Short on time? Then the key things to know are:
- Eating healthy snacks and staying hydrated is the best way to keep your energy up during labour
- Fruit, veggies, seeds and nuts, breakfast bars, healthy sandwiches and rice crackers are some of the best snacks for labour
- Avoid high fat and sugar foods that can increase nausea and leave you feeling more tired
- Make sure to prepare your snacks in advance and pack them in your hospital bag
- You may be asked not to eat if you are having a c-section, having multiple babies or your baby is in breech position
Whilst definitely worth it in the end, labour is both emotionally and physically tiring. So it’s a good idea to prepare snacks in advance that will give you the nutrients you need until you meet your little one.
Here our pregnancy experts share their top ideas for labour snacks and drinks that will keep you energised from contractions to birth.
The best snacks to take to hospital for labour
Whilst you might not feel peckish during birth, it’s important to prepare food to eat during and after labour. Your body will use up a huge amount of energy during delivery, so consuming the right nutrients can help you to stay alert.
Stocking up on nutritious snacks is also a great idea for once your baby is born. Even if contractions overshadow hunger pains in labour, you’ll likely feel hungry once delivery is over. You’ll also need plenty of snacks to hand in those first few days, whether at hospital or at home.
What is the best food to eat during labour?
It’s important to listen to your body and eat accordingly. However there are certain foods that are better to eat during delivery to help maintain energy levels and limit nausea or sickness.
Good snacks for labour are typically easy to eat and grab, low in sugar and easily digestible. This includes carbohydrates and wholegrains which give a slower release of energy.
With that said, if your energy levels plummet, a quick sugar boost is recommended to avoid your labour slowing down. A few jelly sweets can provide enough sugar to get contractions started again - plus they are very easy to eat and normally appetising if you feel nauseous.
- Eat little and often to sustain energy - avoid heavy meals to limit the likelihood of sickness
- Prepare bite-sized portions that are easy to eat
- Don’t forget your partner! Pack in advance to avoid them having to find snacks in the midst of labour
- Stock up before your due date to ensure you have all the things you know you like
What are the best snacks for labour?
Adding healthy snacks to your hospital bag checklist is a wise step to ensure you have your favourite options to hand.
Here are our favourite labour snacks:
- Fresh fruit such as bananas, chopped mango or berries
- Frozen grapes (stored in the freezer until right before you leave!)
- Veggie sticks such as carrots, cucumber, pepper and celery
- Sandwiches with simple filings e.g. cheese, ham and chicken
- Dried fruit
- Seeds and nuts
- Dips such as hummus or guacamole
- Breakfast bars and oatcakes
- Low-sugar energy bars
- Plain rice cakes that can also help with nausea
- Jelly sweets in case you need a quick sugar boost
- Ice lollies or frozen yoghurt if you can store them somewhere suitable
If you have gestational diabetes, you will need to make some adjustments to the snacks you can eat during and after birth. You should have been referred to a dietitian to support you with food choices and managing your sugar levels. If you have any concerns you can speak to one of our expert midwives here at Naytal.
Need more helping planning for labour? Check out our guide to writing a birth plan.
The best snacks for labour gestational diabetes are:
- Wholemeal pitta bread with hummus
- Fresh vegetables, or fruit in moderation such as berries
- Wholegrain crackers with nut butter or avocado
- Plain or low sugar yoghurt
- Unsalted nuts and seeds
What are the best drinks for labour?
Giving birth is thirsty work so it’s important to stay hydrated. Even if you can’t face food, make sure to keep sipping water or weak squash to increase your fluid intake.
Make sure to avoid fizzy drinks during labour as they may increase nausea. Instead, get an energetic sweet fix from isotonic drinks.
Isotonic drinks are recommended for labour as they are packed with fluids, electrolytes and carbohydrates which can be easily absorbed in one quick sip. This type of sports drink also has similar levels of sugar and salt to the human body and provides an energetic boost during high-intensity activity (of which giving birth definitely is!). You can check whether or not a sports drink is isotonic on the label.
A tip from our founder Leila:
Store a pack of isotonic drinks in the freezer to grab right before you leave for the hospital (if you have a cool bag then this would be ideal). They will stay icy cold for hours and will be welcome and refreshing when you are in the throes of a long labour and need something to replenish your energy!
When shouldn’t I eat during labour?
If you have an elective c-section, you will be given advice in regards to eating and drinking by your midwife or doctor beforehand.
There are also some occasions where eating isn’t recommended during labour if you are at risk of needing a general anaesthetic. This may be because your baby is breech, you are having multiple babies or your labour has been prolonged or distressing to the baby.
If you plan on having an epidural you may also be advised not to eat. Make sure to ask your midwife or doctor in advance.
Don’t worry if you’ve already eaten and this happens; you’ll be able to tell the anaesthetist who can make adjustments.
Get more advice from our team of pregnancy experts at Naytal. Discover our midwife's top tips for coping with labour pain, how to know the difference between trapped wind and contractions and our guide to a vaginal breech birth.
Want to speak to someone about your pregnancy and birth? Book an appointment with one of our lovely midwives at a time that suits you and get specialist advice with any concerns.
Kate, Naytal Midwife
Kate has been a Midwife within the NHS for more than 15 years and supports women to work harmoniously with their bodies and tune into their intuitions.