Eating during labour
What’s the perfect meal for between contractions? asks Adele Hamilton.
(Shawn Benjamin)
In hospital after my son’s birth, the most annoying thing was the eager staff who kept coming in to ask me to choose meals.
“And next Tuesday, do you want a ginger biscuit or a lemon cream with your morning tea?”

My brain, flooded with hormones and the general confusion of having become someone’s parent, refused to compute such difficult decisions. I was a bit peckish, though, as during labour there was only the odd sip of ice water on offer.

Now new research has shown that starving a woman in labour is not necessary, and makes no difference to how the labour progresses. It doesn’t even seem to make a difference to whether or not the woman vomits during labour (about 35% of us chuck our cookies in the throes of labour, apparently).

Now that we can eat during labour, the question must arise as to what is best to choose. I can well imagine those eager hospital helpers running in with the full menu, asking whether I want a baked potato or rice with that, and offering monkey gland sauce on the side. Maybe it depends on what you’ve been craving in pregnancy? If sushi is your thing, why not have an inside-out roll or 10 to go with the fact that your insides feel like they are being turned out?

This is probably not the time to go for a full roast – apart from anything else, you have a 35% chance of puking it up, and that would be a senseless waste of money. But to nibble on a lettuce leaf seems a sad abuse of that rare licence afforded to women in labour to behave in socially unacceptable ways. For once you can literally scream for ice cream, and no one will judge.

So, should I ever be in labour again, here are my nutritional requirements: copious cups of tea, an egg and tomato sandwich (not toasted), and mango sorbet.

Did you feel like eating in labour? What do you think is the ideal labour menu?

Read more by Adele Hamilton

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