22 BEST Hospital Snacks for Labor (& after!)

hospital snacks for labor

The Best Snacks For Your Hospital bag

First, I want to say congrats on your pregnancy! Also, I want to say kudos for being proactive and thinking ahead about the best hospital snacks for labor!

You would have thought that–working at the hospital– I would know what options would be available and what snacks were available at the food court for my hubby to grab. 

HUGE fail on my part.

For some reason, pregnancy snuck up on me. Before I knew it, I had my bags packed (half-assed) and was heading to the hospital to meet my boy.

It wasn’t until after leaving the hospital that I realized how helpful packing hospital snacks for labor would be. I’ve been to countless labor and delivery rooms and definitely have seen some clever ideas that really made me a little jealous that it wasn’t my idea. 

So — without further ado — I want to provide you with some ideas for the best snacks to bring to the hospital for labor. 

Can You Have Snacks Before Labor?

When I went to the hospital with my second son, I had a planned induction to begin at 05:45 A.M. My doctor advised me to eat a large, early morning breakfast because I could have only ice chips once I arrived and throughout labor until after I delivered. 

Most hospitals do not allow food or strongly discourage snacking once active labor begins. This is because, in the event of an emergency C-section, you may be put under general anesthesia.

Having food in your belly during a procedure where you’re put under anesthesia can lead to nausea or pulmonary aspiration, which happens when food gets inhaled into the lungs.

Moreover, many experts consider pregnant women to be at a higher risk for aspiration because:

  • An enlarged uterus puts pressure on the stomach
  • Progesterone, or the pregnancy hormone, can cause the muscle at the bottom of the esophagus to relax, which can lead to a higher probability of food entering the windpipe

However, some facilities are now allowing pregnant women to sip on popsicles, jello, and other clear liquids before their little one’s grand appearance. 

A study from 2015 suggests that healthy women who have low-risks pregnancies might actually benefit from a light meal to give them energy during childbirth. Because — pushing out a tiny human is a whole damn job, and labor can be a long process!

Many birthing centers are much more relaxed with their food rules.

If you deliver at a hospital, you’ll likely be there for a minimum of two days, so snacks for your hospital bag are absolutely essential.

The Best Snacks For Your Hospital Bag

Whew! We’ve finally made it to the main event. Ultimately, the best snacks to bring to the hospital for labor depend on whether you’re using a birthing center or hospital, the stage of labor you’re in, and if you are having a C-Section. 

Here are the best snacks for your hospital bag for labor.

Dark Chocolate

A woman loses around 500 mL with a vaginal delivery and 1,000 mL, or about a quart, during a C-section.

In some cases, there may be more blood loss which can lead to postpartum iron deficiency anemia (low iron). 

Postpartum iron deficiency anemia can increase symptoms related to stress, anxiety, and depression.

Dark chocolate is not only delicious, but it’s also a good source of iron. In fact, a one-ounce serving contains around 3.3 milligrams of iron, which is about 18% of the Recommended Daily Intake.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Energy Balls

This one was one of the ones I kicked myself for not bringing. After pushing out a baby, I wanted a decadent, salty-sweet treat. I didn’t want a hospital meal or the pre-packaged Doritos downstairs.

I’ve been on a real energy ball kick lately. They’re delicious and healthy for any time — but they especially would have hit the spot after labor. 

Here’s a recipe I love to use. It includes dates, peanut butter, rolled oats, mini chocolate chips, salt, and cocoa powder. Making them in bulk and freezing them is the simplest way to keep a lot on hand! 

Pregnant woman eating greek yogurt

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is such a fantastic snack for labor. It’s got nearly twice as much protein as regular yogurt and is rich in probiotics. By the way— if you end up having to take antibiotics after labor like I did— you’ll fully benefit from Greek yogurt. 

If you’re starting to breastfeed, the health benefits of probiotics will also be passed down to your baby. You can also check out my post on the best protein powder for breastfeeding if you’re planning to breastfeed!

Lastly, probiotic supplements that rebalance the beneficial gut bacteria have been shown to help combat post-baby blues and depression.

Whole Fruit

Fresh, whole fruit is always good to have on hand. It’s easy to pack in your hospital bag, and most of it doesn’t require refrigeration.

Some of my favorites are apples, bananas, and oranges. 

Jello

If you’re at a facility that allows for clear liquids during active labor, bringing Jello is a must!

Most hospitals carry jello and would be more than happy to provide you with it, but it’s likely to be limited flavors. For example, the hospital I delivered at only stocked orange jello.

Because orange jello isn’t really my thing, I had to respectfully decline. Had I brought my own strawberry or watermelon flavored, it would have been a really nice treat to have while waiting on my post-delivery meal.

Hummus and Pretzels

Though it’s a little more expensive, I recommend buying individual hummus and pretzels or hummus and carrots.

It’s so much easier to transport, and the individual packs are easier to stay cold for a longer period of time. 

Hummus is chock-full of vitamins and minerals to help restore any nutrients that may have been lost during labor.

Trail Mix

Trail mix is always an easy, on-the-go snack that can help you have a boost of energy.

It offers a quick, crunchy snack that offers a combination of protein, fiber, and fats to help you feel your best.

I prefer to make my own since I’m picky about what ingredients I want in it, but you can choose store-bought or make your own to keep in your hospital room. 

Snacks for hospital bag. Energy bites, crackers, beef jerky, dry cereal, jello, almonds, dark chocolate, roasted chickpeas, string cheese, popsicles, granola bar, peanut butter

Whole Grain Veggie Chips

Any veggie crisps or chips that are light won’t weigh you down but can help satisfy a salty craving.

I personally love Off the Eaten Path Veggie Crisps. If you haven’t tried these. They are AMAZING.

Peanut butter pouches

Individual peanut butter pouches are easy to spread on whole-grain crackers or bread without making a huge mess. 

Plus, the pouches are small enough to store just about anywhere during your hospital stay. 

I personally keep them on me at all times for a quick pick me up when I’m feeling hangry to get me by until my next meal.

Crackers

Any kind of crackers is great to have on hand throughout your hospital stay. They have carbohydrates which are the body’s preferred source of energy, and can give you a quick boost.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Saltines
  • Blue Diamond Almond Nut Thins
  • Thrive Grain Free Tortilla Chips
  • Graham Crackers (pairs perfect with peanut butter)
  • Whole-grain crackers

Granola Bars

Granola bars are always on my list whenever I go anywhere and need to pack snacks.

They are a good source of fiber and protein and can help curb hunger until your next meal. Because those meal portions at the hospital can be small

Mommas gotta eat! 

Some of my favorite granola bars include:

Alternatively, you can make your own ahead of time if you’re feeling up to it! 

Peanut butter and toast

Pistachios

Pistachios are rich in healthy fat, fiber, and antioxidants to keep you satisfied.

They’re super easy to eat on the go and easy to store.

Oatmeal Cups

If you’re not digging the hospital breakfast, a backup plan is essential! 

Oatmeal cups are easy and convenient and only require hot water or a microwave that the floor you’re on will likely have.

Oats are extremely healthy and are a great source of a beneficial fiber known as beta-glucan that can help lower cholesterol levels and support a healthy immune function.

I like Bob’s Red Mill Organic Fruit and Seed Oatmeal Cup, KIND oatmeal, and RX A.M. Oats

Protein Shakes

There will be protein shakes at the hospital (AKA Boost and Ensure), but they may not have the flavor in stock you prefer. 

Plus, they’re usually not routinely stored on the Labor and Delivery Unit.

I like ICONIC Protein Drinks, Premier Protein, and Orgain Clean Protein shake

They’re easy on the go. We have the “sonic ice” at the hospital where I gave birth, and a protein shake poured atop ice really hit the spot when breakfast was a dud.

Almonds

Almonds are another easy on-the-go snack. I personally like to pair a handful with string cheese and find that it really satisfies me. You can buy the pre-packaged ones or a small tub. 

String Cheese

String cheese is just all-around great. But it’s fantastic and easy on the go. It makes for an excellent addition to snacks for your hospital bag (stored with ice packs).

Sports Drink

Right after labor, I felt super swollen from all of the IV fluids they pushed me with during labor, so I definitely wasn’t dehydrated. 

However, depending on your circumstance, you’ll want to remain hydrated throughout your stay. 

You may feel better after drinking a sports drink like Gatorade or Powerade during your stay. 

Canned Soup

Canned soup is always good to have on hand if you’re delivering in the winter months. It doesn’t require refrigeration and can be poured in a bowl and heated up in no time if you aren’t digging the cafeteria where you’re staying.

Tuna Pouches

Tuna pouches have been my go-to lately. They are so easy and convenient for a protein punch. Plus, it’s rich in Omega-3s that are important for brain function and help you maintain a healthy body.

I like the ones mixed with other flavors. The hickory-smoked Starkist is my favorite.

Roasted Chickpeas

Roasted chickpeas are an easy snack that you can prepare ahead of time at your house and keep in a ziplock bag during your stay. As long as they’re dry and crispy, they can be stored at room temp for several days.

Jerky

Beef or turkey jerky is packed with protein and can help satisfy hunger to get you through your stay at the hospital. It’s also high in zinc, iron, vitamin B12, phosphorus, and folate to nourish you after delivery.

Dry Cereal

Dry cereal is easy to throw in a Ziploc bag and great to snack on during your hospital stay. I personally love cheerios, Kashi’s whole grain puffs, and Wheaties.

How To Pack Hospital Snacks For Labor

The good news is, the majority of the snacks I’ve mentioned require very little storage, prep time, and refrigeration.

However, I suggest getting a large insulated lunch box with a good quality ice pack to keep any perishable food cold. 

Pregnant woman packing hospital bag

Helpful Tips For Your Hospital Stay

Many hospitals have a food service company contracted to cook their meals. You may find that they only offer you one or two options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

But— I’ll let you in on a secret— they can usually make you anything you want. That will help you avoid food waste and increase the odds that you actually get you’ll eat.

For example, I requested a chicken quesadilla and a cheeseburger and was able to get both with no problem at all. However, had I not asked, it wouldn’t have been offered.

So, the moral of the story is, don’t be scared to ask!! 

Also, with my first delivery, I had the option of steak or shrimp after giving birth. It was called a stork dinner, and they fed my husband and me a delicious meal. 

Conclusion

Bringing a baby into this world is one of the most exciting yet scary things you’ll ever do. Although we all know your hospital stay may not be a walk in the park, you can bring some of your favorite comfort foods to have on hand to help you get through labor.

It’s important to give yourself grace and don’t worry if everything isn’t perfect because, at the end of it all, none of the stress will matter when you have your precious bundle of joy in your hands.

I hope you’ve gotten some good snack ideas for your hospital bag! Always speak with your OBGYN to ensure the items you plan to bring are allowed at your birthing facility!

And that’s a wrap because I’m already getting baby fever again just writing this!

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I snack on during labor?

If your birthing center allows you to eat during labor, energy bars, nuts, boiled eggs, and oatmeal are all great options. If you are at a hospital that only allows clear liquids during labor, jello and popsicles are good snacks. You can bring your own popsicles and the hospital may freeze them for you. Most units have a refrigerator or freezer. However, always ask first.

Can I bring snacks to the hospital?

Most hospitals allow outside food and snacks to be brought in. However, it depends on your facility, so be sure to know their policies beforehand.

What are good snacks for a hospital bag?

Anything easy, convenient, and quick that requires little refrigeration. Soup, oatmeal, energy bars, and protein shakes are all excellent snacks for a hospital bag.

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