Food Safety During Pregnancy
So your due date is fast approaching, and it’s time to start packing your hospital bag. You’ve made the ultimate checklist, but don’t forget, labour can be a long and tiring process. Packing hospital bag snacks for during and after labour can be just as helpful as a pair of slippers. Keep reading to learn what foods you might include when prepping your hospital bag snacks.
Can I Eat During Labour?
It used to be thought that food or drinks during labour were dangerous due to the chance of inhaling food or liquid into the lungs. Because of this, expecting moms were only allowed sips of water or ice chips. With new research and better technology, not allowing food and drinks during labour is outdated and not necessary for low-risk pregnancies (1). Not all hospitals are up to date in their policies, so it’s important to contact your local birthing unit to check ahead of time. If you’re choosing a home birth – good news, you get to make the rules!
Foods That Support Labour
Eating may not be easy for some during labour, but having access to food that you enjoy can help create a more positive labour experience (1). Labour is physically and emotionally demanding on the body, and eating will provide energy and promote healing during and after labour (2).
Packing snacks high in carbohydrates and fibre can provide you with more energy for labour and will help to promote healing (1). Fibre (a type of carbohydrate) will help keep you fuller longer and help to relieve and prevent constipation (2,3).
Examples of high-carbohydrate foods:
- Grains such as crackers, oatmeal or muffins
- Fresh or dried fruit
Protein plays a role in rebuilding and repairing muscle and tissues from damage experienced throughout pregnancy and labour (2).
Examples of high-protein foods:
- Nuts & Seeds
Fats can be another excellent energy source during labour. Snacks such as seed or nut butter can be a delicious boost of energy, especially when appetite during labour may be low.
Examples of high-fat foods:
- Nuts and seeds
- Nut butter
Staying hydrated during labour is important. It can help prevent urinary tract infections, headaches, constipation, and can assist in breast milk production (2).
Hospital Bag Snack Ideas
Non-perishable snacks you can add to your hospital bag in advance.
- Dried fruit
- Nuts and Seeds
- Nuts: Almonds, Walnuts or Cashews
- Seeds: Pumpkin, Sunflower, Chia, Flax (ground) or Hemp
- Roasted Chickpeas
- Trail mix
- Rice cakes
- Granola Bars
- Milk cookies or Milk tea
- If you are planning to breastfeed, these can help support milk supply
- Prepackaged or homemade packets (ask health care providers for hot water and a bowl)
- Whole Wheat crackers or Pitas
- Coconut Water
- Sport Drinks
- Squeezable Applesauce
Perishable snacks can be made ahead of time and frozen or stored in the fridge. If there is time, they can be grabbed on your way out the door.
- Carrots, Celery, Tomatoes, Peppers, Cucumbers
- Pears, Apples, Berries, Bananas
- Very versatile to either dip your vegetables or spread on crackers
- Milk Cookies (homemade)
Final Notes from The Nest
There is not much research on nutrition during labour, but packing snacks in your hospital bag is an excellent way to prepare for labour and recovery. Try planning ahead to have some non-perishable snacks packed and ready-to-go, and if there’s time for some perishable snacks, grab those on your way out the door!
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- Singata M, Tranmer J, Gyte G. Restricting oral fluid and food intake during labour. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews [Internet]. 2013 [cited 31 March 2021].Available from: https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD003930.pub3
- Morrow J, Susie C, Harkins C. A Faster Postpartum Recovery | American Pregnancy Association [Internet]. American Pregnancy Association. 2020 [cited 31 March 2021]. Available from: https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/first-year-of-life/postpartum-recovery-2-76633/
- Whitney, E., Rolfes, S.R., Hammond, G., & Piche, L.A. Understanding nutrition. 2nd ed. Toronto, ON: Nelson Education Ltd.