My friend Dorit says that pregnancy lasts for 8 months and one year. When my pregnancy reached that stage, I completely understood what she was saying. The ninth month is the most difficult time (especially when in August). And as you get near your due date, you feel that you really had enough of it. The fetus is already in the pelvis area and presses the colon, which may cause constipation and hemorrhoids. You can ease it by eating plenty of fruit and vegetables: at least 3 portions of vegetables and 2 portions of fruit a day. Most recommended are fruits with a laxative effect like prunes and dried figs. Any other laxative is subjected to medical counselling. Most of them are prohibited during pregnancy.
No matter though how many prunes we eat, if there isn't much drinking, nothing goes. How much is enough? The best indication is the color of the urine. It should be as light as possible (get the blue stuff out of the bowl) and drinking 1.5 liter usually helps, depending on the season and the activity level. It is highly important to watch your drinking, since too little causes contractions, and many pre-term labors have begun because of dehydration.
The pressure our little tyke puts on our stomach might cause lack of appetite and a fullness sensation. However, it is still very important to keep providing the body all the nutrients it needs. Just spread them on many mini-meals during the day.
As you approach your due day, you should play it safe and avoid foods that you are not used to consume on a regular basis. Isn't it a shame to get food poisoning or to find out (wirth bad timing) that you are allergic to sushi?
A notice worthy fact is that a few days before delivery there might be changes in our bowell habits. Many women report diarrhea. If we didn’t eat anything unusual, it is easier to track down the real reason, and get ready to the idea of labor
Approaching.What to eat in this kind of state? Easily digestible foods such as bread, cheese (white), cucumber, cooked vegetables like carrot,zucchini squash, rice, pasta, potato, unfried chicken, apple, banana or pear.
When contractions have started and are quite regular you begin to realize that the baby is on its way. This is the time to eat a light meal, in order to supply ourself with fuel for the huge effort our body is about to go through. The best foods to focus on are bread, cheese, yougurt, avocado, fruit, and even a nice piece of sponge cake.
What should we pack to the delivery room? As a matter of fact, the issue whether or not to eat during labor is contraversial between obstetricians and midwives worldwide.
According to a survey conducted in the Netherlands, 75% of the doctors and midwives leave the decision to the mother, should she consume food and fluids. About a fifth of them ban any food or drink during labor.
According to a joint data collection by nine nurse-midwifery practices in the United States in 1996 on more than 3300 women, the majority of women ingested only clear fluids in labor (i.e, water or juice). Over one fourth consumed nonclear liquids (e.g, dairy drinks) or solid foods, and fasting was rare.
The question whether or not to eat during labor is very individual; not every woman feels a need to eat, and may feel the opposite: nausea and vomiting. Everything depends, of course, on the length of the labor. First labors are usually longer and demand a huge effort. In this case, the body needs a refill of its energy stores, just like a marathon runner.
Fruit juice, especially grape juice, can supply an almost immediate energy, since the sugar in it is absorbed to the blood almost instantly.
Grape juice is recommended also because it does not cause a burning sensation coming up, if vomiting occurs. It is important though to drink a white grape juice and not red, since the tanins in the red may inhibit blood clotting, and you wouldn’t like that to happen during labor.
A bite here and there from toast, a slice of bread or cracker with jam can also keep a steady level of blood sugar and prevent hunger.
Some recommend taking chocolate to the delivery room: for the new excited father, to the staff and, of course, to the mother. Eating chocolate increases excretion of endorphins in the brain. These substances make us feel as if we are in love every time we take a bite of this brown slippery goody. Another perk endorphins give us is pain-killing. Can`t hurt now can it? Sugar and caffeine, also found in chocolate, can give us an energy boost, and some recommend giving sweetened coffee during long labors.
Even a lollypop can provide sugar, and so can a popsicle. At any rate, it`s important not to consume too much of the candy family, since it can get you the opposite effect: the sharp and quick increase of blood sugar causes insulin excretion which in turn lowers blood sugar by getting it into body cells. That leavs us with a low blood sugar and a fatigue sensation, plus weakness, hunger and a bad mood.
Those who oppose eating during labor justify their stand according to the following reasons:
1. In case of a complication (God forbid) and a need of respirating, the acidic content of the stomach can be aspirated to the lungs, hurt it and create a pneumonia, a state called Mendelson Syndrome.
2. In case of a need of a c-section,it is better to be in a fasting state.
Those who are in favor of eating during labor give couner points:
1. Avoiding eating does not reduce the minimal volume of acidic fluids in the stomach. Even if we fast there will still be 25 mililiters and such a volume can also be inhaled, so fasting is ineffective anyway.
2. An empty stomach contains a stronger acid that a food containing one.
3. In long labors, during which the body needs energy supply, hunger is the most unpleasant feeling for the mother, and therefore, it is best to eat.
4. Acconding to research, eating has a positive effect on the progression of labor.
5. In the Netherlands, where, as mentioned before, the policy is very liberal, the mortality rate from Mendelson Syndrome is not higher than in other countries.
Like any other theoretical question about labor (taking epidural?, natural birth?, etc.) reality will determine whether or not you will eat. As we could see, in most cases, the decision is ours to make.
Most importantly, good luck!
Tova Krause is a clinical dietitian. For counselling or lectures on this or other topics in nutrition, 09-9505079 ,
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