Should You Eat During Labour? Here’s What to Eat and Why!

By Jessica RajPregnancy, Postpartum and Baby Nutrition Consultant

When I gave birth to my first baby, I ate a chocolate bar at the beginning of my synthetically induced labour and that was it. I had no idea about the benefits of certain foods while in labour until I had my third baby.

Despite common belief, eating appropriate foods for each stage of labour enables you to feel comfortable and provides you with the energy that you need throughout your labour. Sadly, many medical practitioners will advise against eating, but I would highly recommend packing a bag of appropriate foods for labour.

Just like any other physical endurance, restrictive nourishment and hydration during labour can cause dehydration, headaches, stress, nausea, and vomiting.

I will take you through three stages of labour and the food and beverages you should keep in mind to consume for each.

Nourishing early labour (cervix dilated up to 3cm)

You want to aim for light and balanced snacks here that will stabilise blood sugar and provide sustained energy.

  • Apple with nut butter
  • Avocado and quinoa
  • Green smoothie
  • Yoghurt (grass-fed if possible) with nuts

Nourishing active labour (3cm-7cm dilated)

This is where your labour will ramp up and you probably won’t feel like eating much, but it is important to eat or drink something that will fuel your energy.

  • Frozen fruit (watermelon, mango or berries)
  • Tablespoon of organic honey
  • Coconut ice cubes
  • Pure applesauce

Natural sugars are suitable for this phase of labour to sustain energy, but it is good to avoid protein and fat that will slow down the rate at which the muscles utilise the sugar.

Nourishing transitional labour (7cm-10cm dilated)

You well and truly won’t feel like eating anything in this phase of labour, as you are very close to the part where most women want to give up and that is because your body is close to pushing out the baby.

This is where hydration is key.

One recipe that I love is a labour aid drink. It contains 1 cup coconut water, 1 cup water, juice from a lemon, juice from a lime, 1 tsp honey and a sprinkle of sea salt (a combination of electrolytes, natural sugars, and sodium). You can either freeze this in cubes or sip cold while in this stage of labour.

Alternatively, you can always suck on ice cubes or sip on water, but I suggest having a plan in place where your support person offers you your preferred drink throughout this stage of your labour.

When you think of labour as a marathon that you need to pace yourself for, then nourishing your body adaptive to each labour stage will determine the energy and strength you will have to power through. You’ve got this, Mama!

Visit the Wholesome Mama website and connect with them on Facebook and Instagram. You can also email Jessica at

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