Inside: Wondering what are good snacks to bring to the hospital for labor? Here’s a list of the best healthy snacks to pack in your hospital bag – some to pack with a cooler, and other non-perishables you can pack in advance. Because contrary to the advice of some, hospital bag snacks are a mama’s best friend (and dad will thank you, too)!
A simple Google search for snacks for your hospital bag yields some interesting results. Some moms, for instance, claim that those snacks will sit unused at the bottom of your hospital bag.
Everyone is entitled to her own opinion of course, but I wholeheartedly disagree.
Depending on your hospital’s rules and the quality of the hospital food, bringing your own snacks can be a total life-saver! Personally, I gave birth in city hospitals, and the food was pretty good.
But there is really no way of knowing how good the hospital food is going to be unless a friend goes ahead of you and confirms it rocks, or you happen to know someone who works there.
Also, while you may or may not be able to eat during labor at the hospital, you can definitely eat afterwards.
And of course, dad can definitely eat. Not packing hospital snacks for dad is a major mistake, so even if you think YOU won’t eat them, please, please pack snacks in your hospital bag for your spouse or birth partner!
Now that I’ve defended the idea that yes, you should bring food to the hospital when having a baby (because you just never know when they’ll save your new mom life), I’ll give you the best snack ideas for your hospital bag.
But first, I know this question is probably on your mind if you’re wondering what snacks to take to the hospital for labor…
“Can you even DO that?!”
Do Hospitals Even Allow Snacks During Labor?
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So is hospital snacks for labor even a thing? I definitely remember eating a Chipotle burrito during my first labor…not sure if that was the best idea I ever had or if I was technically supposed to do that or not – probably not?
I do know that I was HUNGRY, because my water had broken around 9 p.m. the night before and I hadn’t eaten much before heading to the hospital around 2 a.m.
I’m pretty sure that if you’re pursuing natural birth and using a birth center, they would encourage you to have labor snacks if you felt hungry, but don’t quote me on that one.
With a little research about hospital births, however, it appears that the majority of hospitals still seem to discourage – or not allow at all – snacks once you’ve started active labor.
Why? Because if for any reason you need an emergency c-section with general anesthesia, having food in your stomach puts you at risk for aspirating that partially digested food during surgery.
Apparently, pregnant women are more vulnerable to aspiration than most due to the baby pushing the stomach upward towards the lungs, and increased levels of progesterone (source).
Another great reason to delay going in as much as possible OR use a birth center, instead.
Make sure you ask the hospital you’re using whether or not they allow snacks during labor.
Regardless of whether they do or don’t, you still want to pack hospital snacks for dad and for you post-delivery.
The Best Snacks for Your Hospital Bag
The best snacks for your hospital bag really depends on which part of labor you’re in, what your preferences are, and if you’re already at the hospital or not.
I did my best to stay home as long as possible so that I could eat and drink and move freely in the comfort of my own home. So, some of the snacks that I recommend to eat during labor would be easier to prepare at home.
At some points during labor, I was ravenous and wanted something hearty and salty. Other times, I wanted something lighter and on the sweet side.
Who knows? You may not even be hungry during labor at all.
I just ate little bits as needed and followed my body’s cues. I recommend doing the same!
Please Note: I am in no way a medical professional. The advice on this blog is to be viewed as opinion only and NOT to be used in place of a medical professional. Please consult your physician about snacks during labor before you make plans to do so.
During early labor, you will want your snacks and meals to be high in carbs, protein, fats, and deliciousness to get you through the hours ahead.
Follow your body’s cues for what it needs.
Craving something lighter? Have a muffin or yogurt.
Needing something more substantial? Eggs, cheese, and trail mix might be better.
Final Note: You obviously don’t need to pack everything on this list. Choose 4-5 options you think you and your birth partner will actually eat.
But for the record, I did NOT pack enough good snacks in my labor bag. And I was SAD (so was my husband, hence the Chipotle). So when in doubt, err on the side of too many snacks – if you don’t eat them all, oh well.
On to the giant list of good snacks for your hospital bag…
Any kind of muffin will do – if you are super health-conscious, your choice here probably matters more!
You can make muffins in advance, but it’s so hard to predict when labor will actually start. And honestly, unless you love to bake, why bother?
Instead, have your partner stop by the local grocery store to round up these snacks, and choose a package of muffins from the bakery section.
2. Trail Mix
Trail mix definitely qualifies as a good hospital snack.
You can purchase a pre-mixed store-bought trail mix, or purchase the ingredients separately. Typical ingredients include:
- Peanuts or other nut
- Chocolate or M&Ms
Make sure to store in a large air-tight container, or divide into separate Ziploc bags for easy grab and go snacks.
Trail mix doesn’t sound appealing? Stick with plain nuts instead.
Peanuts, almonds, cashews. Whatever you prefer! These will keep a long time, so pack them in advance with the rest of your hospital bag essentials.
Individual greek or regular yogurt cups are great choices. The hospital will likely have spoons, but you can pack a few or your own, just in case.
If you want a truly easy yogurt option, Stonyfield makes delicious organic yogurt tubes for kids (I know, I know, this isn’t school lunch, but they are convenient!). You can also freeze them beforehand and let them thaw on your way to the hospital.
5. Applesauce Pouches
Speaking of school lunch…Go Go Squeeze Applesauce pouches are pretty darn good and easy to toss in your hospital bag. My favorite is cinnamon, but they come in a variety of flavors.
They taste much better chilled, so keep them in the fridge until you need them.
6. Trim Healthy Mama Pancakes
Easy and portable, these pancakes can be made in advance, and even frozen and thawed in advance!
Powdered sugar is a great substitute for syrup.
7. Fresh or Dried Fruit
Try to choose fruits that won’t bruise easily in your hospital bag OR pack them in plastic containers to avoid bruising.
Things like clementines, apples, or fresh grapes that have been washed and dried in advance are all great choices!
Avoid bananas, which can spoil and bruise easily no matter what you do.
Dried fruit, like dried mango or banana chips, can be a much better option as it’s more portable and won’t spoil over the course of your hospital visit. Freeze-dried fruit is another great option – pricey, but tasty.
Labor can take 1-2 days (hopefully not!), and if you end up having a c-section, it is recommend that you hospital stay be 3-4 days.
If you do choose to pack fresh fruit, make sure to eat it first.
8. Cheese Sticks
Cheese sticks are super portable, although as with fresh fruit, you’ll want to consume this one pretty early on at the hospital (or dad will).
If your only experience with cheese sticks is string cheese, revisit these! They have come a long way since then.
They are an amazing breastfeeding snack, too!
If you haven’t already checked out Trader Joe’s cheese stick selection, it’s amazing. But most conventional grocery stores also have a decent variety.
9. Hard-Boiled Eggs
Hard-boiled eggs are an amazing snack! If you love them, you probably already have a go-to recipe.
If you need a recipe, I recommend using this hard-boiled egg recipe for perfect hard-boiled eggs.
Pack tightly in a container to avoid smells escaping into your hospital bag…or possibly worse, your hospital room?
10. Veggies & Hummus
There’s nothing easier than baby carrots and individual hummus packs.
You can always cut up another vegetable, but this one is the easiest option.
Avoid acidic options like grape tomatoes – they may be easy to pack, but not so easy on your stomach during labor!
11. Granola Bars
Pick your favorite, and stock up! These will come in handy when you bring baby home, too, as an easy snack to grab while caring for your newborn.
You cannot have too many granola bars. Seriously.
Some of our favorites are:
- Kind Bars
- Cliff Bars
- Nature Valley Bars
12. Energy Bites
These delicious little balls pack a powerful energy punch and are easy to make ahead, freeze or store in the fridge.
Another one that’s o.k. to stock up on, since they are also a perfect breastfeeding snack!
13. Peanut Butter & Pretzels
The marketing geniuses of the world decided to make individual cups of just about everything, including peanut butter.
So grab some peanut butter cups and a bag of pretzels or crackers (regular or snack-size), and toss them in your hospital bag in advance!
This, plus granola bars, literally got us through early labor. Super easy to pack with a variety of options (I recommend THIS kind), this is another hospital bag snack you can pack in advance.
15. Simple Sandwiches
Peanut butter and jam or peanut butter and nutella sandwiches offer a protein and carb duo for a burst of energy when you need it!
Be sure to pack in a hard container so these don’t get squashed in your labor bag. No one likes a squashed sandwich, amiright?
16. Oatmeal On-the-Go Cups
Another delicious Trim Healthy Mama recipe, these oatmeal cups contain oatmeal, bananas, frozen blueberries, vanilla, and egg whites.
Get the recipe HERE, combine, and bake in muffin tins at 425 degrees.
17. Vitamin Water or Gatorade
Alright, this is not a snack, but it’s nice to have a healthy alternative to water during labor and afterwards.
Go with whichever option you like better!
Hydration is SO important for a good labor and delivery and good milk supply afterward. If you don’t like flavored drinks, make sure to drink a ton of water.
How to Pack Your Hospital Bag Snacks
I’ve already mentioned taking care to pack certain snacks on this list, but keep the following in mind as well:
1. Include an ice pack in a insulated lunch bag with perishables.
Stock up on a few ice packs. Packing ice cubes in ziplocs will go badly and leak water all over your food – yuck (ask me how I know).
2. Pack snacks separately in a hard container to avoid them getting squished.
The obvious things like sandwiches or hard-boiled eggs that you don’t want squashed, but even granola bars or nuts can suffer from sinking the bottom of your hospital bag.
Use a portable, insulated, cooler like THIS one. It’s soft-sided and collapsible, but provides enough support on the top and bottom to keep your soft foods safe.
If you don’t already have one, now’s the time!
These are perfect for everything from picnics to car trips to transporting pumped breastmilk home from work.
Packing Snacks Could Make or Break Your Hospital Stay
I’m joking…but kind of not.
Again, depending on the quality of the hospital food, your hospital stay may be improved a gazillion times by remembering to pack these snacks in your hospital bag!
I hope the hospital food is amazing…but if it’s not, I hope these snacks get you through labor, delivery and recovery.
Did I miss an amazing hospital bag snack? Share your idea in the comments!
June could talk to you all day about homeschooling, parenting, and minimalism. When she’s not homeschooling, decluttering, or blogging, she loves to enjoy perfect silence while sipping a hot cup of coffee and thinking uninterrupted thoughts—which, of course, with five kids ten and under doesn’t happen very often.