Here’s this doula’s best list of snacks for labor. Figuring out what to eat during labor can be a bit tough. Wait….can you even eat while you’re in labor? Yes, you can eat during labor and you should be prepared to do so by planning ahead a variety of foods to keep you hydrated and energized while you give birth to that baby. Don’t miss this comprehensive list of foods (with a printable PDF) to pack for your labor and delivery!
Can I eat during labor?
The easy answer to this is YES! You can eat during labor. Eating and drinking during labor is pretty important to keeping your energy up.
Would you run a long race without any food or drink? Of course not! And labor can be just as demanding on your body.
Now, with that said, some hospitals don’t “let” a laboring woman consume anything except ice. This is not a scientifically sound position and is based on a fear of aspirating vomit during an emergency cesarean.
That’s like saying if we let kids run around at recess, someone might get hurt, so let’s just make them all sit or walk slowly to prevent an injury. There’s just no sense in it.
Healthy kids need to run around, and healthy pregnant people need to eat and drink while they are in the process of having a baby.
If your chosen place of birth has this policy in place, I’d consider that a big red flag and rethink if this is really the best place for you to have your baby.
Will I be hungry during labor?
You might not be hungry at all. But you might be! The only way to move forward is to be prepared.
The good news is, anything that you buy as sustenance for labor will not go uneaten. You will need every last bit for your postpartum recovery and/or breastfeeding snacks.
Finding food to eat that is nutritious and easy to consume while taking care of your postpartum self and your new baby can be difficult. Healthy-ish food you can eat with one hand is the gold standard!
What are the best snacks for labor?
The very best snacks for labor are either super hydrating, highly nutritious, high in protein, or just plain easy to digest.
Let’s be honest here, anything that even remotely sounds good in the middle of labor is just fine!
But you have no idea what will sound good, so use these tips to plan ahead what to eat during labor:
- Bring foods from each of the categories to ensure that you are able to find something that sounds good when you need it.
- Have a variety of textures available. Soft, crunchy, juicy. Pack it all.
- Don’t forget your partner! Pack enough so that they can eat some, too, without wiping out your snack supply.
- Treat yourself. Choose items that are a little extravagant that you don’t normally buy, like that premium organic juice or fancy European chocolate bar.
The Ultimate List of Snacks for Labor
BARS AS SUBSTANTIAL SNACKS
Lots of women like a granola bar or a protein bar as an easy and portable snack during labor. I think you should definitely pack a whole box of these to feed you and your birth support team. Just choose your favorites and tuck them away in your hospital bag.
- Clif bars – I love this variety pack of Clif bars that has tons of options for you to choose from since you don’t know what will sound good!
- Rx bars – Same deal as above. A variety pack of Rx bars like this is a GREAT idea. I love Rx bars because they are so clean.
- Kind bar Thins – This variety pack of Kind Thins is another clean and gluten free option that aren’t too bulky.
- Lara bars – Another bar with super clean ingredients, I like the Coconut Cream Pie Lara bar because it tastes great and has that extra energy boost from coconut oil to keep you going during labor.
- Health Warrior Chia bars – These are kind of small, but they are a great option for a nice healthy chocolate bar with some great nutrition in the form of chia seeds. If you need a little extra help in the bathroom department, you will appreciate these!
MORE SUBSTANTIAL PROTEIN SNACKS
Protein is so important for pregnancy nutrition, plus it helps balance your blood sugar so you don’t have any crashes later. If you can stomach any protein during labor, you should eat some. Here are some favorite protein snacks that make good food to eat during labor.
- Graham crackers with peanut butter – I like a graham cracker stick like these because they are less crumbly and messy than a regular cracker. And if you get some cute little peanut butter packets like these, you’ll have even less mess to worry about!
- PB&J – Just pack and make some peanut (or almond or sunflower seed) butter & jelly sandwiches at home and keep them bagged and ready to go
- Cheese cubes – You can pre-cut and pack your own in baggies or get some cheese cubes like these from Whole Foods and they’ll be ready when you are
- Frozen yogurt – Ok, these delicious Greek frozen yogurt bars might not be the best for your hospital bag, but you could keep some in stock at home for early labor. What could be better than a portable frozen delight that also has protein?
- Ready to drink protein shakes – Having some ready to go protein drink for mom and partner is a fabulous idea. You’ll probably be at the hospital for a few days, and having a solid hit of protein at a moment’s notice is super nice. These protein shakes are great because they have high quality grass fed protein and taste delicious as well.
- Greek yogurt – I love Greek yogurt and it’s great for an easy to digest bowl of high protein creamy yumminess. Eat it for a great pregnancy snack and eat it in labor!
- Honestly, any entree that sounds good! Meatballs, grilled chicken, lasagne? Go for it!
Drinking throughout labor is super important. If you can’t keep your liquids up, you’ll find yourself on an IV. You should pack a variety of beverages to keep you well hydrated and energized for the work at hand.
- Peppermint tea – Peppermint tea is great for mild nausea or indigestion, both common in late pregnancy & early labor. A cup of this excellent tea (with honey, for sweetness and extra energy) will have you feeling better in no time.
- Laborade, a homemade electrolyte drink
- Sugar free electrolytes – When you are in labor, staying hydrated is so, so important. Drinking electrolyte mixes in your water occasionally goes a long way toward not needing an IV. Try this clean brand of electrolytes or this brand of sugar free electrolyte powder which is a lot more affordable and what my family likes. Buy the big box/container because electrolytes while breastfeeding are also super helpful!
- Red Raspberry Leaf tea – There are so many benefits to this tea that I need to write a post about it, but for now, just buy this tea and drink it through your third trimester and during birth. It has an excellent track record in assisting with quick labors. While you’re there, stock up on teas for 3rd trimester & nursing and also on Mama Bottom Balm & Spray and some organic diaper cream and sunscreen. You will not regret ordering this all right now from Earth Mama!
- Apple juice or any fruit juice that sounds good
- Bone broth – So many nutrients that support energy, and these packets of chicken bone broth are so convenient and portable! I also like this as a snack because it feels more like a meal since it’s salty and savory. A nice way to change it up over granola bars and gummies.
- Gatorade – I mean, you can if you want, but I really recommend my electrolyte options above!
- Coconut water – What I love about coconut water is the naturally occurring electrolytes. What I hate is the flavor. That’s why I recommend this particular coconut water with pineapple added. So much more refreshing and delicious!
- Ice water, an ever popular favorite
These light snack ideas provide both some simple carbs for energy as well as a high water content for hydration. A juicy, cold fruit is often a very appealing snack for labor.
- Mandarin oranges
- Grapes or frozen grapes
Sometimes a dry, crunchy snack like a cracker is comforting, like when your mom gives you saltines when you’re sick. They can help settle the stomach and give a little protein or carb boost as well. Try one of these crunchy snacks during early labor for energy.
- Cocoa almonds
- Graham crackers
- Goldfish crackers
SUPER PORTABLE ENERGIZING SNACKS
Many of these portable snacks really could fall under the other snack categories. Some of these are protein-rich or light & juicy, but mostly they are EASY! Grab a selection of these easy-to-pack portable snacks and you’ll be set to keep you and your partner well energized no matter how long your labor lasts. And remember, these all make great postpartum foods, too!
- Nut butter packets – These are top quality with yummy flavor options and a really convenient way to transport and eat nut butters. No knife needed.
- Vine-dried grapes (aka fancy schmancy raisins) – These are super interesting and fun little twist on raisins. Dried fruit can be a great energizer, so if fancy vine-dried grapes appeal to you, definitely pack some of these in your birth bag.
- Honey sticks – Little sticks of flavored honey have been carried to many a birth by midwives and doulas. Honey is a fast burning carb so you can suck these down when you need energy quickly in the middle of labor!
- Organic energy chews – These are a cool little product. They have energy for a tired body from honey and vitamin C. They are delicious little gummies with electrolytes to help refuel your body. Highly recommend!
- Energy bites, like these lemon-flavored date bites or these ginger date & oat bites or these superfood power snacks – Similiar to a granola bar but less crunchy and easier to pop in and chew.
- Applesauce or superfood pouches -Love the portability of these and the quick energy from whole foods.
- Chia seed pouches – Super portable and chia can be so great for energy as well. Easy to swallow when chewing seems like too much work.
- Organic fruit energy gummies
- Smooth chocolate bites
- Bananas (classic!) – You can’t go wrong with a banana! Just pack it in a ziploc so your whole bag doesn’t smell like banana.
- A done for you snack assortment that includes chocolate, applesauce pouches, Lara bars, popcorn, cookies & more for if you’re really feeling like pushing the easy button! ⤵️
Write your own list of what to eat during labor
I encourage you to go through this list and write down a few things from each category that really appeal to you. Then head to the store or over to Amazon and get it all bought. It’s always good to have one more thing marked off your list to lift some of that pre-labor anxiety that tends to set in.
Then come back later during a late night nursing sesh when you’ve already rewatched all your favorite Netflix shows and let me know what you actually ate during labor!
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All of these snack ideas are in a printable form in the Powerful Birth Packet that you can get for free right here ⤵️