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Best Foods for Labor

Rachel O'Reilly

 Keep these snacks on hand or in your birth bag. Most can be found at a local natural foods grocery store: raw nuts,  peppermint tea , honey sticks,  grass-fed beef bone broth,   coconut water,  and 80% dark chocolate 

Keep these snacks on hand or in your birth bag. Most can be found at a local natural foods grocery store: raw nuts, peppermint tea, honey sticks, grass-fed beef bone broth, coconut water, and 80% dark chocolate 

When thinking about what to pack in your birth bag, don’t forget about food and snacks! Everyone’s labor process is different, but having energizing foods on hand will prepare for a potentially early or long labor.  

If you’re having a home birth, stock the fridge with your normal routine foods. Simply make extra servings and store them in the freezer. If birthing at the hospital, bring some previously frozen foods to the hospital room if there’s a small refrigerator. Some women experience heartburn during pregnancy as a natural side effect of hormonal and physical changes. For this reason, avoid acidic foods, or any other food you know that causes digestive distress (such as citrus, spicy foods, heavily seasoned foods or fatty/fried foods). 

Here are some simple snacks to easily store in your to-go bag ahead of time:

  • nuts/trail mix - energizing early labor snacks

  • soup and/or bone broth - nutrient-dense, easy to consume

  • peppermint and ginger tea - nausea

  • honey sticks - sugar spike

  • 80% dark chocolate - energy

  • coconut water and other electrolyte filled drinks -  a very long labor can be compared to running a marathon!

Foods/Drinks to avoid:

  • Orange juice or lemonade - while in active labor it is common for the mother-to-be to vomit, therefore it is best to avoid drinks and food that are very acidic

  • Coffee - caffeine could be useful after a very long labor (dark chocolate, iced black tea) but coffee could affect the mother’s blood pressure, and is also dehydrating, so best to avoid it

It’s also a good idea to pack a snack that you’ve been craving throughout your pregnancy. Many times, if a mother-to-be attempts to eat while in early labor she goes for her favorite “snack” - peanut/almond butter and honey on toast, a smoothie or a fruit popsicle, for example. She probably won’t eat the entire portion, especially if in active labor, but it could be the first thing she’ll want to devour once her baby is in her arms.

Lastly, don’t forget to pack a bottle of champagne (or a six pack of your partner’s favorite beer)! Your baby’s arrival is a cause for celebration!