According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists, without proper nutrition, women’s bodies will start using fat as an energy source and increase the acidity of blood in both infant and mother, likely decreasing uterine contractions. It can also lead to lower newborn health scores and more prolonged labor. Moreover, research suggests that fasting can induce emotional stress, potentially pushing the blood away from the placenta and uterus, causing more prolonged labor and distress to the fetus.
Labor and birth require both endurance and hard physical work. Women burn tons of calories during delivery and need loads of calorie intake to replenish their immense energy expenditure. While the pregnant uterus is among the human body’s strongest muscles, it still works best when sustained with an abundance of hydration and fuel.
While recent evidence hints at some benefits for women with low-risk pregnancies eating during labor, most hospitals implement a protocol restricting you to only ice pellets and water. If so, it’s better to plan ahead of time for what could best fuel your body during presumably the most challenging workout of your lifetime.
We say workout because, according to studies, the caloric and energy demands of women in labor are the same as those of professional marathon runners.
Keep Your Food Simple and Easy to Digest
When a woman is in labor, they redirect lots of their energy and resources into doing labor and chooses not to waste valuable calories on non-essential processes such as digestion, which will considerably slow down. Consider picking food, much like the type of food you might choose when sick from the flu or a cold.
It’s better to stock on foods that you find tasty and delicious, are relatively bland, don’t cause bloating, give you lots of energy, and easy to digest.
Easy to eat, easy to prepare, and nothing too greasy or spicy are great things to bear in mind, just if you’ll feel nauseated or vomit during labor.
Fruits such as melons, bananas, assorted berries, grapes, and those “easy on your stomach” are great to have with you. There are lots of full-of-flavor fruits to choose from, especially during the summer season. Have them cut up into bite-size portions that are all good to go, making things easier for you and your companions during labor.
Some pregnant women even find some fruits such as grapes, frozen berries, and other ready-made fruits to be a soothing, refreshing treat during labor. Smoothies are a great way of consuming the fruit, and you can even have yours added with some protein powder for an additional boost.
Brown rice, oatmeal, multigrain bread or crackers, and whole-wheat pasta are excellent fiber sources and offer carbohydrates that provide women with energy during long-drawn labor. These usually make a great combination with a protein source in making a nutritious meal.
Consider cooking up a massive pot of chicken noodle soup you can have later during labor. This early labor duty can keep you busy and make you more prepared when your labor starts.
Quick Energy Resources
Bear in mind to bring with you a couple of very easy-to-digest energy resources that you can swiftly snack on in between your contractions. These simple carbohydrates will provide you with a swift burst of energy while you’re getting ready to birth your baby.
Example favorites are the single-serve “energy gets” and honey sticks available in various exciting flavors similar to those that marathoners consume during races. You can eat these when you’re pushing to help you gain and grasp the energy for that second push.
Consider having with you several excellent sources of protein to snack on during your labor. Protein shakes, cheese, yogurt, and nut butter will all easily go down and provide your body with the much-needed protein to aid you through your hard work. If you’re giving birth in a place that doesn’t give you access to a refrigerator, try to bring a cooler along with a couple of ice packs to keep the perishable food at a regulated temperature.
How to Choose Your Labor Drinks
Same with eating, it’s also essential to stay hydrated during labor, although physicians often tend to use IV fluids. Take regular sips of your favorite miso soup, sports energy drink, or juice (diluted if required when taking in full strength is too strong) to help you remain hydrated and maintain effective work of your contractions.
You might have to avoid sports drinks with high fructose corn syrup and artificial food dyes, or you can also make a simple, homemade drink you make in advance to have an available “labor-ade.” Coconut water, a super beverage, can also provide you with the much-needed electrolytes. Pour your liquids in a sports water bottle to make them easier to drink no matter what your labor position is.