Packing your hospital bag in preparation for giving birth? You might be thinking that the last thing on your mind during labour is food. That is not quite true. Depending on how long your labour goes on for, you may start to get peckish and that could interrupt the flow of your labour. It is a distraction you do not need as you wait for your labour to progress. You might indeed not have the time or the opportunity to have an entire meal but you should certainly pack some snacks for your hospital bag.
The best snacks for your hospital bag do not have to take up too much space. Neither do they have to be messy snacks. Unless you want them to be! They can be sweet or savoury. Healthy or not so healthy. The point is to make sure you have something to nibble on if you need it. Labour is usually hard work. Unless your care providers forbid it, you might be grateful to have some small snacks and fluids to keep your energy up.
I made the mistake of assuming I would be too busy labouring away to consider eating anything. All I packed was a couple of cans of ginger beer. I had to send my husband off to get me something from inside the hospital (I didn’t want him to go too far). All he got that he knew I’d like were a few packs of almond nuts!
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Can I eat during Labour?
Snacking during labour is usually perfectly fine. Snacks or light meals have not been found to affect “obstetric or neonatal outcomes”. For example, snacking during labour has not been found to increase the possibility of nausea or vomiting or the amount of time spent in labour.
Can you drink water while giving birth?
Just like for food, water has not been found to have any detrimental effect on the labouring process. Indeed, some hospitals only allow water consumption during labour.
Check your hospital’s policy for bringing in food during labouring. Some hospitals may not allow anything at all while others allow some snacks as long as they are purchased in the hospital. It differs in various hospitals and in various locations around the world. My hospital, for example, did not appear to have any restrictions on food during labour. I could have brought in more than just ginger beer.
Obviously I wished I’d packed more actual food, not just a few drinks! Luckily for me though, it turned out that it was good I didn’t as I ended up needing an emergency c-section many hours after I had devoured that packet of nuts!
In my case, I was lucky to have had only so little to eat and so long before it was decided that I needed an emergency c-section. You are supposed to have no food or drink for eight hours before a caesarean section. This is to prevent the possibility of any vomiting or lung problems during surgery. If your doctor does not see any reason why you might need a c-section and your hospital allows food during labour, absolutely go armed with some options.
Remember that your partner might get peckish too! The snacks for your hospital bag could help your partner out too. You could also specifically ask them what they would like that you could pack in advance (and that won’t take up too much space in your hospital bag!) and get some options for them too.
Here are some snacks for your hospital bag that will keep you energized during labour.
The Best Snacks to bring to hospital for Labour
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You can pack quite a few of these far in advance of your due date. Others though, you might need to purchase or prepare on the way to the hospital. If you need to keep any of them cool, you can pack them in a lunch bag like this and wrap them in ice packs like these. To keep them warm, there are also insulated wraps or bags that you can purchase.
Choose 5-6 of these for yourself and your partner too, just in case.
- Sparkling water
I found that these helped with the dry mouth and occasional nausea that I experienced while using gas and air. It also refreshed me in a way that still water may have been unable to.
These are nice because they are easily digestible and yummy at the same time. If you want to only pack healthy snacks for your hospital bag, find popsicles that are made from real fruit.
Pickles are good for digestion and also help to balance out your electrolyte levels. They are good options for savoury snacks for labour.
- Coconut water
This could help to combat any nausea you feel while labouring.
- Beef jerky
You might have been avoiding this during pregnancy the same way you probably did any cured meats. However, during labour, some beef jerky could provide you with the protein you need to get over any hunger without eating an entire meal.
These carbohydrates will provide you with the energy you need to go through a long labour process.
Get or make some from wholewheat flour and these could keep you nourished and energized for your entire labour.
- Granola bars
These are a quick and convenient energy source.
- Slices of toast
Spread some nutty butter on these to add an extra shot of protein.
These are convenient, easy to swallow and will give you the protein shot you need for your labour.
- Boiled eggs
Another excellent source of protein that is easy to consume.
- Cheese sticks
Cheese sticks or string cheeses are easy to grab, quick enough to consume and are protein-filled.
Nuts have a high fat content therefore they also provide the high energy you need for labour.
These can be a good energy booster as they are high in fiber and carbs.
- Fruit smoothies
One benefit of these is that they can be made so quickly and easily that you can blend one large jug up on your way out of the house to the hospital.
If you experienced nausea and vomiting at any point in your pregnancy, chances are that you already appreciate the dry nature of this snack. It will be perfect for if you have any nausea during labour as well.
This also contains a sufficient amount of proteins to stave off hunger throughout your labour.
These are so easy to grab and snack on. However, approach them with caution if you intend to eat a whole lot and have not yet confirmed that you are truly in labour. They contain potassium which can start contractions.
- Chicken soup
All soups or broths can provide you with the protein that you need for labour. Not just chicken broth but also beef or any other kinds of meats or even vegetable broths.
- Trail mix
This is a nice variation to plain nuts as you get your dried fruit as well. It should also provide you with enough protein to keep you full for the duration of your labour.
Your hospital will likely allow you to have this. It is made of gelatin and is also good for digestion. Jello-O is also light and easy to consume.
- Rice cakes
You can put some nut butter on these for a protein shot or for some added flavour. Having them dry may also be just what you need when you are nauseous but hungry during labour.
Try to treat your body well during labour by not consuming unhealthy snacks. The best snacks for your hospital bag should nourish you. You need the kinds of snacks that will give you the energy you need to get through the job that is labour and delivery from start to finish.
Happy packing and all the best with your labour!