It's not unusual to be preoccupied with thoughts of your next snack or meal when you're pregnant. And as your due date draws near, you'll definitely want to spend some time thinking about the best foods to eat before labor. Because while that triple bean and cheese burrito might calling your name when those first faint contractions kick in, you could end up regretting that choice while you’re in the middle of active labor.
Even if excitement (and nerves) aren’t exactly stimulating your appetite, it's usually a good idea to eat something before heading to the hospital. “You should eat before you leave since you may not be able to have anything when you’re there,” Dr. Candice Fraser, OB/GYN, tells Romper. “Avoid eating heavy meals as it’s not uncommon to experience nausea during labor.” Remember, the last thing you want to do is puke while you’re pushing.
When you’re looking through your fridge for something to nosh on prior to labor, you should ideally strive to incorporate both protein and carbs into your meal. “The best foods to prep for labor are high in nutrients and easy to digest,” says doula Darcy Sauers. “Foods like avocados, bananas, apples with nut butter, scrambled eggs are all good for labor.” Other foods that you might want to eat include soups or broth with meat or beans for protein, fruit (like bananas and berries), oatmeal, and toast with peanut butter. That way, you’ll have sustained amounts of energy to get you through labor.
But it’s not just about what you eat — what you drink counts, too. “It's really important to stay hydrated as well, so sipping water or coconut water is great,” says Sauers. “Smoothies can be a good option, too.” And stay away from Gatorade, soda, or sports drinks that have artificial colors and flavors.
If a cup of tea would hit the spot right about now, opt for raspberry leaf tea, advises Yamel Belen, a doula and founder of One Love Doula. “Raspberry leaf tea is a uterine toner, and drinking it can help with iron levels, vitamins A & C,” says Belen. “This helps your uterus get stronger for the hard work it’s about to do.”
And if you’re looking for something to safely snack on during labor, you should stick to simple foods. “Pack honey sticks for active labor,” advises Sauers. “This gives you easy-to-digest bursts of natural energy when labor really gets going and it's harder to eat actual foods.” Because once you’re in the hospital, your food options will sadly be few and far between. “Typically in labor, you will be allowed to eat ‘clears,’ or food you can see through, like Jell-O, broth and apple juice,” says Dr. Fraser.
You should always consult with your doctor to see what you can (or can’t) eat, especially if you have any high-risk issues or restrictions on what you can eat during labor. But for most women, eating before labor can help give you the stamina you need to welcome your little one into the world.
Dr. Candice Fraser, M.D., FACOG, an OB/GYN with Your Doctors Online
Yamel Belen, doula and founder of One Love Doula
Darcy Sauers, doula