One of the most commonly asked questions when preparing for labor is: what should I pack in my hospital bag?
Today's episode is a quick tip of something you definitely should bring that you might not think of. Pack this in your hospital bag, and you'll be glad you did!
It’s Carly here. I wanted to share something extra with you this week, so I will be doing a special quick tips episode.
One of the most common questions asked when getting ready for labor and delivery is, what should I pack in my hospital bag? If you listened to this week’s episode, my interview with Christine, you know the first time around she packed way too much in her hospital bag. So I’m not going to get into the specifics of what you need, but in addition to some of the obvious answers: clothes, toiletries, clothes for your baby, things like that, I’m going to give a quick tip on something you might not think to pack, but many women will tell you it’s a necessity:
Snacks. Snacks for during labor and for your stay at the hospital. Now, if you’re planning to give birth at a birth center or at home, this might not apply to you, but feel free to listen anyway for ideas of what you might want to have on hand for during labor or after labor.
Let’s talk snacks during labor. Your uterus is a muscle, and just like any other muscle in your body, it needs fuel to function well. If you become dehydrated or go too long without eating, your uterus functions less efficiently, leading to labor slowing down or even stalling completely. Imagine running a marathon without water or a meal beforehand to power you through. Yeah, just like that. Giving birth is a marathon, and your body needs to be properly fueled to help get you to the finish line.
During labor, you want something that’s hydrating, easy to eat, and gives you energy.
Many hospitals “won’t allow” you to eat during labor, which is counterintuitive, but if that is the case, you can still be prepared with drinks. Coconut water, sports drinks (Gatorade or PowerAde), or even juice can be great ways to fill your body with electrolytes and sugar to give you energy and help with your stamina. Pack some juice boxes or small cartons of coconut water or small bottles of sports drinks ahead of time in your labor bag, this is a good idea. Pour them over ice for a cool and refreshing boost of energy.
Fruit is a great snack for labor as it keeps you hydrated, and gives you a little sugar boost, but is also pretty light to eat. Strawberries and watermelon are two of my favorite fruits. And they both have a high water content. And actually, watermelon is great for muscle recovery during a workout. If you eat watermelon before a workout, it helps with your post workout recovery, it helps your muscles recover faster. So watermelon is also great for this reason.
Bananas are awesome if you can stomach them. They digest super easy and are great for energy and also for muscle recovery. When I used to go to the gym a lot, I did a lot of group fitness classes, and sometimes I would do two classes back to back. So I might do a strength training or a weight class, followed by a zumba or a cardio class. Or, the other way around. But in between classes, I didn’t have a lot of time to rest and recover, I didn’t have time to eat a full meal, so I would pack a banana to eat real quick in between classes. And I love bananas for this reason, because they digest easy, they won’t interfere if you’re working out with like stomach cramps and things like that, they give you a little bit longer lasting energy. They have carbohydrates, they have sugar, there’s carbohydrates, there’s sugar, there’s fiber, which helps give you a quick and sustained energy boost. If you’re the kind of person who likes bananas or who can stomach bananas during labor, they’re great for this reason.
Honey is a great for a quick energy boost and might be easy to stomach while in labor. It also doesn’t require a lot of energy to eat, there’s no chewing involved. And if you have toddlers in the house, you might have some applesauce pouches on hand. These are great because they don’t require any chewing, which allows you to focus all your energy on birthing your baby. They also give you a little bit of the sugar boost for energy we’re looking for. Candy is also a great source of sugar for energy if you can stomach it. My husband brought a few bags of sour patch kids to the hospital for my first daughter’s birth, and although I couldn’t stomach them, he needed them to help keep his energy up.
During earlier labor, or if you find you need something more filling, trail mix or granola bars are great for energy. Nuts are great for energy. They’ll give you more sustained energy due to the carbohydrates and the fact that they take a little bit longer to digest.
I’ve heard of some women eating full time meals while in labor, and that might be you. That was not me, I didn’t really eat while in labor, but I did drink a lot of water, and the second time around, I opted for coconut water. Here is a mistake I made that I don’t want you to make. I did not chill the coconut water ahead of time, and I did not pour it over ice. Now, if you’ve ever drank warm coconut water, this is a mistake you only make once. Take it from me, don’t learn this lesson the hard way, chill the coconut water ahead of time, or pour it over ice.
Now the hospital kitchen is only open for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. This means if you want snacks in between or during the night (and you most likely will, you’ll be up with a baby in the middle of the night) you should pack your own. After giving birth, your body needs a lot of calories and nutrients to help recover. It’s very important to eat nutrient-dense foods, like fruits and vegetables, but it’s also hard to find healthy shelf-stable foods that you can pack possibly weeks ahead of time. I like granola bars for this reason. I’ll give you a few of my recommendations, but choose whatever suits you.
I really love Larabars, they’re made with simple, healthy ingredients, and you don’t have to question what’s in them. They use dates as a sweetener, so for all you moms who are trying to go into labor, you know the importance of dates. So you can also use these pre labor. I ate a lot of these towards the end of my pregnancy, and I packed them in my hospital bag as well. But, I love them because they’re simple ingredients, things like peanuts, almonds, dates, chocolate chips, and you’re not questioning what’s in them. They’re healthy, simple, awesome. Cliff bars are filling and they taste really good also. Kind bars are a good one. I really like the Aldi trail mix granola bars as they’re healthy, and have a lot of whole ingredients, you don’t have to question what’s in them. There’s not a lot of sugar in them, and these are also not too expensive. Some of the other ones can be pretty expensive so the Aldi brand, well actually any kind of Aldi brand granola bars are not too expensive, but I prefer the trail mix granola bars.
I confess I’m a candy junkie, so for my second daughter, my husband packed a whole bunch of my favorites as a treat for me. Whatever snacks you love, make sure to include them!
Thanks for joining me for this quick tips episode. If you liked it, please let me know, and I can include some more of these going forward. Until next time.