Is It Safe for You to Eat during Labor?


It is absolutely safe for you to eat during labor (unless you have a medical condition which your doctor says makes it dangerous for you to eat or drink during labor).

For generations, eating during labor (and even drinking!) was prohibited because Mom might inhale the food or liquid into the lungs while under general anesthesia. However, anesthesia has changed and the risks to eating and drinking are now “almost nonexistent.” (source)

According to research presented at the American Society of Anesthesiologists’ 2015 annual meeting:

“…the energy and caloric demands of laboring women are similar to those of marathon runners. Without adequate nutrition, women’s bodies will begin to use fat as an energy source, increasing acidity of the blood in the mother and infant, potentially reducing uterine contractions and leading to longer labor and lower health scores in newborns. Additionally, the studies suggest that fasting can cause emotional stress, potentially moving blood away from the uterus and placenta, lengthening labor and contributing to distress of the fetus.” //

Eat Light

To stay strong, it is okay for a woman to eat during labor.

A heavy meal such as a steak and potatoes is probably not what you’re going to want to eat. There are plenty of foods you can eat to keep your energy levels and fluid intake up to give you energy while not straining your digestion.

Early labor is the best time to eat. Once contractions become more frequent, you probably won’t want to eat anyway.

Load up on carbohydrates that will provide a slow and steady release of energy. If you are feeling nauseated, or simply do not feel like eating during labor, you can nibble on a piece of toast sip on some nourishing chicken broth.

Drinking During Labor

Dehydration depletes energy, slows labor, and upsets your body’s physiology. Drink as much as feels comfortable for you. Additionally, drinking more fluids causes the laboring mother to walk to the bathroom and walking stimulates labor.

If your caregiver determines that you are dehydrated and unable to drink or eat during labor, intravenous fluids may be recommended. If your labor has stalled, the fluids may help.

Mom to be getting ready for labor
What should I eat during labor?

Fruits or small energy-filled snacks such as protein bars will give you an energy boost. Remember to stay hydrated. Food and drink options during labor include, but are not limited to:

  1. Ice cubes
  2. Smoothies
  3. Water
  4. Vitamin water
  5. Juice boxes
  6. Fruits such as berries, oranges, apples and bananas
  7. Nuts and seeds such as pistachios and almonds
  8. Protein bars
  9. Energy bars
  10. Crackers and pretzels
  11. Popsicles
  12. Yogurt
  13. Trail-Mix
  14. Vegetables such as celery sticks and baby carrots
  15. Applesauce
  16. Bagels
  17. Broth
  18. Jell-O
  19. Sandwiches
Postpartum Eating

Congratulations on your new arrival! Now its time to replenish all the fluids your body just lost. At this point, all you may want to do is cuddle with Baby and go to sleep, and that’s okay. Before you do that, though, try drinking some fresh orange juice. If you’re hungry and want something to eat, eat a sandwich or protein bar for an energy boost.

Did you eat or during labor? Do you know anyone who did? What would be your go-to snack?


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