Ideal foods for your hospital bag
So are you nearly there? After what may have seemed an eternity, is your pregnancy nearing the end?
For those of you at this stage, you may well be thinking about packing your bag that you take with you to the hospital and wondering what snacks or drinks to put in it. Of course what you take will depend on your favourites and what you think you might fancy, but some suggestions that I can recommend to help keep your energy levels up and to keep you well hydrated during your labour might be dried fruit, dry biscuits, cereal bars, glucose tablets and bottles of water or isotonic sports drinks. Of course these are all things that you can pack in advance, but on the day you might think of adding some extras, such as some fresh fruit, a sandwich or a yogurt. Don’t worry about whether these foods are healthy or not, but I suggest you keep away from any foods high in fats as these can make you feel very uncomfortable and may make you be sick!
Often mums in labour aren’t really thinking about food at all or may not be able to face eating anything. But if your labour is dragging on a bit, or if you do feel like eating something, then I suggest you stick to nibbling on snacks. A big meal will probably not be an option and you really won’t feel like it anyway. It’s a good idea to keep any eating or drinking during labour to ‘little and often’ and probably only in the early stages of labour.
Depending on how long your labour lasts, you may or may not need the glucose tablets to keep you going and the isotonic sports drinks may or may not be necessary, but best to go prepared.
And as for foods that might bring on your labour and therefore your hospital trip? - we did a survey of nearly 1800 new mums and perhaps not surprisingly of the mums that responded to the question “If you ate a particular food to try and bring on labour, what was it and did it work?”, eating ‘spicy food’ including curries came out as top favourite choice, followed by drinking red raspberry leaf tea and eating pineapple. In many cases these didn’t work, but many would argue they were worth a try!
Good luck with your preparations.
It was reported in the news this week that pregnant women who ask for a caesarean delivery should be allowed to have one. You can read the full story on the BBC website.
A vaginal birth is generally safer than a caesarean birth. However, a caesarean section may be needed to save the life of a mum or baby. In these cases, caesarean birth is without question the safest option.
But there are also times when the decision is not so obvious and it will be up to you and your doctor to weigh up the risks and benefits of having a caesarean to decide what's best for you. Although a caesarean is a common procedure, it involves major surgery in your abdominal and pelvic area, and all operations carry risks.
Disadvantages of a caesarean:
- Pain. The main disadvantage is pain after the caesarean. This may last for a few weeks or more after the operation. You will be given medication to help cope with the pain but it will affect your daily activities.
- Infection. Before the operation, you will be offered a single dose of antibiotics, but about 8% of women still go on to get an infection.
- Blood clot. Any surgery carries a risk of developing a blood clot. This can be serious, or even life-threatening, depending on where the clot develops. You will be given blood-thinning drugs and support stockings to improve the blood flow in your legs after the caesarean. You'll also be encouraged to get up and move around as soon as possible afterwards. This helps your circulation and reduce your risk of developing a clot.
- Adhesions. These are bands of scar tissue which form as you heal and can make organs in your abdomen stick to each other or to the inside of your abdominal wall. About half of women who have had a caesarean get adhesions, and this can increase with more caesareans. Adhesions can be painful because they limit the movement of your internal organs.
- Infertility. Occasionally, adhesions can lead to problems with fertility, as they can press on or block fallopian tubes. Sometimes women experience unexplained infertility after a caesarean.
- Anaesthetic. Most caesareans are done with an epidural or spinal, which numbs you from the abdominal area down. An epidural or spinal is safer for you and your baby than a general anaesthetic. However, having any anaesthetic involves a small risk. With epidurals and spinals a few women can have; a severe headache (affects about 1% of women); nerve damage. This rarely happens and, if it does, it usually only lasts for a few days or weeks although very rarely it’s permanent.
- Injury to the bladder, to the tubes connecting the kidneys to the bladder (ureters) or to the bowel.
- Very occasionally, if there are major complications, to protect a woman's health, doctors may have to perform an operation to remove the uterus (hysterectomy).
- A blood transfusion. If you've had a serious complication during the caesarean, you may need a blood transfusion. Some of the rarer complications of a caesarean can be life-threatening. However, the risk of a caesarean proving fatal is extremely small, only one in 12,000.
- Breathing difficulties for the baby. About 35 in every 1,000 babies have breathing problems after a caesarean compared with five in 1,000 babies born vaginally. Breathing problems are more common for premature babies born by caesarean or babies born by a caesarean before labour started.
- About 2% of babies get a nick or cut from the doctor's scalpel.
- Although early postnatal depression is more common in women who've had a caesarean than women who've had a vaginal birth, by two months, the rates are about the same.
- Women who've had a caesarean are less likely to start breastfeeding than women who've had a vaginal birth. However, once you've started, your chances of success are the same as for a woman who's given birth vaginally.
- It can affect future pregnancies. Once you've had one caesarean, you're much more likely to have another caesarean in future pregnancies. Having had a caesarean slightly increases your risk of having a low-lying-placenta (placenta praevia) in future pregnancies. There is a very small risk of the scar on your uterus opening up again in future pregnancies or births. This is called a uterine rupture but is rare and affects 0.5-1% of women in future pregnancies.
Advantage of a caesarean:
- If it’s planned, you will know when your baby will be born.
- Although you'll have a very sore tummy, you won't have some of the discomforts that can result from a vaginal birth, such as pain and bruising and tears and stitches around your vagina.
- Caesarean birth may help protect against the slight risk of urine leaks and in later years, vaginal prolapse. However, other factors such as the number of births, having big babies, having assisted deliveries and obesity also contribute to these conditions. Pregnancy itself is also a risk factor for these conditions as it can weaken your pelvic floor, so you still need to do your pelvic floor exercises!
If you have any questions about either a caesarean or a vaginal birth, don't be afraid to ask your midwife and talk through all of the options with her.
Best wishes - Amber
Is there anything I should do to prepare for labour?
I often get asked what mums should do to prepare for labour so thought it would be useful to share my advice with you all.
Being well informed can really help. Gather as much information as you can. Read books, join an antenatal, hypnosis or exercise class and talk to your health professionals. Many women fear the unknown about labour which can cause anxiety, tension and uses up valuable energy which can make labour more painful and exhausting. If you know what to expect, you can have some idea about what you would like for yourself.
Consider writing a birth plan. For some women it is important to have written personal a birth plan. It can be helpful if you bring your written wishes with you, especially if you have a midwife in labour you’ve not met before. Usually at a glance at a plan, as midwives, we can see what is important to you - it can be difficult to explain what is particularly important to you in between contractions! Many women keep a copy of their plan in their maternity hand held notes. Keeping an open mind is a good idea, as sometimes you might either choose to do things differently or need to if problems occur, but it’s good to have an idea of what you would like / would like to avoid in advance.
Keep a list of important phone numbers in your handbag or near the phone. Include your hospital or midwife, your birth partner or birth companion, and your own hospital reference number available for when you contact the midwife/hospital.
Have your bags ready. Only about 5% of babies actually come on their due date, so it is always a good idea to have your bags packed or homebirth items ready to go.
Stock up at home for when your baby has arrived. You may not want to do much more than rest and care for your baby, so do as much planning as you can in advance. Stock up on basics such as toilet paper, sanitary pads and nappies. If you have a freezer, prepare some meals in advance and freeze them.
Hope this helps.
What to bring to eat when in labour
For those of you reaching the end of your pregnancy, you may well be thinking about packing your bag that you take with you when you go into labour and what snacks or drinks to put in.
Of course what you take will depend on your favourites and what you think you might fancy, but some suggestions that I can recommend to help keep your energy levels up and to keep you well hydrated - during labour that might be dried fruit, dry biscuits, cereal bars, glucose tablets and bottles of water or isotonic sports drinks. Of course these are all things that you can pack in advance, but on the day you might think of adding some extras, such as fresh fruit, a sandwich or yogurt. Don’t worry about whether these foods are healthy or not, I suggest you keep away from any foods high in fats as these can make you feel very uncomfortable and may make you be sick!
In our recent survey of HiPP babyclub members, over half of the mums asked ‘Did you eat anything during labour?’ said that they didn’t think of food at all or really couldn’t face eating anything during labour. But for those that did feel like eating something they generally only wanted to nibble on snacks. It’s a good idea to keep any eating or drinking during labour to little and often and probably only in the early stages of labour. Depending on how long your labour lasts, you may or may not need the glucose tablets to keep you going and the isotonic sports drinks may or may not be necessary, but best to go prepared!
And as for foods that might help bring on labour, our survey suggests that spicy foods like a curry still seem to be a favourite, as does drinking red raspberry leaf tea or eating pineapple, but who knows if these really make a difference or not?!
Best wishes - Helen