I’ve always felt like packing your hospital bag is one of those last nesting projects before things start to feel super real. Do you agree or do you find it stressful?
If you’re reading this with a bag that is mid-pack, you’ve probably already packed your favorite toiletries and a pair of comfy pants and nursing tops–but what about when your labor has been 19 hours long and you’re starving? Or when it hits 9:00 pm, you’ve just delivered, the cafeteria is closed, your nurses are busy, and your partner is bonding with the new baby?
Yep, that’s right. We’ve got to talk about snacks to pack in your hospital bag.
Cue the second bag that’s almost as important as the main bag itself. It includes your arsenal of snacks that will not only satisfy a variety of cravings, but will also pack a punch of protein or (possibly) support milk production. You deserve to eat well when laboring and birthing and packing snacks is a great way that your present self can help take care of your future self.
Haven’t started packing that hospital bag yet? No worries! Check out this post to get started.
Who is The Labor Mama and Why Am I Here?
Hey friend! I’m Lo – also known around here and social media as The Labor Mama. I’ve spent my nursing career in labor, delivery, and postpartum, have birthed 3 of my own babies, have labored thousands of mamas at the bedside, have taught hundreds of students online, and have even delivered a few speedy little babies with my bare hands (oops).
Here at TLM, I offer online birth classes to empower you the way everyone should be. The education + support I offer gives you experience, evidence, and empathy; you’re getting all of my years of “clinical” RN knowledge, beautifully combined with my real experiences as a mama and a nurse. These are not your hospital birth classes (those won’t do it, I promise), and honestly, birth doesn’t follow a textbook or protocol anyway – you need to know so much more than that.
If you want to connect with me further, head to Instagram. There are hundreds of thousands of us over there learning together daily.
Can you eat during labor?
🛑 Hold on. I’m going to guess that someone has told you that you can’t eat during labor. Want to know more? I go into this (somewhat) controversial topic more in this post–check it out! (Cliff notes version? Evidence does NOT support withholding food and drink from the vast majority of those in labor! But go read the post to really understand what’s up so you can have good convos with your provider about it.
18 best snacks to pack for labor and birth
Ok, let’s get to the list of ideas. You’ll see I’ve broken it down into some “fresh” ideas and some “anytime” ideas. I’d also encourage you to eat as you are able to at home before you go to the hospital! I love options like scrambled eggs, oatmeal, toast with nut butters, or smoothies.
5 fresh snacks for your hospital bag
To keep everything fresh, toss it in a lunchbox or small cooler (I’ve been using this one for years; it doubles as my “traveling with breastmilk” cooler. I love the black and white striped one too)!Of course, this is a great job to give dad, partner, or whatever support person you’ve got around.
- Cheese: Sucker for a charcuterie? Bring your favorite cheese in a baggie or container to have an extra delicious source of protein and calcium on hand. I always think string cheese is a great, easy option too.
- Strawberries, grapes, or blueberries: These teensy fruits aren’t normally offered fresh at the hospital, so bringing them with you (depending on what you enjoy) is a great idea.
- Carrot sticks with a dip you love: Tiny little containers of hummus or guac? Sign. Yourself. Up.
- Muffins or energy bites: These can be store-bought or homemade, but a filling and carb-y option like muffins or protein bites/balls is the perfect pumping or nursing snack. Check out this blog post for some of my favorite energy bites!
- Dates: Read more about how dates can help (and have a handful while you read this) here.
13 anytime snacks for your hospital bag
Ten snacks to pack anytime (seriously–read on and pack them up when you finish this list!) And as a little aside? Check out Stasher reusable bags…I LOVE them for all of the snacky stages of motherhood.
- Trail mix: Find your favorite or make a mixture of nuts, seeds, and chocolates yourself for a snack that’s both protein-rich and delicious.
- Crackers: If you’re a cheese-and-cracker kind of person, it’ll feel almost luxurious (read: almost) to have a small selection of cheese and crackers in a ziploc or leftover container to eat postpartum.
- Freeze dried fruit: Freeze dried anything is SO popular right now, and for good reason: fruit in particular has that perfect tang and crunch that’ll satisfy a sweets craving after you have your babe.
- Jerky: Whether you eat meat or you prefer your jerky to be of the fruit variety, this is another great source of protein to replenish your body’s energy stores after giving birth.
- Gum: 3 reasons I love gum: 1) Helps the stinky, mouth breathing, labor breath, 2) It can actually be a great distraction, and 3) It helps with the really normal dry mouth experienced during labor. Even better for my evidence loving brain? Chewing gum may actually lower your experience of pain. Postpartum bonus tip? Chewing gum can help with post-birth gas pains, especially common after a cesarean birth.
- Honey sticks: I feel like these show up on every packing list I’ve ever seen from a doula! But honestly, I think we should all be recommending them. They are so easy to eat, and such a nice natural pop of sugar and energy. I’ve never seen them in groceries stores like Safeway or HEB, but Amazon always has options like these. I also love that you can get flavored options too.
- Hard candies: Labor can cause SO much dry mouth, so having something to keep the mouth moist and taste better than it might otherwise is a must in my opinion. Peppermints, Werthers, Jolly Ranchers – things like that! Toss a handful in your labor bag so you can pop them in when you’re needing it.
- Water add-ins: You’ll be hydrating like crazy after having your baby, and you might as well bring a little dash of something to make your water taste better. Liquid IV and Stur are great options for this! Coconut water is a fav of mine too if regular water isn’t your jam.
- Chips or popcorn: Because you’re a human being who’s allowed to crave something, bring a small bag of your favorite chips or popcorn to stave off the salty cravings. A big bag is a great purchase to make for home, but keep the salt intake low right after labor and delivery to ensure you stay feeling well and so you don’t exacerbate any of the normal fluid retention and postpartum swelling.
- Nut butter: Smear some nut butter of your choice on a free banana or apple from the hospital, and you’ve got something that’s both sweet and protein-rich! The hospital can often make you some toast too, so you can smear it on some of that. One of my fav options in easy to squeeze packets? Justin’s Honey Peanut Butter. I love that addition of honey.
- Granola: Some granola sprinkled on hospital oatmeal or yogurt will make it feel like you’ve elevated your usually-bland-hospital-food game a notch.
- Dark chocolate: Aside from the antioxidants dark chocolate has, it’s just really tasty–and you deserve that!
- Dry cereal: Crunchy? Check. Sweet? Check. Easy to store, pack, and inhale as a treat postpartum? Triple check. Want it with milk? We stocked our labor/postpartum fridge with those classic little milk boxes (like the school lunch kind). I’m going to bet your RN can get you some!
→ Bonus snack! I really love lactation cookies and I think they’re a great snack for labor or postpartum! I love this recipe! The cookies are something I eat in the middle of the night or grab for a quick breakfast. Just don’t overcook them – that’s the secret for sure.
The takeaway on packing hospital bag snacks
Snacks can’t guarantee everything will go smoothly for you during labor or postpartum. But, I think having a variable you can control (and one that offers comfort the way food can!) might be the difference between a mediocre hospital stay and one that feels like you’re taking extra good care of yourself in your body. Any chance you get to care for you is a worthwhile one.
What do you think? Did you pack any of these? What would you add to the list or what did you bring that I’m missing? Let me know in the comments, please! xx- Lo
More resources (and freebies!) for you to take a peek at:
- Comprehensive Birth Plan and Birth Priorities templates
- A complete Third Trimester Checklist
- The RN + mama of 3 Ultimate Packing List
- The Labor Mama online birthing classes for every family
A note: This post may include affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase after clicking a link, I will earn a small commission (thank you)! Rest assured, this comes at no additional cost to you. You can read TLM’s full disclosure here.