Eat, Drink, and Be Merry in Labor (Wait, Scratch #3...)

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry in Labor (Wait, Scratch #3...) 1In a news release, dated 5-19-2008, the American College of Nurse-Midwives announced clinical guidelines for "oral nutrition" (eating and drinking) during labor. Essentially, a team from ACNM reviewed research related to providing oral nutrition to women in labor and "concluded that drinking and eating during labor can provide women with the energy they need and should not be routinely restricted." 

Similarly, a study conducted in the UK (published in May 2007) found that, "Women permitted to eat low-fat, low-residual foods during labor were no more likely than women who received only water to have labor, delivery, or neonatal complications." In fact, "women who ate rated their overall labor experience as significantly better than that of women who were only allowed to drink water." You can read the full story - Light Eating During Labor Won't Raise Complication Risk - on the Ob.Gyn News site.

The hospital where I delivered had the outdated policy that women should not be allowed to eat or drink during labor (ironically, ice chips were permitted, but water? No way!...). In the end, the very last thing that was on my mind was food (Imagine wanting to eat a piece of pizza when you just broke your leg...). In mid-labor - about 7 hours after contractions started -  I did ask for some juice because I figured it might give me some energy. My nurse kindly said that was against hospital policy - despite the fact that I didn't have an IV! Fortunately, my doctor ended up intervening and instructing the nurse to give me some juice (which did help, by the way).

Here's what you need to know about eating and drinking in labor:

  • Talk to your caregiver and birth place about their policies about food and drink during labor. It's important to note here that midwives are generally more open to this than OB's. Similarly, birth centers will likely be less restrictive than hospitals. It is also important to point out that your labor choices and the way that your labor plays out will affect your caregiver's recommendations. For example, guidelines will vary dramatically if you plan to have a C-section, epidural, or narcotics of any kind.
  • If you won't be allowed to eat, ask if you can bring popsicles, hard candies, or Preggie Pops with you. 
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry in Labor (Wait, Scratch #3...) 2Speaking of Preggie Pops, did you know that Three Lollies (the company behind the little pops and drops that help to ward off morning sickness) recently came out with an organic version? The organic drops come in 3 flavors: Sour Lemon, Sour Raspberry, and Green Apple. These drops can be used to keep nausea and "dry mouth" at bay during labor, and to give you a little bit of energy when it is waning. I haven't personally tried these drops, but I plan to stick a box in my "hospital bag" (which will be a "birth center bag...") when we get pregnant with #2.     

YOUR TURN: Did you eat/drink during labor? Why/why not? Share your experience!     

WIN IT! There will be two winners. Each winner will receive three boxes of Organic Preggie Pop Drops. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post prior to Friday, May 30 at midnight (don’t forget to follow the rules). The winner will be announced and contacted on Saturday, May 31. * Winner must provide a U.S. mailing address. 

*UPDATE* The winners are #55 Kari Follett and #71 Sarah. Congratulations!

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87 comments on “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry in Labor (Wait, Scratch #3...)”

  1. I was at a hospital where the policy was no food or drink while in labor. During my labor I became horribly hungry to the point of having stomach pains. I was denied food and found it horrible to have to push when my stomach was hurting so bad. It was terrible. Right after my daughter arrived, I was finally able to eat. My mom had went to Denny's to get me breakfast. Needless to say I ate three eggs, two pieces of toast, 1 ham slice, two side dishes of hash browns and a bowl of fruit. All within 10 minutes. I think if your hungry you should be allowed to eat. Its obvious your body knows what it wants and having your stomach hurting on top of labor pains is not fun.

  2. I wish I knew about these when I had my babies. 36 hours of labor and I wasn't allowed to eat anything.

  3. When I had Mikayla I ate during the day but after I got to the hospital I did not want to eat anything. With Lily after I got to the hospital I had a horrible dry mouth and was craving some juice. Nope - but hard candy was ok but no one had any. Finally the nurse found me some gym. What gives hard candy ok but not juice???

  4. During my first labor it was the hospital ice chips, but with my last 3 I had visitors bring me Sonic ice!

  5. I didn't eat dinner the night before I had my first child, this time, there is no way I'm going to that hospital without eating, I was starving!

  6. I'm anxious to try these to ward off morning sickness, and I just found out that now would be a good time to stock up with one on the way! I had a few samples of these that I received just before my little girl was born, but by the time we got to the hospital I was a bit overwhelmed and never thought to grab them - food was the last thing on my mind!

  7. I labored through the night, ended up having an emergency section, and I had nothing to eat or drink, with the exception of the ice chips my husband fetched for me. I didn't actually feel hungry, just a little parched and the ice chips did the trick.
    My sister is newly pregnant with her second and is suffering from the most dreadful nausea, I'd like to ship her a few packs of these preggie pops!

  8. My husband and I will be having our first baby at the end of September. I have to admit the entire experience is new and terrifying for us. Any tips and hints are welcomed. These would probably be a life saver.

  9. During my first labor, it was Thanksgiving, so they brought me a full tray!! I threw it all up with 15 minutes! The second time went pretty fast, but they wouldn't even allow me to drink water. I would like to try these! cookiecutetr72 AT hotmail dot com

  10. No eating for me- I was induced with cirvadil (sp?) the night before they were inducing me- this was 5pm the night before my son was born- the nurses said no eating. During labor I ate nothing but ice chips--- early on they let me SIP apple juice- after 13 hours of labor and 9 1/2 cm. dialated they desided to do a c-section. I agreed- not being a doctor-- to the c-section.

    During my 13 hours of labor I knew that all I wanted after giving birth was a glass of champeign and sushi--- with a c-section I could have neither for DAYS!!!!

    Thank you for the chance to win!!!

  11. I used the preggie pops suckers with #3 and they were wonderful dealing with the first trimester nausea. My sister is dealing with it now so I'd love to win these for her!

  12. I have yet to go into labor as I am pregnant with my first. This post however has given me some great questions to ask my OB. I hope to be able to have a little something during labor.

  13. I had some ice chips during labor and started sucking on a blow pop at one low point--- that really gave me a boost to keep going.

  14. So barbaric to starve us! Hmm, take away a laboring woman's food, drink, privacy, comfort, individuality, choices, confidence, etc = Benz for the OB and scars for us. Grrr

  15. I wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything once I got to the hospital. My doctor actually suggested I eat something before I arrive, which helped. I've heard of the preggie pops before, so cool they've come out with an organic version. very hip!

  16. I had a little bit of juice and crackers with number one and threw it all back up when I was in transition ;) In number two I just had water and ice chips but when they were literally sticking me back up and checking on the new baby I just delivered I had my husband go down and get me fries and a turkey sandwhich...which I happily snarfed down on the labor bed ;)

  17. Great for Moms or even for Pop
    Anyone could enjoy an Organic Preggie Pop Drop!
    I'm tempted to lapse Dr. Suess-like!

  18. I have never heard of these before now. I learn so much from your blog. My daughternlaw is expecting and I am sure she could use these.

  19. oh these look and sound great. I so could have used them with both my labors and expect the same next time around. please enter us. thanks

  20. I think it's ridiculous not to allow women to eat or drink during labor. I would like these for a friend.

  21. I'm not sure if I was allowed to eat & drink during labor, but I don't remember doing either. Something tells me I just wasn't in the mood for it. I was also very tired, so I spent my epidural time snoozing instead of snacking ;)

  22. My wife was only given ice chips both times. And the first labor was 22 hours! Needless to say, she was starved and exhausted in the end.

  23. My sister had the preggie pops when she had my neice and she said that they are amazing! I am due with my daughter in August and I've literally been sick the whole pregnancy, so I doubt that labor and delivery is going to make it better. It would be great to at least give these a try and see if they may help.

  24. i went 26 hours without eating so i had no energy when it came time to push with ethan!!
    these would be cool to win for my expecting bf!
    moore.g at

  25. My delivery lasted a total of 45 minutes, from water breaking and contractions starting to a little girl accidentally on the living room floor. Fun memories! Anyway, I think that if I had had a long labor I would have wanted to eat. My sister in law is also pregnant now and I get to be her coach, yeah! But I plan on sneaking in snacks and gatorade for her labor at the hospital.

  26. I don't have a baby yet but at the hospital I work at, there is also a policy of no eating or drinking while in labor

  27. Although (and a lot of readers may hate me for this one) each of my labors (the longest being 1 hour and 21 minutes)was short, the hospital didn't allow me to eat or drink either; not until shortly after labor did they tell me I needed to drink and pass urine before being able to see and carry my first one (that was also 15 years ago today).

    This is a uniquely cool contest that I'd like to win!!!!

  28. Yeah, that policy pretty much sucks. I'm sure it's because the hospital has to do some CYA in case you need a C-section, and you're not supposed to eat before major surgery. I would have loved some juice!

  29. Hospital policy was no eating, but I snuck a few granola bars in. My labor didn't last too long so I never got a chance to eat them. I was surprised when the nurse told me it was almost time to push since I wasn't too uncomfortable. I had an unmedicated hypnobirth, but didn't practice much so I'm not sure how much the CD helped. I think it's awful that they expect women to labor for hours and then push without having any energy from eating food. Childbirth is like a freaking marathon. At least some gatorade please!

  30. I had to have a scheduled c-section so I didn't have to deal with these issues, but I feel the choice should always be the patients! These pops were great during the first tirmester!

  31. I did eat right before my first labor even though the nurse told me not eat that morning. I was induced and I did regret it because when my contractions got really bad I seen my breakfast for the second time. I was allowed to have ice chips which did help some. My second labor went by fast and i also had ice chips. I think I would have more energy if they had given me something to drink.
    Overall I think that women should be given the choice if the would like to eat or drink. Thanks for the giveaway!

  32. I was lucky and went with a practice of midwives, you might have seen them if you’ve ever watched TLC’s “A Baby Story”. They are the midwives that you see deliver at the Hackettstown Community Hospital in NJ.

    Anyway, I did drink, but didn't eat during labor, as it was kinda short. My hospital bag was packed with great, easy to eat snacks, like vanilla wafers and graham cracker sticks; yah know something that your coach can just pop in your mouth as you are laboring. I also packed Gatorade.

    I don’t know how other maternity floors are, but at you can store stuff in the fridge/freezer at the hospital I was at. The midwives also suggested bringing water ice, which I didn’t, but it sounds great, huh?! Also that fridge was packed with various drinks, apple juice, prune juice, water, etc in case you forget yours.

  33. With #1 I had part of a Popsicle and water. The hospital allows any clear liquid, even Sprite, I couldn't imagine wanting Sprite but I have a friend who drank it the entire time she was in labor. I don't remember being hungry or wanting to eat until afterwards then bring it on!

    With #2 things went incredibly fast. The nurse in the LD triage was trying to convince me I would want an IV b/c labor is hard la la la. I said I'll be fine with water. (All this during contractions with unstoppable urge to push mind you). Next contraction my water broke and the midwife (here midwifes only staff the triage then mysteriously disappear) the midwife says "We don't have time for that!" to the nurse. Long story short I finally I got some ice chips as I was pushing out my girl! (that was only about 10 minutes after the water broke)

  34. I can't imagine having eaten during my first labor; I was throwing up the whole time, and then I started pushing! But for the second, the hospital provided popsicles. My OB/GYN's nurse had said not to eat anything, which my doctor told me AFTER the fact was incorrect. So I was unnecessarily starving, but quite enjoying the gazillion and a half yummy popsicles I ate! Preggie Pop Drops are awesome; I didn't have them during labor, but during pregnancy I loved them to pieces.

  35. my labors have all been pretty fast, so I didn't even think about eating/drinking something. but if you have a long labor, I can see how these would be great! I'd pass them along to a friend :)

  36. I didn't eat anything with my L&D's, but all of them were eventually included an IV and pitocin. Like you, eating was the last thing on my mind. It's my understanding that doctors restrict food and water on the off chance a woman will require emergency surgery. And, as you know, pre-op instructions for many procedures include fasting before the surgery.

    However, I think it's silly to deprive a laboring mother of energy. I don't really remember being hungry during labor, but I do remember being ravenous after!

  37. I wasn't allowed anything in my first labor & deliver, done in the hospital. With my 2nd, however, I had a homebirth. My labor was too fast & hard to bother with eating anything, but I did really appreciate being able to sip gatorade between contractions, and felt like it helped me keep up my energy & refocus between intense contractions.

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