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Food & Drink during labour

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It used to be thought that eating during labour was a bad idea and only energy-boosting liquids were allowed, but that view has changed in recent years. It is fine in normal labour to eat light healthy snacks as you go to keep up your spirits and energy. It’s a good idea to plan out in advance what you think you’ll want so you have it on hand when the time comes. As always, our Careline team is happy to help answer your questions.

How eating during labour builds up your energy

Unless you’re a regular marathon runner, you’ll probably be burning up more energy during labour than at any other time in your life. Try and build up your reserves while you’re in early labour by having little snacks frequently or when you feel so inclined. Once your contractions become stronger you’ll probably find you’re not that hungry anyway.

What can I have to eat?

  • It’s recommended that you go for foods with complex carbohydrates which give a slow release of energy, such as wholegrain bread, crisp breads, rice cakes, rice, dried fruit, bananas and cereal bars.
  • You can also have clear broths, milky puddings, low fat yoghurts, and cooked fruits like apple sauce. Avoid acidic fruit juice flavours like orange or grapefruit.
  • For quick energy, try a spoonful of honey or sweet tea. But avoid having too much sugar – after the initial rush of energy wears off you can start to feel quite low.

What can I have to drink?

Being in labour is thirsty work, so make sure you drink plenty of water to keep you well hydrated throughout. You can also add lemon to the water, or try juices such as apple or mango. Some herbal teas with a dash of honey are delicious too and the natural sweetness in the honey will give you a boost.

Fizzy drinks and fruit juices, such as orange and grapefruit, are not a good idea because they contain a lot of acid which can make you feel sick. Some hospitals recommend sports drinks designed for athletes instead, because they’re quickly absorbed and give you instant energy.

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