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Eating in Labor

It is especially important to eat during early labor. You'll need the energy food provides to sustain yourself once active labor begins. As your labor progresses your desire to eat will probably go away as you're hard at work at this point. If it's been several hours since you've had anything to eat, your doula may offer you small bites of food to keep you from burning out.

Don't forget fluids! In early labor drink to thirst. In active labor sip a little water after each contraction. Doulas are great for this, we offer water often !: ) You can also have your partner in charge of this. You won't want to reach for the water bottle so have them put the water near your mouth after each contraction and if you want a drink, take it. You might not feel like drinking water and that is okay, but try to take a sip at least every hour to keep yourself from becoming dehydrated.

Pro tip: STRAWS are wonderful!

Were you told you couldn't eat in labor, or you can only have ice chips? Withholding food in labor became routine because hospitals were afraid of aspiration in the event of a caesarean birth when general anesthesia is administered. Rarely is general anesthesia needed, epidurals are more common. Even with general anesthesia the risk of aspiration is quite low. You can read more evidence based information on this topic here:

You wouldn't run a marathon on an empty stomach and you shouldn't labor on one either. Birth is work and you need the stamina and energy to get to that finish line.

Pack food for dad/partner! They need to eat too. They've been so emerged helping you in labor oftentimes they forget about themselves. Doulas make sure partners are eating too! If you're having a hospital birth be sure to pack protein or granola bars, yogurt or other quick snacks that are easy to eat "on the go".

Pro tip: Leave the beef jerky and Dorito's at home. Your partner doesn't want to smell your breath and her sense of smell is heightened in labor!

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