What You Need to Know about Eating During Labor

4 tips for the hungry birther.

What You Need to Know about Eating During Labor

I do not like to be hungry. I'm not the kind of girl who gets a little “peckish.” I get lightheaded, irritable and dramatic about every two hours, so I snack constantly. My labor was no exception.

But here's the thing: women have traditionally been told not to eat or drink during labor due to concerns that, should they need to go under general anesthesia, they'd inhale their stomach contents into their lungs, running the risk of choking in it or getting pneumonia. So needless to say, my ongoing requests to get mango slices or a smoothie started a battle with my L&D nurses and pretty much everyone on the floor.


Yet, research has shown that restricting women to water or ice chips during labor can make them run out of fuel, which can then lead to complications and more medical interventions. Restrictive diets can be especially dangerous for diabetic mothers who, even more so than the rest of us, need to keep their blood sugar at a stable level.

So what can you do to keep your energy up during labor without putting yourself at risk? The official word from the American Society of Anesthesiologists is that low risk mothers can, in fact, eat light meals during labor! So throw the ice chips out the window and get ready to advocate for yourself (and your appetite).

Here are are 3 tips that every hungry laboring moms should keep in mind.

1. Eat early: Most unplanned C-sections will occur after labor is already well underway, assuming that you have no complications. Fortunately, going into labor is a much less dramatic affair than it is on TV, and the first few hours may be relatively quiet. With no way of knowing if you'll be in labor for hours or days (seriously), my advice would be to take advantage of the downtime. As soon as you think you're having contractions for real, eat something nourishing and take a nap. That's pretty much my go-to advice for everything, come to think of it.

2. Tell your birth team: Make sure your doctor (and your doula, if you have one) know that you want to eat during labor. They can help you curate a menu that will be the least likely to cause any issues and that will work with any special conditions you have. They’ll also give you some reassurance that you’re not a high-risk patient (or at least a heads up if you are) and will want to know if your belly’s going to be any fuller in the case of surgery.

3. Avoid foods that are high in fat. A big meal can wind up coming back to haunt you as your contractions get more intense -- more than one mom has reported throwing up during labor. So resist the temptation to take a final drive through for one last Happy Meal before baby’s grand entrance. Instead, opt for bland but sustaining foods, like toasts with jam or a small scoop of plain pasta. Popsicles and sorbets are also a great snack during labor -- they’re full of water and, if made with fruits, of vitamins. So they will keep you hydrated and give you a jolt of energy.

4. Favor clear fluids: The hospital will provide you with a wide variety of clear foods to eat if you have an extended stay. During my induction I got water, apple juice, yellow Jell-O (red was off limits for some reason) and chicken broth. I added coconut water for the electrolyte boost and ginger ale for comfort (as well as some dried mangoes and walnuts).

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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What you need to know about President Trump's Supreme Court pick

The President has reportedly selected his third SCOTUS nominee.

President Donald Trump has chosen his third pick for the Supreme Court—and he picked a mom.

The New York Times reports President Trump is choosing Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee. An official statement is scheduled for Saturday.

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