Eating While in Labor

Your Best Labor Diet

Pregnant woman eating cereal
Photo © JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Eating while in labor may not be at the top of your list of things to plan for before you go into labor, but some planning ahead may be just what the doctor or midwife ordered. Here are some ground rules for choosing what you will be eating while in labor:

  • Go with the flow.
    A liquid diet may be what you feel like eating. This might mean drinks like Laborade, sports drinks, water, juice or tea. You might feel like warm or cold liquids. Sometimes you crave comfort liquids, like fruit punch or lemonade.
  • What sounds good?
    Sometimes just eating what sounds right is the best thing to consider eating while in labor. So if you're thinking something light, consider: pudding, cereal, tea, toast with jelly, soup or broth, Jell-o, honey sticks. Only question yourself if you're thinking about something like a big greasy, heavy meal and you're in active or later stages of labor.
  • Need a boost?
    Are you trying to eat something to give your some energy? Head for protein. Some moms enjoy making protein snacks for eating while in labor. That might be some cheese and fruit, peanut butter crackers, lean cuts of meat in small quantities. If you really don't feel like eating while in labor but you need a boost, consider honey sticks or even small bites of yogurt.

Things to remember about eating while in labor include:

  • Your hospital or birth center policy, unless you are having a home birth.
  • Your risk status, the vast majority of women are low risk.
  • You practitioner preference, some will dictate what you can eat or drink while in labor, so have this discussion early.
  • You may plan to eat and then not be hungry, this can also be normal as digestive processes slow drastically in labor.


Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. Gaskin, IM. Bantam; 1 edition.

Practice Guidelines for Obstetric Anesthesia: An Updated Report by the American Society of Anesthesiologists Task Force on Obstetric Anesthesia, Anesthesiology:Volume 106(4)April 2007pp 843-863.

Restricting oral fluid and food intake during labour. Singata M, Tranmer J, Gyte GML. January 2010 Cochrane Review.

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