Nutrition in Labor

You are likely to get hungry during labor. When you are laboring at home, you have a wide variety of foods from which to choose.  Eat small portions of light, nutrient-dense foods like fruit, yogurt, eggs, soups and teas when you are in labor.   Midwives and obstetricians vary widely regarding eating in labor and hospital protocols add another layer of possible restrictions such as “clear liquids only”, so discuss your options with your care providers early in your pregnancy care. 


Nettle Tea Cup

I suggest preparing several cups of red raspberry leaf tea and bringing the tea to the hospital in a thermos. You can also make ice cubes with the tea and bring them along as well. Add honey and lemon as you like. This tea is a clear liquid and can be sipped throughout labor.  As explained in Aviva Romm’s article on “Herbs in Pregnancy: What’s Safe and What’s Not” red raspberry leaf tea is a “mineral rich nutritive tonic {and} uterine tonic {that} promotes an expedient labor with minimal bleeding.”  Aviva also states:

“Red raspberry leaf tea, 2 cups daily, . . . is known to be safe in pregnancy, and several studies have now shown that taking it regularly in the last trimester can make labor easier, reduces the need for medical interventions in labor, and makes baby less likely to need any resuscitation. I’d say that this makes it a great herb to use for getting ready for birth!”

A clear soup, like chicken broth or miso soup, is comforting, nourishing, and easy to digest. It also classifies as a clear liquid and can be sipped throughout labor.  Prepare ahead and freeze in small containers or ice cube trays for easier defrosting in early labor. Bring your broth to the hospital in a thermos or as ice cubes if you don’t have time to thaw them.

“Smart Water” provides electrolytes and tastes better than hospital water. It is unflavored and readily available in stores. Try it during pregnancy to be sure you like it and bring several bottles with you to the hospital.

Supplement these three items with fruit, yogurt, energy bars and other light foods of your choosing and you are on your way to staying nourished in labor. If making the tea and broth seem overwhelming, it may be a good time to start building your network of support. Do you have a friend or family member who is really into herbal teas or who loves to cook? Share this page with them, buy the ingredients, and ask for help.  Remember: you are raising the next generation!  You deserve a little support.