Why you must keep hydrated in labour

Women often ask “Can I can eat & drink in labour?”  The answer is YES! – and in fact, you MUST!

The uterus, being a muscle, is working hard throughout labour and needs to be nourished. It is absolutely essential to drink fluids during labour.   In fact, not drinking enough fluids is one of the key reasons women end up with intervention despite all good intentions to have a natural birth.

Keeping hydrated during labour is really important and women become dehydrated easily, losing concentration, energy and the ability to cope. Once you become dehydrated in labour, your body is unable to work effectively and the consequence is labour slowing down, you become exhausted and requiring some medical assistance (a drip) or intervention (augmentation and epidural) – simply from not drinking enough fluids and becoming dehydrated.

 It sounds simple, but the reality is you cannot imagine just how much fluids you need.  I always recommend women drink as much as they can after each contraction. (and don’t forget to pee! or your bladder can become very very full)

Some women like to drink watered down apple juice or apple & black currant juice, some women like to drink watered down commercial sports drinks  and more and more women are turning to Coconut Water – the perfect hydrater!  WARNING : If you have gestational diabetes, be careful of the sugar content in commercial drinks, it could send your sugars up and put you on the road to extra monitoring and a more medicalised birth.

Here’s a great recipe for a home made, nautral drink to replenish your body with everything it needs in labour.  It’s basically a homemade sports drink and will healp to keep you hydrated and your body working efficiently.  You will probably want to water it down more as you move along in labour – you can even freeze some into iceblocks.

Tip for partners:  Give your birthing goddess a drink after every contraction.  You will need bendy straws so you can easily offer her a drink without disturbing her.  An essential part of your labour kit!

3 cups water or coconut water (or a combination)

1/4 cup of honey

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/3 cup of lemon juice

calcium & magnesium powder or tablets (crushed)

Mix and add to 1 litre of cool water

Rescue Remedy

Coconut water is a natural electrolyte

Raw honey is rich in minerals and easily digestible sugars, which can be used for energy.  Sugar “signals the body to down-regulate the production of stress hormones like cortisol. Cortisol levels spike during exercise and particularly during anaerobic (when you get breathless) exercise.” Too much cortisol can disrupt the flow of labor, making this super ingredient useful on many levels.

Sea salt is full of electrolytes and minerals. Plus it “plays an important role of balancing the stress hormones during exercise. Salt reduces adrenaline levels and supports overall metabolic health.”

Calcium and magnesium helps to relax the nervous system and improve muscle functioning.

Rescue Remedy is a bach flower essence that many women use to help feel calm and centered in labour.

Tara x

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