Unmedicated Childbirth: Can I Eat or Drink During an Unmedicated Birth?

When trying for an unmedicated birth… can you eat and drink if you get hungry or thirty? That’s the big question… because it takes a lot of energy to push a baby out of your body and you’re going to need all the help you can get.

Video Transcript

Featured Expert

Video Series

  • Unmedicated Childbirth with Hehe Stewart

    Planning unmedicated childbirth? We're partnering with Hehe Stewart from The Birth Lounge to more about what to expect and how to make the most out of your childbirth experience.

Episode Transcript

Unmedicated Childbirth: Can I Eat or Drink During an Unmedicated Birth?

Sunny Gault: When you're trying for an unmedicated birth, can you eat if you get hungry, can you drink if you get thirsty? That's the big question that we're asking today. because trust me, it takes a lot of energy. To push that baby out of your body, you are going to need all the help you can get. I'm Sunny with New Mommy Media. And I'm joined today by Hehe Stewart, she is the owner, the creator of The Birth Lounge and host of The Birth Lounge Podcast. Hi, Hey, thanks for being with us today.

Hehe Stewart: Hi, thanks for having me.

Sunny Gault: He are there rules about how often you can eat or drink if you're going for an unmedicated birth?

Hehe Stewart: Yeah, absolutely. So this is kind of a divide here, the resources one thing and then the rules of the hospital or the policies of the hospital. Say another thing and we kind of see a discrepancy here where our research says one thing, but our hospital policies haven't caught up. And so yeah, the rules typically are what's called in p O, and it just means nothing by mouth and that you shouldn't be eating or drinking. Now, a cough the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology does recommend that for low risk birthers you are offered at least water and ice chips. However, the research suggests that we typically should be offering both low risk birthers both food and drink during labor.

Sunny Gault: Okay, because a lot of times you don't know how long you're going to be in labor for so even if you are eating before, you know, you can have a really long birth 24 hours plus or whatever, you're still laboring, and you're gonna get hungry, right during that process. Absolutely.

Hehe Stewart: I mean, I always compare it to a marathon, right? marathoners car blows the night before, since we don't exactly have that timing, we don't know the night before, we're gonna go into labor, it's very hard for us to carb load for this marathon, if you will. And then your body sustained throughout that is going to be really important. your uterus is a muscle as well. And so uterine fatigue is something that we do experience during labor, one of the ways that we can prevent this is making sure that you're staying well hydrated and that your body is getting the nourishment that it needs to keep going in labor.

Sunny Gault: So he most of the stuff that we're talking about now is really applicable more if you are giving birth in a hospital, right? Because if you're giving birth in a birth center, or if you're at home, you have a little bit more control. But hospitals have their own set of rules. So what happens for a mom, if she's chosen to give birth in a hospital? Maybe her birth is longer than expected? And she's just starving, like, what should a mom do at that point?

Hehe Stewart: The good thing is that you have research on your side, right? The research is very clear that for low risk birthers, you should be able to and offered food and drink during your labor. So I think it comes down to a frank discussion with your provider, call your provider in there and explain to them that you are very, very hungry and that you feel like in order to achieve your birth goals, you really need to eat. Now, if your provider gives you push back, and you still make the choice to eat, which is your right, just be upfront with your providers. It may impact dosing of medicine in the future. And we do not want you to have food in your belly and your providers do not know about that.

Sunny Gault: That's a really good point. So let's talk about what kind of foods may be good, because I'm assuming there are some foods maybe you should stay away from and others that might be better for you during this time. So what are some good, I'm just calm snacks. What are some good snacks to sustain you in childbirth?

Hehe Stewart: Yeah, so I always like to start with the practicality of things we're looking for something that you can fold out to a birther. So granola bars are great bananas are great. The long crackers are great pretzel sticks, perfect. Honey sticks, perfect. Another really good thing that will not only give you something in your belly, but also a little bit of sugar to amp you up give you a little bit more energy is dried fruit, it usually comes in strips, you can hold it out to the birth or they can bite it off and it's fruit. And then again, it's not processed food. It's not super salty, we don't have to worry about it impacting your labor.

Sunny Gault: That's a really good point, I didn't think about something that you could hold out so someone can actually hold the food for you. Because you may be you know, in pain, you may not be thinking how do I hold this fork this spoon, whatever. So that's that's something I hadn't thought about. That's you're also in

Hehe Stewart: the hospital. So you don't want to be digging your hands into a bag of trail mix or nuts because as you are feeding this birthing person, you're also probably touching their back in door handle and other things in the birthing room. And so we want to be careful that it has a wrapper but also you can hold it out to them for convenience factor.

Sunny Gault: Now Hey, I'm just curious, do you find that more moms like they get more hungry during childbirth because I'm assuming you're burning a ton of calories. Not that you're trying to lose weight during this process, but there's a lot of energy that goes into pushing a baby out and I would imagine that You would get more hungry. But there's also a lot going on inside your body like does your body kind of say, okay, hunger? You just hold off for a little bit like I mean, what typically happens with moms?

Hehe Stewart: Yeah, I think it's probably 5050 although funny story, I have had a client order an entire pizza during labor. She was laboring away, she looked up, it was like, I need a pepperoni pizza right now. And she said yes. And so we ordered it, and had it delivered to the hospital and she ate pizza during her labor. And today, we still joke about it, her baby will turn three this year. And so every year on that baby's birthday, we always joke about ordering pizza during labor. So if you think you should eat and you should drink, but if you're not, it's okay. Your body is working really hard and hormonally, we may have shut down that hunger. I bet after your baby gets here, you look around and say I am starving. Yes, let me the fastest.

Sunny Gault: Exactly. And sometimes, also, if you're in a hospital, sometimes they do make you wait, especially if you've had a Syrian right. I've had a couple of Syrians and man, I'm just so famished afterwards. And then they kind of eased me back into eating like my body had to do certain things. I can't remember what they all were. But like I had to do little milestones before I could get back to regular food. So that's something in hospitals to to be mindful of.

Hehe Stewart: Yeah, absolutely. Any sort of narcotics that we use are going to impact your consumption of food and so your medical providers will know exactly what that needs to look like in order to keep you safe. Awesome.

Sunny Gault: Well, thank you Hehe for the information. Now if you want to check out more of his work, and all the great information on her website. It's thebirthlounge.com, and then you can head on over to our website, which is newmommymedia.com. We've got all of our podcast episodes there. We've got videos, we've got blog posts, anything, anything you guys could want, and that is where real moms talk about real life.

Love our shows? Join our community and continue the conversation! Mighty Moms is our online support group, with parenting resources and helpful new mom stories you won’t find anywhere else! You’ll also have a chance to be featured on our shows.

Become a Mighty Mom!