What to eat during labour: dietitian recommendations | Nourish with Melanie #32

December 3, 2019 0 By William Morgan


So it’s not long until the day when you get
to welcome your little one into the world. You’ve been stocking up on nappies and you
have your hospital bag ready to go… but have you considered what you’ll need to eat
and drink during labour? With the average first time labour lasting
eight hours, and maybe even up to 18 hours, labour is more of an endurance event than
a sprint for many women, so you’ll want to pack some snacks just in case. Today on Nourish, I’m going to tell you which
snacks to pack, and why. Stay tuned! Hello! Great to see you again! Obviously, the duration of your labour is
different for everyone, but if you’re going to have a longer labour, it’s important to
be prepared with the right foods. One of my sisters is a midwife, and she almost
delivered her first baby in the hallway of the hospital, he came so quickly! Yet, my mother always tells the story that
she was in labour with me for three days! She says that I was determined from the start,
and no matter what the doctors did to induce me, I had made up my mind that I was not coming
out until Father’s Day, and that’s what I did. I know, my poor mum, right?! I have my fingers crossed for you that your
labour will be a quick one, but either way, it pays to be prepared. Traditionally, hospitals discouraged women
from eating and drinking during labour, and yours still might….but the latest research
shows that fasting during labour is completely unnecessary, especially if you have a low
risk labour. In fact, some studies go as so far to suggest
that women who eat and drink during labour may actually have shorter and healthier labours. However, many women don’t feel like eating
or drinking during labour, so remember to listen to your own body, and do the best that
you can. So, if you are going to eat, what’s the best
choices? Well, labour is usually a strenuous and long-lasting
exercise that requires a significant amount of energy, kind of like running a marathon. Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred energy
source to fuel such a strenuous task. Carbohydrate-rich foods are known to help
to reduce fatigue and increase muscle strength, both of which are important during labour. So, if you can fuel your body with carbohydrate-rich
snacks, particularly in the first stages of labour, then it’s probably a good idea. Carbohydrate-rich foods include toast (although
I’d recommend white or wholemeal instead of grainy bread in this instance); fruit, especially
bananas; natural, unbuttered popcorn; dry crackers, breakfast cereal or yoghurt. Secondly, as with any endurance sports, hydration
is very important. You may not feel like drinking, especially
if you are vomiting or have diarrhoea, but it is important to keep your fluids up. Many women become dehydrated during labour,
and that often results in severe constipation soon after delivery. Isotonic drinks and sports drinks like Hydrolyte,
Gatorade or Powerade are a better choice than water because they hydrate your body more
effectively, so I’d recommend throwing a few of them into your hospital bag. Some hospitals offer icy-poles, and again,
even though you may not feel like it, I’d encourage you to suck on one to help keep
you hydrated if you can. At the end of the day, labour is different
for all of us, but if you can, I’d encourage you to snack on some carbohydrate-rich foods,
and regularly sip on sports drinks to help keep you well-fuelled throughout the duration
of your labour. As always, I’m here to answer any of your
dietary questions, so please feel free to post below. I look forward to catching up with you next
week on Nourish