Food & drink in labour
Eating is especially important during early labour because it will keep up your strength and provide you with the energy you’re going to need. You may naturally no longer wish to eat once you enter more active labour and get closer to pushing.
Besides the stress factors, restricting food intake during labour can lead to a ketosis state which is when the body starts to break down its own fatty stores for energy. Ketosis is your body's natural response to any prolonged physical activity, such as labour, which results in you using more energy than you’re taking in. Ketosis can lead to nausea, vomiting and headaches, in addition it can lead to inefficient uterine action and increase the need for active management of the birth of your baby.
If you are hungry during active labor, make sure you eat small portions of easily digested foods that you know you like. Choose foods that are light and do not overload the stomach. Food takes longer to digest during labour, since blood flow is concentrated on your womb rather than your stomach. This means that you’re more likely to vomit if you’ve had a large meal. Complex carbohydrates are better choices to eat during labour rather than sugary, fatty or fried foods.
Drinking water during labour is beneficial but an isotonic drink might be a better choice. Many women find it quite difficult to eat during labour and an isotonic drink will provide carbohydrates, minerals & electrolytes to help keep the body chemistry balanced and give you an energy boost just when you need it.
Isotonic sports drinks that you buy may contain chemicals and additives that are best avoided. You can however, make up your own ahead of time and freeze it. Just be sure to try it first to make sure you like it!
Food and drink to enjoy:
Whole fruits such as apple/pears/plums
Complex carbohydrates such as wholemeal toast with marmite or miso, or wholemeal sandwiches with your favourite filling
Pregnancy Food Company brownies, flapjacks, and nourish balls
Homemade isotonic drink
Wholemeal foods and fruit will help maintain energy levels, but also allow for easy digestion and therefore less likely to cause sickness.
Its a good idea to plan some favourite healthy foods ahead of time. Having favourite food and drink to enjoy during labour will help with relaxation, and bring some familiarity to the process.