Wait...I can't eat a snack while I'm in labor?

Many hospitals and birth centers are still on the fence about eating during childbirth. Some medical professionals fear that eating can create some risks for the stressed and birthing mom, while others are adamant that it's the best way to keep your focus and energy up. 

You can be in labor for 2 hours or 15 hours.

Everyone's body is different. 

When our bodies are under stress during labor, breathing can be erratic while we try to relax. For many women, this makes eating tricky while they're in labor. If you breathe in small amounts of food or some liquid, it can enter the airways and cause dangerous infections and complications. This is especially a risk if you are needed to be placed under general anesthesia for a cesarean. Aspirating food can even develop into pneumonia in serious cases. 

The fear of aspirating during birth still keeps many hospitals and doctors in favor of a strict no-eating policy. 

While the concern about aspirating is a real one, more research is appearing in the realm of "delivery dining" and many more professionals are encouraging mothers to snack. 

Clear broths, jello, applesauce and other easy to eat and digest foods are still the recommended choice of doctors and nurses, however more birth centers are leaving it to the parents to choose what and when they eat during labor, as well as a myriad of other birth preferences

Why eat during labor?

Doctors still aren't encouraging laboring women to eat large or heavy meals during labor, but small meals and snacks are becoming more recommended. For some, dietary needs are more important than just hunger. For diabetics, blood sugar is a constant need for balance and not eating for long periods of time can cause some serious medical concerns for mom and baby.

Getting the right balance of food is also being recommended to help women get the sustainable energy they need to have a healthier and often shorter or more comfortable births. 

Local Hospitals that Allow Labor Snacks

If you're expecting and interested in incorporating intermittent snacking into your birth plan, some of our local birthing centers are there to support you. Baptist Health Floyd in New Albany, Indiana and the University of Louisville Hospital in Kentucky are both letting parents choose light meals during labor. If you're curious about your hospital's limitations on food in the delivery space, just ask your birth team! 

While the risks for aspirating while in labor are small, they still exist. 

Talk to your doctor, midwife or hospital about your birth preferences and see if energy sustaining snacks are options for you. The choice to snack is up to you. 

It's your birth experience and you're empowered to make the decisions that will help you and your family be more comfortable and confident when the big day finally arrives!