It is a good idea to pack snacks into your hospital labour bag as you need to keep nourished and hydrated throughout labour. But what is good to take? Just because you love a food, or crave it throughout pregnancy, doesn’t mean it is going to be good for labour.
Many mums find that they can’t eat a single thing and taking small sips of water is all they can manage (and I was one of those mums). Even the thought of eating can turn your stomach in labour, but if it has been going on for a while, and you have missed a meal, then you might want to try to get something inside you to help keep your energy up.
So what is a good thing to take? Here are some tips to get your started on your hospital bag snack shopping list.
1. Take food that is easy to eat
This might sound blindingly obvious but the thing I found in labour above all was that chewing was not possible. Of course I had a bag full of chewy muesli bars! each mouthful was like climbing Everest. No, stick to snacks that can be easily chewed, swallowed or dissolved in the mouth to get it down the hatch as quick as possible.
TAKE: melon, banana, chocolate, yoghurt, cheese.
AVOID: chewy muesli bars, biscuits, sandwiches.
2.Take food that will give you energy
High energy food means that you get a boost even from quite small mouthfuls. The less you have to eat, the better really.
TAKE: Energy tablets, banana, chocolate, sweets, honey.
AVOID: rice cakes, cakes, popcorn.
3. Hydrate at the same time
You need to keep hydrated in labour so if you eat something that is wet, then you are going to help your body avoid thirst. But remember some drinks, like tea, make you need to pee so avoid them if possible. Caffeine products can also raise your adrenaline levels so best to avoid anything with caffeine in. If you use gas & air you can often get very dry lips and mouth as you are breathing through your mouth the whole time, so having lip balm on hand is helpful.
TAKE: Fruit smoothies, milkshakes, milk, isotonic drinks, fruit juice, bottle with a straw (can be drunk from any angle)
AVOID: tea, coffee, caffeine energy drinks, fizzy drinks (burping in a contraction – no, just no!)
4. Snacks for post-labour
Labour for any length can be exhausting, but if you have had a really long labour with many missed meals you may well find you are ravenously hungry after labour. Meals are provided in hospital once you are admitted but if you have missed the menu selection then you might find you are stuck on a ward with no food coming until breakfast, and all the eateries closed for the night. Good to have some fairly substantial snacks in packets that will keep you going until morning with no preparation.
TAKE: sandwiches, pasties, sausage rolls, pasta salad, cheese, muesli bars
AVOID: sweets, but to be honest anything tastes great after labour!
And don’t forget…
That eating and drinking to keep you nourished in labour is important for you to keep your energy levels up, but what goes in must come out. There is so much going on in your abdomen, and so many crazy sensations of contractions, baby movements and nerve stimulation that the signals your bladder and bowels are sending to your brain get quite lost along the way. And a full bladder can slow labour down.
Make sure you go to the loo regularly, even if you don’t feel you need to. If you have had to pee every 20 minutes for the past 3 months, then labour is not going to be any different. And the added benefit of sitting on the loo is tat your body naturally unclenches so all the better for helping baby to come out.