting ready for the main event. And that is, what you’re going to eat. It might sound like a simple thing to think about. After all, you just need good, healthy food to give you the energy for labor and delivery, right?
Well, be warned. There are plenty of foods that have ended up tasting like regret once expectant moms have entered the labor and delivery suite. Make sure you don’t put any of these culinary delights on your list!
Given that labor and delivery involves burning a whole lot of unexpected calories, it would make sense to carbo-load and be prepared for it, wouldn’t it? Well, it might not turn out exactly as you’d imagine. Carbo-loading with a bunch of pasta works for running a marathon, but labor and delivery is a whole different type of marathon.
Eating too much pasta before going into labor just doesn’t agree with the stomach. Pasta is high in complex carbohydrates, which are great normally, but they take a while to digest. While this does lead to a slow release of energy, the slow digestion can mess with the internal organs and clog up the bowels. Given there is already so much additional pressure on that part of the body thanks to the baby pushing down, you don’t need anymore!
It might seem like a good idea at the time, while rushing in the car to the hospital in between contractions, to get some fast food. After all, McDonald’s or Hungry Jacks has always been a reliable source of a quick eat. And what could possibly go wrong with downing a burger to settle the stomach before giving birth?
Well, just about everything could. A fast food burger is jam-packed with grease, oil, and all the wrong types of fats. This just isn’t what your body wants or needs when it is going to exert a whole ton of energy pushing the baby out. These foods are hard work for your stomach to digest, meaning they might hang around inside your guts longer than you want or need. This makes your stomach tough and tight during labor, a time when it wants to be free to contract and push.
The whole principle that bigger is better really doesn’t apply to what you eat before going into labor. Portion size control has never been more important, in fact. Although, this can be a tough one to get right. Some women will be absolutely ravenous while going into labor and want to eat everything in their sight. Other women just completely lose their appetite and have no desire to chow down anything.
Whatever way it rolls for you going into labor, it is advisable to at least eat something small. Even just a sandwich will hit the spot or a handful of healthy nuts. You don’t want your stomach too full, and not too empty either. It’s got to be just right, just like Goldilocks!
Sometimes, a reliable remedy to settle an upset stomach is to eat some plain, simple toast. When bread becomes toast, it feels like magical things happen. And indeed, some toast is good to calm the stomach down before going into labor. But more than two slices of toast might end up feeling like a stack of regret.
Two slices of brown bread or multigrain bread toasted is a recipe for success before labor. This has just the right amount of carbohydrates and energy to see you through nicely without clogging anything up. However, keep the toast to just two slices and keep it simple. If you’re imagining an elaborate toasted feast with all kinds of sugary sweets, you might want to reconsider.
As the body temperature rises with pregnancy, a nice, cooling popsicle sure does sound appealing. This is particularly true as the muscles warm up in preparation for labor and the contractions will kick into gear. As tempting as a popsicle is, it is one of the temptations of labor that can really be skipped over.
While a popsicle does cool you down and make you feel somewhat refreshed, it also contains a whole lot of sugar. In fact, the primary ingredient is just based on sugar, and not the good type of sugar that an apple has. All of this sugar results in an energy rush that is quickly released, and quickly over. So you’re just not going to get anything substantial from a popsicle, except for temporary relief. For the marathon of labor, you really want something that lasts.
Salted goodness might sound amazing for the taste buds. Actually, some saltine crackers are advisable before going into labor. Salt helps to keep the muscles lubricated and relaxed in a way, preventing cramps, so there is definitely nothing with one small packet of crackers.
However, saltine crackers are notoriously addictive. This means that when you crunch into one, you want to crunch into another. While self-control might be the last thing on your mind before and during labor, the crackers really need to have limits. Too many salty delights will leave you dehydrated, which is not a good idea when you’re giving birth to a baby for many obvious reasons. Since the only cure for dehydration is water, water, water, you might end up sitting on the toilet more than you want to while the baby is pushing its way out. So just stick to a handful salty crackers, and no more!
When it comes to a healthy diet in general, anything wrapped in plastic is going to be heavily processed, full of sugars, and hiding more fat between the wrappers than you may first notice. These things are not what you want during pregnancy. This mostly refers to things like biscuits, cakes, muffins, and anything else that tastes deliciously convenient.
During pregnancy, you want a slow release of energy but in a lighter way than excess carbohydrates. So if you’re picking up any snacks at the supermarket, skip the aisle with the plastic wrapped delights. Rather, grab a handful of almonds, raisins, walnuts, and cashews. These will do wonders for your digestive system during labor and delivery while giving you the energy you’re going to need.
Ah, chocolate, perhaps the biggest saviour of pregnancy out there (for women who can/enjoy eating chocolate). In so many times of emotional mood swings and the emotional rollercoaster of pregnancy, chocolate has been something that is reliable and delicious. However, this safety food might not be so safe right before labor and delivery.
Chocolate is more than just a comfort food. It is something that has lots of sugars which make up the deliciousness of it. When you eat sugar, you get a quick release of energy. The sugars in chocolate also tap into your endorphin release, hence the feel-good feeling that they bring. While energy and endorphins sound great for labor and delivery, the crash after they exit the body is going to hit hard. Save the chocolate for once the show is over!
Energy drinks, or anything sugary and aerated, are such a trap that is so easy to fall into. These types of drinks give a false burst of energy. This energy is basically imaginary and won’t last long enough for anything productive to happen. Plus, this type of energy is jam-packed with unnecessary calories that aren’t needed at this time of your life. More importantly, energy drinks or even soft drinks just shouldn’t be going into a body where a baby is growing!
There is really no reason to down an energy drink before labor. It won’t make you a superhero who can pop a baby out at lightning speed. It will just give you a sugar rush and headache at the end. No thanks!
Mmm, cake. So soft, so delicious, so light and fluffy. That’s got to be a good idea before labor, right? After all, it is a bit of a ‘treat yo self’ moment after all the hard yards that have been endured over the past 9 months of pregnancy. Cake is the perfect reward for anything like this, isn’t it?
Well, maybe you ought to save the cake for after the baby is born. Have it as a welcome home baby, mom’s gotta eat that slab of cake now, type of moment. It will save your stomach a lot of burden and pressure if you save the cake for later. Eating cake is another sugary trap of quick release energy. It also sits in your stomach for a longer time, making the guts feel tight and rough before labor.
Generally speaking, the deal with pregnancy is that coffee goes out the window. However, if the caffeine addiction hasn’t been fully quenched over the past 9 nine months and a craving hits right before labor starts, it isn’t going to the best idea that has ever happened.
Caffeine is basically a big no-no at any stage of pregnancy, but especially before labor. This is mostly because it interferes with the flow of nutrients to the baby via the umbilical cord and placenta. Also, caffeine has basically no nutrients, only false energy, so it isn’t going to make pregnancy, or labor for that matter, a faster process. Furthermore, coffee just isn’t easy on the stomach. It is a diuretic so it either clogs things up or makes you need to go. Either way, you just want a settled, calm stomach before labor starts.
We spoke a bit about this one with the whole giant bowl of pasta that can be oh-so-tempting. But when it comes to labor and delivery, carbo-loading just isn’t going to be as effective as you think. Carbohydrates are good for slow energy release, but they tend to stay in the digestive system longer than you realize.
With labor and delivery, you don’t want a totally empty stomach, but you don’t want a light and flexible stomach. So something lightweight and easy to digest, but still healthy, is what you’re really looking for. Too much bread, pasta, and potatoes are just going to stick around in your stomach, making it feel like you have a newborn baby ready to pop out as well as a giant food baby sitting inside.
Ah, dairy, something that people will love or hate. Sometimes, women who have firmly disliked dairy most of their lives will find cravings for it popping up throughout pregnancy. The worst time to get one of these dairy cravings, especially in the form of something like a large, creamy milkshake, is right before going into labor.
Basically, humans are made to process dairy and lactose at a slower rate. Often, dairy can cause stomach upsets when the stomach is particularly sensitive. There is nothing more sensitive on the stomach than a baby pushing through the insides to get out of the womb. So dairy just isn’t going to sit particularly well. If you want a large drink, hit up some milk-free fruit juice instead!
While boosting the iron intake during pregnancy is a good idea, doing it right before labor isn’t so much. For meat eaters about to give birth, a large slab of steak or a hearty chicken breast will take a long time to digest.
A heavy meat based meal is going to make the stomach full and tight, even when the contractions are kicking into gear. Furthermore, if you do end up needing an emergency C-section, the big solid meal you just ate can interfere with the effectiveness of the anesthetic. So when labor starts, you might want to stick to just plant-based meals and save the meat for later.
A salad is a much better salad when it is all dressed up nicely. Some nice balsamic vinegar or French dressing can add a real kick to the salad and make it much more appealing for the taste buds. However, salad dressing has a few ingredients that aren’t going to sit so well in the stomach when the contractions and the pushing are in full force.
Salad dressings tend to be high in acidic properties, which can cause mild acid reflux and heartburn when they aren’t digested properly. A salad is a great idea before going into labor as it is light and easy to digest, but it is better to lay off the dressing and eat those lettuce leaves plain and simple, as nature intended. Otherwise, you might feel an uncomfortable burning in the chest which isn’t going to make things any smoother.
Sources: Whattoexpect.com, Livestrong.com, Birthtakesavillage.com, Thehealthsite.com