The moments leading to your labor induction can be nerve wracking and exciting at the same time. At this point, you’re most likely stressed thinking of what to expect during your induction and trying to figure out if you have gotten everything you would need for your induction to make your labor and delivery as perfect or near perfect as possible.
It can be scary not knowing what to expect during your induction, and you will feel better prepared when those burning questions are answered. Some of the thoughts that run through the minds of expectant mothers scheduled for induction include the dos and don’ts before your labor induction. Questions like “how long before an induction should I stop eating?” has got many mums worried as to whether it would affect their labor induction.
How long you should stop eating before an induction varies from mother to mother and depends on the nature of your induction and the reason for your induction.
- What is labor induction?
- Can I eat before labor induction?
- How long before my labor induction should I stop eating?
Table of Contents
What is an Induction of Labor?
Labor induction is a medical procedure which is aimed at stimulating contractions in your uterus before natural labor kicks in. It is more like inducing natural labor to ensure a safe vaginal delivery of your little one.
One of the ways you may be induced is by an infusion of oxytocin which works by activating the contractile muscles of your uterus resulting in regular uterine contractions to help speed up your baby’s arrival.
In What Situation Would Labor Be Induced?
Labor induction can be done for a number of reasons, some of which includes:
- If for personal reasons, you request that your labor be induced
- If there is a delay in the arrival of natural labor causing your baby to stay longer than she should
- If you live far from your hospital and would be unable to make it to the hospital in time once natural labor sets in
- If the doctor has observed that your baby is growing too slowly
- If your water has broken and contractions have not yet begun
- If your baby’s amniotic fluid is low, a condition known as oligohydramnios
- If you have an infection in your uterus, a condition known as chorioamnionitis
- If you have a chronic illness like diabetes, hypertension etc.
In all, your doctor will inform you and explain to you the reason why your labor is going to be induced, the risks associated with induction, the benefits of induction and will advise you on all you need to do to prepare for it. However, the final decision rests with you. If you feel uncomfortable going through labor induction, your healthcare team will be there with you to explain things further to you. If you still don’t feel comfortable with it, you have every right to say no, as they need your consent to proceed with the induction.
Can I Eat Before Labor Induction?
Yes, you can eat before your labor induction to help you get enough calories and energy you would need during labor. It is important to get enough food the day before your induction and a few hours before your induction so you won’t run the risk of being hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) or weak during labor.
What Can I Eat Before an Induction?
Before your labor induction, you should aim to eat a healthy and balanced diet. You should aim for light meals that are easy to digest so you don’t have to deal with indigestion or even aspiration during labor.
Some important food classes to include to you pre-induction diet include:
This class of food is called the energy giving food class for a reason. They load you with enough calories and energy to keep you going strong during the period of labor. Examples of foods containing carbohydrates that are great to take before labor induction includes; noodles, bread, potatoes etc.
The protein class of food is an important part of your pre-induction diet. Proteins will help you feel full, satisfied and less hungry during labor. Some food sources containing proteins that are great additions to your pre-induction diet includes; tofu strips, grilled skinless chicken, canned salmon, scrambled eggs etc.
Fruits are a great source of nutrients which are lightweight and a great addition to your pre-induction diet. Some fruits to take include grapes, pineapples, watermelons etc. These fruits can help keep you hydrated and energized for labor.
Other foods to eat before your labor induction includes:
Low fat meals
Foods high in fats take longer to digest and it is not advisable to be taken before labor induction as the risk of indigestion and aspiration is higher.
Low fiber meals
Foods that have a low fiber content are recommended to be included in your pre-induction diet. This is because fiber exerts its effects on your digestive system which may cause you some discomfort during labor. Although fiber is a great component of a regular diet, this period of labor can cause stress and your body, and our aim is to not add any more to the discomfort your body is already going through.
What Can I Eat the Night Before My Induction?
It depends on the time of the day your labor induction is scheduled to be held. If your labor induction is set for early the next morning, it is advisable for you to eat a light dinner the night before. Keeps meals simple and light avoiding foods that are difficult to digest such as fats.
If your labor is set for the night of the next day, you can eat your regular everyday dinner and keep things light a few hours before your induction the next day.
What Can I Eat the Morning of My Induction?
What you eat the morning of your induction is very important. Not eating anything is not advisable as you need all the energy for labor. Also, eating too much is not recommended as over feeding or eating foods containing fat that are not easily digested can cause discomfort during labor and also increase your risk of aspiration.
What is recommended is light meals containing more carbohydrates, small protein portions and some fruits. Keep it simple and light.
How Long Before Labor Induction Should I Stop Eating?
Most doctors would recommend you stop food intake once contractions begin, while some other doctors recommend you go on a short fast on the day of your labor induction. The reason for the food restriction is to reduce your risk of aspiration, that is, regurgitated food entering your airway, causing infections and difficulty breathing.
How long to stop eating before your labor induction varies from woman to woman and will depend on your doctor’s assessment of the risk that your induction carries.
Can I Eat During Labor Induction?
Some doctors will discourage eating during labor induction because of the risk of aspiration, however, this isn’t standard practice as many women during labor are allowed to snack lightly to boost energy levels. In uncomplicated labor inductions, eating light snacks during labor is okay and is advised if you are losing strength or feeling weak. However, in complicated cases like mothers with medical conditions or obesity, eating during labor is not allowed.
All in all, your doctor is in the best position to assess your risk and advise you on whether you could eat during labor.
Labor induction is great as it avails you time to prepare and know what to expect and when to expect it. I understand that it’s almost impossible to be completely labor ready, especially for new moms, but knowing what to expect can help ease some of the tension.
Eating before your labor induction is recommended as labor is an energy intensive process that requires you to depend on your body’s glucose stores. So, it is good that you fuel up in preparation. The types of food you eat in the hours before your labor induction is equally important.
Nancy M.D. is a health practitioner, pediatrician and medical writer, who is dedicated to fostering awareness, and lending a helping hand to humanity at large.