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What You Need to Know about Eating During Labor

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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).

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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).

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By: Justine LoMonaco


From the moment my daughter was born, I felt an innate need to care for her. The more I experienced motherhood, I realized that sometimes this was simple―after all, I was hardwired to respond to her cries and quickly came to know her better than anyone else ever could―but sometimes it came with mountains of self-doubt.

This was especially true when it came to feeding. Originally, I told myself we would breastfeed―exclusively. I had built up the idea in my mind that this was the correct way of feeding my child, and that anything else was somehow cheating. Plus, I love the connection it brought us, and so many of my favorite early memories are just my baby and me (at all hours of night), as close as two people can be as I fed her from my breast.

Over time, though, something started to shift. I realized I felt trapped by my daughter's feeding schedule. I felt isolated in the fact that she needed me―only me―and that I couldn't ask for help with this monumental task even if I truly needed it. While I was still so grateful that I was able to breastfeed without much difficulty, a growing part of me began fantasizing about the freedom and shared burden that would come if we bottle fed, even just on occasion.

I was unsure what to expect the first time we tried a bottle. I worried it would upset her stomach or cause uncomfortable gas. I worried she would reject the bottle entirely, meaning the freedom I hoped for would remain out of reach. But in just a few seconds, those worries disappeared as I watched her happily feed from the bottle.

What I really didn't expect? The guilt that came as I watched her do so. Was I robbing her of that original connection we'd had with breastfeeding? Was I setting her up for confusion if and when we did go back to nursing? Was I failing at something without even realizing it?

In discussing with my friends, I've learned this guilt is an all too common thing. But I've also learned there are so many reasons why it's time to let it go.

1) I'm letting go of guilt because...I shouldn't feel guilty about sharing the connection with my baby. It's true that now I'm no longer the only one who can feed and comfort her any time of day or night. But what that really means is that now the door is open for other people who love her (my partner, grandparents, older siblings) to take part in this incredible gift. The first time I watched my husband's eyes light up as he fed our baby, I knew that I had made the right choice.

2) I'm letting go of guilt because...the right bottle will prevent any discomfort. It took us a bit of trial and error to find the right bottle that worked for my baby, but once we did, we rarely dealt with gas or discomfort―and the convenience of being able to pack along a meal for my child meant she never had to wait to eat when she was hungry. Dr. Brown's became my partner in this process, offering a wide variety of bottles and nipples designed to mimic the flow of my own milk and reduce colic and excess spitting up. When we found the right one, it changed everything.

3) I'm letting go of guilt because...I've found my joy in motherhood again. That trapped feeling that had started to overwhelm me? It's completely gone. By removing the pressure on myself to feed my baby a certain way, I realized that it was possible to keep her nourished and healthy―while also letting myself thrive.

So now, sometimes we use the bottle. Sometimes we don't. But no matter how I keep my baby fed, I know we've found the right way―guilt free.


This article is sponsored by Dr. Browns. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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Learn + Play

"Baaa-beee Shark! Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo, Baby Shark! Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo, Baby Shark! Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo, Baby SHARK!..." Just when you got that song out of your head, something triggers it again, and, doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo… Baby Shark comes floating right back.

It follows you everywhere—to the store, to the bathroom, to bed. When you wake up in the morning, it doesn't take much to trigger its return—especially if you're still tired. And no matter how hard you try to unhear it, it just won't spare you another verse.

All of this happens for a reason—we are wired to learn by repetition throughout our life.

It may make some of these refrains a bit sweeter to know that the part of the brain that helps your baby learn to talk is the same part at work when you get a song stuck in your head. Called the Language Acquisition Device (LAD), it is the theoretical section of the brain thought to account for children's instinctive ability to acquire and produce language. As adults, we retain these LADs to enable us to learn things like a musical instrument or a second language.

In the LAD part of the brain, input, or what is heard, is processed through vocalization and repetition, which turns it into output, or the process that lays down neural networks and commits information to memory. This is why as parents we naturally reinforce the sounds our baby makes with intonation (melody), exaggeration, and repetition, "often reacting to early vocalizations as if they were intended to communicate something, responding in ways that are thought to promote communicative development," according to Snow and Ferguson.

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When you get a song stuck in your head, it's called Involuntary Musical Imagery (INMI). Just like when your baby sings and makes sounds and you echo them and add words to activate their LAD, INMI is your own LAD being stimulated, producing the output necessary to process information and store it as a memory as if you were learning something new like a second language, or in this case, the song repeating in your head. ...Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo.

Humans are the only species to have language and sing.

There is anthropological evidence that homo sapiens sang (non-linguistic vocalizations) before speaking, according to anthropologist Frank B. Livingstone in Current Anthropology. The evolutionary basis for how we are wired to acquire language can explain why both unique capabilities work in concert when it comes to the LAD.

Neurologists have discovered that music is processed in the same area of the brain as language. Based on this, researchers "have hypothesized that by engaging and stimulating the LAD, a song may act as an activator or strategy in the development of language," from infancy to adulthood. And in learning language, infant vocalizations resemble singing more than speech. So when we naturally adjust the way we speak and sing to infants and small children we are actually teaching them to speak.

In a study out of Western Washington University, it was found that if a song continued to play in someone's head immediately after listening to it, that song was likely to return as an intrusive song within the next 24 hours. Hello, Baby Shark.

Additionally, it was discovered that intrusive songs return during times of low cognitive activities that require less problem solving, thinking and reasoning (when the output can more likely be processed), like folding laundry or spacing out when you are overtired. A-hem. ...Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo.

It was found that the opposite can happen, too. Overloading our brains with challenging activities, like grocery shopping with toddlers or actively trying to block a song out of your head, can increase the frequency of that intrusive song as well. This can be explained by the Ironic Process Theory, where attempts to suppress a thought actually can cause an increase in the frequency of that thought.

Consciously attempting not to think about something is a mental control strategy known as thought suppression. This strategy can be successful under certain conditions, but it often promotes an increase in the accessibility of the thought to our consciousness. In other words, this theory suggests that if you consciously try not to think about Baby Shark, by thinking about it, an unconscious, automatic search for the song ironically results in a failure to not not think about it, producing the very state of mind you least desire.

This happens especially during times of stress, distraction, time urgency, or other mental load (...um, parenting). And this can be extrapolated to other parts of your life, not just Baby Shark. ... Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo.

So, basically, your attempts to gain mental control may actually create the unwanted mental state you were trying to avoid. (Fun fact: this happens more to women than men.)

Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo.

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Life

If there's one item that people claim is *so* worth the price-tag, it's a Dyson vacuum. The cordless tools have become essentials in homes, cleaning up messes quickly, all without the hassle of a cord.

If you've avoided purchasing one because of the high cost, you're in luck! They're having a sale on Amazon right now. Some of the most popular vacuums and air purifiers are up to 40% off.

Dyson Cyclone V10 Lightweight Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner, $379.99

dyson vacuum on sale

Arguably the most popular of the Dyson family, and marked down 20%.

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Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Beyoncé's new Netflix documentary Homecoming hit the streaming service today and gives us an honest look at how difficult her twin pregnancy was.

"My body went through more than I knew it could," she says in the film, revealing that her pregnancy with Sir and Rumi was a shock right from the beginning, and the surprises kept coming.

In the film she reveals that her second pregnancy was unexpected, "And it ended up being twins which was even more of a surprise," she explains.

Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé | Official Trailer | Netflix

The pregnancy was rough. Beyoncé developed preeclampsia, a condition that impacts about 5 to 8% of pregnancies and results in high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the mother's urine. Preeclampsia poses risks to both the mother and the baby. People who are pregnant with multiples, like Beyoncé was, are more at risk to develop preeclampsia, and the only real cure for the condition is to give birth, which proved to be another medical challenge for Beyoncé.

"In the womb, one of my babies' hearts paused a few times so I had to get an emergency C-section," she shares in the film.

Thankfully, Beyoncé made it through her extremely difficult pregnancy, but the physical challenges didn't end there. The road to rehabilitation for the performer was difficult because, as she explains, she was trying to learn new choreography while her body was repairing cut muscles and her mind just wanted to be home with her children.

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"There were days that I thought I'd never be the same. I'd never be the same physically, my strength and endurance would never be the same," Beyoncé recalls.

We know that becoming a mother changes us in so many ways, and in Homecoming, Beyoncé shows the world the strength that mothers possess, and rejects any ideas about "bouncing back."

Becoming a mother is hard, but it is so worth it, and Beyoncé isn't looking backward—she's looking at a mother in the mirror and loving who and what she sees. "I just feel like I'm just a new woman in a new chapter of my life and I'm not even trying to be who I was," Beyoncé said in the documentary. "It's so beautiful that children do that to you."

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News

Warmer weather is finally here, mama—and that means it's time to switch up the family's wardrobes. 🙌 If you love matching with your little, or are determined to *finally* get those family photos made this spring or summer, we're obsessed with these mommy and me matching sets.

Here are some of our favorite mommy and me matching outfits for spring. 😍

1. Ivy City Co Jumpsuits, $42.00-$62.00

mommy and me matching jumpsuits

This linen set is perfect for transitioning from hanging out at home to dressing up for days out. Plus, plenty of space for growth!

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2. Madewell x crewcuts Denim Set, $55.00 and up

mommy and me matching denim set

We're obsessed with the '90s vibes these sets give. Now to decide which to choose—denim jacket, shorts, or dress?

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3. Old Navy Floral Midi Dresses, $10.00-$22.50

Old navy mommy and me matching dresses

Nothing says spring quite like florals. The whimsical prints are dainty and the rayon fabric is breathable for those warmer days. Shop mama's version here.

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4. PatPat Matching Family Swimwear, $19.99 and up

matching family swimwear

Match with the entire family with this pinstripe set. We love the one shoulder look, too!

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5. Keds x Rifle Paper Co Sneakers, $44.95-$79.95

mommy and me matching shoes

Twin with your little in these embroidered canvas sneakers. Bonus points for a rubber outsole so no slipping. 👏Shop the version for mama here.

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6. Lily Pulitzer Shift Dresses, $58.00-$198.00

Lilly pulitzer matching dresses

Still not sure what to wear for Easter or that summer soirée? Pick up these matching shift dresses for the most beautiful family photos. Shop mama's version here.

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7. Maisonette x marysia Swimwear, $57.00 and up

Mommy and me matching swimwear

These are definitely splurge-worthy, but we can't get over how adorable they pair together.

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8. PatPat Gingham Dresses, $17.99-23.99

mommy and me matching gingham dresses

These will be your go-to pick for every outing this spring and summer.

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9. Old Navy Striped Oxford Shirts, $13.00-$22.00

matching striped oxford shirts

A relaxed oxford is a staple in everyone's closet. It's versatile enough to dress up or pair with denim for a more laid back look. Shop mama's version here.

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10. Pink Chicken Garden Dress, $72.00-$198.00

pink chicken matching garden dress

Whether you have a spring wedding to attend or want something flowy to wear for vacation, we adore these garden dresses. Bonus points for working for maternity wear, too.

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Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

You might also like:

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