Food & drink during labour

It used to be thought that eating during labour was a bad idea and only energy-boosting liquids were allowed, but things have changed. You’re now advised to eat light snacks whenever you feel like it in order to boost up your energy. It’s a good idea to plan out in advance what you think you’ll want so that you have it to hand when the time comes. As always, our team is happy to give you further advice and information.

How eating during labour builds up your energy ?

Unless you’re a regular marathon runner, you’ll probably be burning up more energy during labour than at any other time in your life. Try and build up your reserves while you’re in early labour, by having a little snack every so often. Once your contractions become stronger you’ll probably find you’re not that hungry anyway.

What can I have to eat?

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It’s recommended that you go for carbohydrates which give a slow release of energy, so choose things like bread, crispbreads, rice cakes, pasta, rice, dried fruit, bananas and cereals bars.

You can also have clear broths, milky puddings, low fat yoghurts, and cooked fruits like apple sauce. Avoid acidic fruit juice flavours like orange or grapefruit.

For quick energy, try spoonfuls of honey, pieces of chocolate or sweet tea. But avoid having too much sugar – after the initial rush of energy wears off you can start to feel quite low.

You can also have dextrose tablets, which release energy gradually and are easy to eat. Try some a few weeks before your due date to find your favourite flavour!

What can I have to drink?

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Being in labour is thirsty work, so make sure you drink plenty of water to keep you well hydrated throughout. You can also add squash to the water, or try juices such as apple or mango. Some herbal tea with added honey is delicious too and the natural sweetness in the honey will give you a boost.

Fizzy drinks and fruit juices, such as orange and grapefruit, are not a good idea because they contain a lot of acid which can make you feel sick. Some hospitals recommend sports drinks designed for athletes instead, because they’re quickly absorbed and give you instant energy. Ask your doctor for recommendations if you’re still feeling uncertain.