You have reached the final month of your pregnancy and by this time you are feeling ready, if not impatient to meet your little one. Your baby has dropped down into your pelvis which has helped to relieve your constipation and heartburn. Your baby will continue to grow and build up fat stores during this month so it will be important for you to continue to eat nutrient dense foods and to get enough calories and protein in. This is also a good time for you to start preparing your body for birth, and this includes preparing yourself nutritionally.
Labour is taxing on the body so it’s a great idea to plan some high energy snacks that you can pack into your hospital bag (if you are having a hospital birth) or to have around the house (if you are having a home birth). Back in the day, women used to be advised against eating during labour but we now know that eating during labour is not only important, but also gives you the energy you need to get through the birth and to make a speedy recovery afterwards.
If you are having a scheduled c-section, your doctor may advise you to not eat for a few hours before the birth, but you should still eat a good high energy meal before you begin your fasting period. This will help to keep your blood sugar stable through the birth and will give you enough energy and nutrient stores for a good recovery. Aim for a meal that is high in complex carbohydrates for slow release energy, along with some protein and healthy fats. Try this one-pot puttanesca pasta made with legume-based pasta for extra protein and filled with slow-release carbohydrates and healthy fats.
MY TOP TIPS FOR EATING DURING LABOUR:
- Listen to your body: if you are feeling nauseous or queasy, don’t force yourself to eat. However, if you are feeling hungry and have an appetite, eat until you are satisfied.
- Ideally, labour snacks should be high in carbohydrates to give you energy and should also be light so that you don’t feel too full or uncomfortable after eating. If you are giving birth in a hospital, your labour snacks should be easy to transport and should be non-perishable. Fresh fruits, dried fruits, crackers or rice cakes, whole-food bars and vegetable crisps are all good options.
- Getting in enough fluids and electrolytes is also important during labour. Sip iced water throughout, adding lemon or fruit for flavour if you wish. You could also have some fresh pressed fruit and vegetable juice or a smoothie for extra energy and nutrients.
- Iron needs are high during and after delivery as your body will lose some blood. Remember to keep taking your iron supplements and to pack them into your hospital bag for after delivery. If you didn’t need an iron supplement throughout pregnancy, you may consider taking one for a week or two after birth to help maintain your iron levels.