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Nourishing Foods for Labor


November 30, 2015

Nourishing Foods for Labor -- The Holistic Dietitian

Eating nourishing foods during labor, especially early labor, can provide the energy and strength necessary for the intensive physical work ahead of you. Snacking can also help keep nausea, vomiting, headaches, and exhaustion at bay. During early labor, as anticipation runs high, resist the urge to skip snacks. As you enter more active labor and get closer to pushing, you may naturally lose your appetite. If you do get hungry during active labor, choose small portions that are light and stomach-friendly. Avoid foods and beverages that are sugary, fried, or carbonated.

When it comes to choosing snacks to have on hand for labor, it is best to have a variety. Birth is a very primal, instinctual state, and we should listen to our body to determine the appropriate snacks. If you have a craving for something, eat it (within reason). The key is to choose small portions of easily digestible foods that give long, slow release of energy. Use the lists below for nourishing snacks and beverages to use during labor.

Snack Suggestions

Popsicles: Make you own popsicles with pureed fruit and coconut water. Add a little honey for sweetener.

Fruit and Vegetables: Have a variety of sweet and sour flavors available. Bananas, apples, celery are great go-to options. Pair with almond butter or another nut butter for some protein. Frozen fruits such as grapes, blueberries, and watermelon cubes are great for helping you cool off during the more intense moments.

Bone Broth: A powerhouse of minerals that can ease digestive troubles and may even help ease nausea due to its gelatin content.

Nuts and Dried Fruit: Dates are a form of natural sugar and have calming properties due to their mineral content. Raw, sprouted pumpkin seeds, pecans, almonds, and sunflower seeds are always great options.

Raw Honey Sticks: When you need a pick-me-up. These provide a natural form of sugar with valuable vitamins and minerals as well.

Hard-boiled Eggs: Eggs are great sources of healthy fats and protein that aren’t rough on the stomach.

Energy Bites: Combine 1 cup of old-fashioned oats, 1/2 cup nut butter, 1/2 cup ground flaxseed, 1/3 cup raw honey, 1/2 Tbsp Brewer’s Yeast, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips. Added bonus– These double as lactation cookies!

Deli Meat: Choose organic chicken or turkey breast slices. These are great to roll up as a quick snack.

Peppermints: These are great to combat nausea.

It is easy to get dehydrated during labor. Try taking a sip of something between every contraction ideally, and at a minimum every 15-30 minutes, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Have a cup with a straw and a lid, so that your support-person can easily put it up to your lips every so often.

Beverage Suggestions

Water: You can’t go wrong with plain water. Add a slice of lemon and a pinch of high quality mineral sea salt such as Himalayan sea salt or Celtic sea salt to balance out the potassium you’re receiving from the fruits and coconut water.

Herbal Teas: Red Raspberry Leaf tea helps to tone our uterus and pelvic wall muscles, which is important for labor. Drink warm or iced. Freeze honey-sweetened tea into ice cubes ahead of time.

Bone Broth: I’m adding bone broth in the beverages section as well because you can toss it in a thermos, add a pinch of quality sea salt, and sip on this nourishing broth throughout labor. (Don’t forget to always keep some frozen cubes on hand for postpartum too!)

Coconut Water: High in electrolytes. Just be cautious and select one free of added ingredients or flavors.

Homemade Electrolyte Drink: Mix 3 cups coconut water, 1 cup filtered water, 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice, dash of Celtic sea salt, 2 Tbsp of raw honey, and a few drops of liquid trace minerals. I swear this is what got me through 6-hours of pushing. Yes. Six whole hours.

Fruit Juice: I don’t normally recommended juices because of their high sugar/low fiber content, but hey, labor is a special occasion! Fresh fruit juices provide important minerals such as potassium and magnesium and well as vitamins. Add gelatin or cream to balance out the sugar content.

Smoothies: Blend 1 cup of packed greens with 1 cup of mixed fruits. Add optional ingredients such as chia seeds, flax seeds, almond butter, and coconut oil. Add filtered water or coconut water until desired consistency.

Don’t forget Dad! Have some nutritious snacks like trail mix, homemade granola bars, peanut butter, nuts, fruit. Quick and easy is the key, so he can get back to where he is needed the most– by your side!

Staying well nourished and well hydrated during labor will ensure your energy tank remains full for the endurance required of labor while minimizing the possibility of unnecessary interventions. Just stay focus on the end result, when you can relax as your heart melts over your new little bundle of joy!

What were some of your go-to snacks for labor?

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