Eating and drinking well during early labour (when contractions are gentle and short and spaced more than five minutes apart) will give you the strength you’ll need for the intense part of the birth process.  Focus on complex carbohydrates and easily digested protein.  A bowl of rolled oats with yogourt and fruit, whole grain muffins or bread, pasta, brown rice and steamed vegetables, eggs, soy, baked sweet potato…might appeal to you.   Staying well hydrated in active labour (when strong, long contractions are happening five minutes apart or less) is essential for you and your baby.  Having frequent sips of fluids which contain some calories is ideal.  If you are feeling nauseous, try plain water.

Otherwise, watered down fruit juice is good.  Choose something that isn’t citrus as the acidity can upset your stomach.  Natural apple, apricot, or pear juice are easily digested.   Herbal tea with honey is another option.

Below is a recipe for a drink that will help you maintain your electrolyte balance.  If your labour is particularly long or you have thrown up a fair bit, this can give you energy and help you avoid dehydration or clinical exhaustion.  It’s an alternative to Gatoraide and can prevent the need for I.V. fluids.   Drinking this after you have given birth is helpful too as you will have lost some blood with the birth of the placenta.  I remember gulping it by the glassful.  Yum.


1 litre water or 1/2 litre water and 1/2 litre non-citrus fruit juice

1/3 cup honey or maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

optional: a couple of tablespoons liquid calcium/magnesium supplement (helps with efficient muscle contraction and relaxation)