15 Healthy Snacks to Have in Your Hospital Bag for Labor & Recovery

Beautiful pregnant woman with a bowl of fruit.

  • Some doctors will only allow you to have clear liquids during labor, while others recognize the benefits of eating small snacks for energy during this time.
  • The best snacks for your hospital bag are ones that will give you energy and keep you from feeling weak.
  • Shelf-stable, healthy snacks will stay fresh no matter how early you pack your bag.

When I was in labor with my second child, I remember feeling weak and hungry. I woke up early that morning and left for the hospital without eating breakfast. When I got there, I was immediately hooked up to an IV where they started the Pitocin for induction. 

It wasn’t until two hours later that I realized I hadn’t eaten and was already feeling shaky. Thankfully, I had a granola bar in my hospital bag. It was just what I needed to give me an energy burst.

Packing hospital snacks isn’t something many moms think to include in their hospital bag. They often think of packing receiving blankets, nursing pads, and other baby necessities. But it’s important to think about mom’s health and well-being too.

A snack can help you keep your energy levels high during labor, and keep you from feeling hungry when breastfeeding after the baby comes. Plus, hospital food isn’t always delicious, so it’s great to have options.

If you’re wondering how to pick snacks for your hospital bag for labor and delivery, we have you covered! We’ve found the best snacks for moms in labor.

Are You Allowed to Eat During Labor?

This question is challenging to answer. Many practitioners have opposing takes on this debate. Some doctors will only allow you to have clear liquids, while others recognize the benefits of eating for energy during labor.

Regardless, if you’re thinking about eating during labor, a light snack is much better than a full meal. If your practitioner gives you the okay for eating during labor, you don’t want to overdo it. And you likely won’t have the desire for a steak dinner anyway. 

Why is eating sometimes not allowed during labor?

For a long time, doctors believed that eating food could put you at risk for aspiration if you needed an emergency c-section with anesthesia. Nowadays this is rarely needed in a birthing situation. Cesareans rarely use general anesthesia. 

Studies also show that the risk of aspiration is very minimal. So even if anesthesia was needed, it’s unlikely that food would cause you to aspirate.

However, many practitioners still err on the side of caution and encourage moms to avoid certain foods or all foods during labor.

How do you know if you’re not allowed to eat during labor?

To find out if eating during labor is okay, you should talk with your doctor or medical professional. Having this conversation before you head to the hospital will keep you from being surprised when you get there. It will also help you to plan ahead and buy healthy snacks for your hospital bag if allowed.

Hungry pregnant woman eats sweet food (peanut butter sandwiches) after childbirth.

What Snacks Are Good During Labor?

The best snacks for your hospital bag are ones that will give you energy and keep you from feeling weak. For this reason, sugary snacks are not the best option. If you only pack fruits or sugary snacks, you’ll end up feeling more drained after the quick energy buzz wears off. 

Including protein-packed snacks in your hospital bag will give you long-term energy. 

How to Choose Snacks to Pack in Your Hospital Bag

Not all foods are ideal for labor or afterward. When you choose your hospital bag snacks, make sure they fit these criteria:

Small 

Think about portion sizes, when you choose hospital snacks. You don’t want to overfill yourself and end up feeling uncomfortable. Packing snacks that come pre-portioned in small containers is a great option. 

Easy to Eat 

After labor, you’ll likely have one arm occupied with a newborn. During labor, you may have an IV in one arm. So it’s helpful to choose snacks that you can eat one-handed.

Non-perishable 

When you pack hospital bag snacks, it will likely be far in advance. Shelf-stable, healthy snacks will stay fresh no matter how early you pack your bag.

You can always add in fresh items if you have time before leaving the house. Items like fresh fruit, cheese sticks, or hard-boiled eggs can be quickly thrown in an insulated lunch bag with ice packs. 

Healthy organic energy bites with nuts, raw snack.

Must-Have Snacks to Bring to the Hospital

Over the past 11 years, I’ve packed four hospital bags and will be packing my fifth soon. Through those experiences, it’s safe to say I’ve just about mastered choosing the best hospital snacks for labor and delivery. 

Here are my must-have healthy snacks to pack for the hospital: 

Crackers

Any cracker will likely satisfy your hunger and give you carbs for energy. Even goldfish crackers can be a satisfying hospital bag snack. But I prefer healthier options full of whole grains and protein.

Some of my favorite crackers to pack are almond crackers, whole grain crackers, or peanut butter sandwich crackers.

Granola Bars 

Granola bars are often a filling, healthy snack. Many are packed with whole grains or nuts to give you the energy boost and extra calories you need. Just be sure to select one low in sugar and high in protein. 

Trail Mix 

An easy snack to throw in your bag is trail mix. Full of nuts, dried fruit, and maybe a few yummy treats, this great snack will help curb hunger. Nuts like almonds, cashews, or walnuts are also full of healthy fats which may help boost your milk production. 

You can easily make your own trail mix ahead of time. Pick your favorite plain nuts or seeds, add some dried fruit or coconut flakes, and throw in something sweet like chocolate. You can portion out servings in ziplock bags and have them ready to grab.

Applesauce Pouches

Applesauce pouches are a great snack to throw in your labor bag for giving birth. These healthy snacks are much easier to eat than applesauce cups and require no spoon. You can easily suck down a pouch with one hand.

Kale Chips

If you’re looking for labor bag snack ideas that will provide nutritional value and a satisfying crunch, kale chips should be on your list. Kale chips are great snacks for laboring moms who are craving something salty. They give you a similar satisfaction to eating a potato chip but without guilt.

Fruit Cups

Fruit cups are a good alternative when fresh fruits aren’t an option. They are shelf-stable but still provide some nutrition. This might be a good hospital snack for after labor and in between hospital meals.

Oatmeal Cups

While oatmeal cups aren’t a typical hospital bag snack, this convenient snack is great for after labor. Oatmeal is full of protein and is one of many healthy snacks for breastfeeding mothers. It’s one of the items I eat a lot of in the early days of nursing.

Plus, if the hospital breakfast doesn’t sound appetizing, you can use this as an alternative. Hot water can be requested in your recovery hospital room to add to the oatmeal.

Rice Cakes

Rice cakes are one of the best snacks for your hospital bag. They are versatile, tasty, and provide a satisfying crunch. Pair them with packs of nut butter and honey sticks for a tasty treat that’s full of protein. 

Energy Bites

Energy bites can be found pre-made at your local grocery store but you can also make your own. Many recipes include items like peanut or almond butter, chia seeds, protein powder, and natural sweeteners. All of these items will give moms the burst of energy they need for active labor. 

Beef or Turkey Jerky

There are plenty of great options for healthy beef jerky or turkey jerky thanks to healthy food trends. Beef jerky that is made with real meat and little sweeteners will provide maximum nutrition for a hungry mom.

Fruit Leather

Fruit leather made from 100% fruit is a convenient way to consume fruits during labor. Unlike fruit cups, this option doesn’t require a spoon. The natural sugar content in the fruit will likely give you a little energy boost as the sweetness satisfies your cravings.

Nut Butter Packs

Though a jar of peanut butter and a spoon might be exactly what a starving mom needs, it’s just not realistic. Thankfully, nut butter packs are typically available in your favorite grocery store. These convenient packs can be combined with rice cakes, crackers, honey sticks, or just eaten alone.

Protein Bars

You’ll rarely find me without a protein bar in my purse at any given time. So this was a no-brainer to pack for my hospital stay. You can find a variety of protein bars on grocery store shelves, and many of them are full of protein and healthy fats.

Hummus

Most of us think of hummus as being a perishable item. But now you can purchase shelf-stable hummus cups. These are good snacks to pack in your hospital bag as it’s high in protein. 

Most hospitals will have fresh vegetable items you can request for dipping into the hummus like baby carrots or cherry tomatoes.

Popcorn

Similar to rice cakes, this healthy snack is a great hospital bag snack. It provides a crunch and salty flavor but is made with whole grains. It’s also perfect for munching with one hand.

My favorite varieties of popcorn are ones that include healthy oils and sea salt. The fat from the oils helps with milk production after labor as well. 

Pregnant woman preparing pack of snacks.

How to Pack Snacks for Your Hospital Bag

When I pack a hospital bag, I like to keep my snacks separate so I can easily find them. There’s nothing like hitting a hunger meltdown moment and having to dig to the bottom of your bag to find food.

In the past, I’ve used gallon-size ziplock bags to keep my snacks organized and easy to find. You can also pack a small lunchbox to bring along with you.

FAQs

Will the hospital provide food? 

Many first-time parents find themselves wondering what the hospital provides after birth. You’ll be pleased to know that 3 meals a day will be provided for at least the new mother, and sometimes the father, after delivery. 

Some hospitals have decent-quality food, while others leave a lot to be desired. This is another reason why having snacks in your hospital bag can be helpful.

Which foods can help induce labor?

Ask a group of parents for their best suggestions for inducing labor, and you’ll likely get many bizarre answers like curb walking to induce labor. Some of these suggestions might include foods that they swear brought on labor. Unfortunately, there is little research to back many of these conclusions. 

Nevertheless, it can’t hurt to try, especially if you’re wondering how to speed up labor after losing your mucus plug. The most commonly suggested foods to induce labor are:

  • Pineapple 
  • Spicy foods 
  • Dates 
  • Eggplant 
  • Balsamic vinegar

Dates might be one food especially worth trying. A 2011 study by Al-Kuran, et al found that women who consumed dates during pregnancy had a decreased need for Pitocin to induce labor and an increase in cervical dilation. 

When is the best time to pack your pregnancy hospital bag?

In my experience, having your bag packed earlier rather than later is much better. Not only will it reduce your stress, but it will also come in handy in the case of early labor. 

My first daughter came three weeks early, and had I not already packed, I would’ve been frazzled. Trying to pack a bag while you are contracting or your water is leaking, is not a pleasant experience. Pack your bag early so you feel confident and prepared. 

What are the best drinks to have while in labor?

Water is the best drink to have during labor because it will keep you hydrated. Carbonated flavored water might be a good option if you feel nauseous during labor. Also, coconut water is full of vitamins and electrolytes that can be helpful during labor and delivery as well. 

You will want to avoid sugary drinks as they can deplete your energy sources. It’s best to avoid the following drinks:  

  • Sweet tea
  • Lemonade
  • Soda
  • Fruit juices with added sugar
Healthy Snacks to Have in Your Hospital Bag for Labor & Recovery


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