Birth snacks: what to prepare and pack
My birth doula clients often ask what food they should have ready for their birth. And usually I suggest lots of snacks. And not just snacks for mum, but for her partner too.
This blog post contains my suggested list of things to bring, and why. To me, I see birth as a marathon. And in any extreme physical activity, your body needs preparation and nourishment. So in addition to looking after yourself in your pregnancy and during the lead up to the birth, you’ll want to continue this during labour. Some women find it hard to eat or drink in labour, however I feel it is essential to ensure your body has fuel to keep going.
Essentially you probably want to cover all bases ie: something sweet, salty, healthy and naughty, and don’t forget something to drink! And best of all, if you don’t finish it all during labour, then you have your own food ready and available for your stay at hospital, or for the early days at home.
Please feel free to comment or ask questions below, and let me know what you think.
FOOD FOR LABOUR & BIRTH
It may be difficult to sit down and have a propper meal during labour, and so I like to suggest a variety of snacks to eat to keep your body nourished. I usually suggest to have natural, vegan and unprocessed foods so that your body can focus on birthing rather than digesting. Making sure you have a range of things you personally enjoy, you may like to add the following suggestions to your birth bag:
- Nuts: a selection of raw, roasted, natural and salted - eg you may like to have some raw almonds and some roasted salted cashews. As they are small, you could have a handful at a time.
- Rice crackers: I love the seaweed Sakata ones as they are slightly salty and seaweed had iodine which we many Aussies are deficient in (and is necessary for good thyroid function). Each cracker is roughly the size of a 50c coin so it will fit easily in your mouth and you can choose to have one or two, or ten at a time.
- Dried fruit: I love things like dried figs that are high in fibre and may help to reduce the risk of being constipated post birth. However you may prefer medjool dates, apricots, saltanas, cranberries or anything that is sweet without added/processed sugar
- Trail mix: you may prefer to make your own blended trail mix with nuts, dried fruit, various seeds (like pepitas, sunflower kernels, etc) - and then you have the benefit of many of the above in one mouthful.
- Bliss balls: I often make my own and you can check out this blog here for more details. You can put whatever you like in them, though I usually use a coconut oil base, almond meal, raw cacao, dates and shredded coconut, or I swap out the dates for apricots and the raw cacao for a vegan vanilla protein powder - and mix to taste and desired texture.
- Fresh fruit/vegetables: it can be handy to have fruit at home ready to go, things like bananas or mandarins that are in their own peel and easy to eat are great, or if you’re able to pre-wash some apples, pears, grapes or say blueberries, then these can also be handy to take along. If you’re super prepared, you could have some pre-sliced carrots, cucumber, celery, capsicum etc and a tub of hummus ready to go too. These are high in fibre and nutrients, plus chickpeas are high in protein too.
- Dark chocolate: OK, so this is a little naughty treat, but it can be high in antioxidants, and if it makes you feel good, then it may boost your natural oxytocin levels. A spot of chocolate here and there probably won’t hurt and will hopefully make you happy. There are healthier brands that you can buy, eg Pana chocolate, which is far less processed and less “naughty”.
Of course, this list count be infinite and I’ve seen some partners enjoy eating muesli bars, protein meal replacement bars, packs of salted potato chips and even cuppa soups at births. It’s good to have a range of options available.
DRINKS FOR LABOUR & BIRTH
It’s just as important to drink as well as eat, and while water is great, you may want to boost your electrolytes. These are minerals that are found in body tissues and blood in the form of dissolved salts. As electrically charged particles, electrolytes help move nutrients into and wastes out of the body's cells, maintain a healthy water balance, and help stabilise the body's acid/base (pH) level For example:
- Fresh coconuts: in addition to electrolytes and a great taste, these are high in magnesium too which can be important to help musles relax and recover. It’s much better fresh as when packaged it doesn’t retain the same nutrients, and can be purchased from most fruit and vegetable grocers, supermarkets and healthfood stores. (Note that fresh coconuts can be tricky to open at a hospital! I’ve had clients take in drills, or a cocotap with a chopping board.)
- Hydralyte: this comes in ready to drink liquid packs, or as powder that you mix into water. You can choose from a variety of flavours and it’s available in most chemists and some supermarkets
- Gatorade: this is a ready-made drink that you can buy in bottles from more supermarkets and conveninece stores
- Apple Juice: Diluted apple juice (1 part juice and 2 parts water) can be a great way to introduce some sugars to your body, however it is often processed and with added sugar. Some of my clients have taken some juice boxes with them, and it gives you one more thing to choose to drink during labour, which is handy if you have fussy taste buds.
- Tea/Coffee: Ok so the coffee part is more for the partner supporting you at your birth, however if you have a tea that makes you happy (I have a favourite tea I drink at home and instantly feel relaxed), by all means add a new bags to your birth bag).
About Essential Me
Hi, I'm Amanda. I support women and couples during their pregnancy, birth and postnatal journey as a Doula, Ka Huna massage therapist and Pilates instructor. I'm Based in Sydney and would love to help you. Please check out my Top 10 Tips for the best possible birth experience here. I'd love to meet you for an obligation free interview to see if you feel we're the right fit. Contact me here. Thanks, Amanda x