For centres of wellness, hospital cafeterias are suprisingly dire. We could get some good stuff in ours, but a small tub of fruit salad, containing mainly bits of cut up orange, was over £2! No wonder people would buy crisps, a chocolate bar and a coke, that cost the same amount!.
I was in hospital for eight days and could not have survived without the care packages my husband brought in. One quiet night one of the midwives came to chat about expressing and said I needed to eat much more nutritious food than they could provide, I opened my drawer and showed her my stash of nuts, dried fruit and good quality chocolate, she was impressed.
I can't really advise on good snacks for labour, on my facebook discussion opinions were mixed between labour making them feel ravenous, and labour making them feel sick and everything in between. Your birth partner will probably need snacks, and you will certainly need them in the mist of days ahead, whether your baby is term or premature, by your side, or in NICU.
- Cereal bars. My bars of choice are Geo. I don't really like the crumbly ones, but there are loads of different ones out there, with varying degrees of nutritional value.
- Flapjack. I have tried, on several occasions, to make this, and I can't make one as good as what you can buy commercially. They are not cheap to buy, but one flapjack is very filling, and although high in fat and sugar, oats are great for breastfeeding mums, and they are a slow release energy food.
- Chocolate. When Joseph was in hospital one of the neonatologists (specialist paediatricians) gave me a very informative talk about what to eat when breastfeeding. He recommended I aim for around 3 000 calories a day, 2000 - 2500 from healthy food then make up the difference with chocolate, just whilst Joseph was pre term. He said it enriches the milk, and who am I to argue. I tried to eat the good stuff 70% cocoa solids like Green & Blacks, but at times a Snickers bar or Mars bar just had to do.
- Baby yoghurt. I didnt know of this until weaning, but this is a great product to have in your bag. Baby yoghurt is often mixed with cereal, its in jars ready to eat, and because its in a jar it does not require refrigeration, it's in the baby aisle.
- Dried fruit. My preferred dried fruit are apricots, but I always try and buy the ones that are a spooky brown colour, the very orange ones are preserved in sulphur which I am sensitive to. I also like apples, raisins, dates and prunes. On this topic of dried fruit, a lot of women find themselves constipated after having a baby, and indeed after surgery, in the case of caesarean sections.
- Fresh fruit. It may be a cliche but baskets of grapes and other fruit are a lovely gift and very practical! My husband used to bring in pre prepared fruit as well as whole fruit. It's a good energy boost and some fruits give slow release energy, others give a quick boost, like bananas and grapes.
- Nuts. I love nuts and they are a great source of slow release energy, and a good source of minerals and vitamins that may be lacking in hospital food. I especially like brazil nuts and macademia nuts.
- Biscuits. Maybe not the greatest of choices, but biscuits are great if you have visitors, or need a quick snack. And lets face it, the NHS selection could do with some supplementation! If someone can bring in homemade shortbread or ANZAs then all the better!
- Cereal. A lot of us can eat this dry, or if you have some UHT milk in your hospital drawer and a little bowl, this makes a good snack, particularly if your expressing during the night, or up at strange hours feeling a bit disoriented.
- Sandwiches. If you have some notice of impending labour, I think making a "cut lunch" for both you and your birthing partner is a good idea. Or better still, get them to do it. If you don't have a cooler box, I'd suggest making peanut butter, honey or vegemite (marmite if you must) rather than something that requires refrigeration.
- Rice cakes. I love rice cakes and you can get all different flavours. Some of the ones in the baby aisle are great, there's a tomato flavoured one, I think its Organix, that is salt free and really delicious. Rice cakes are also a slower energy release food and a good source of carbohydrates.
In the coming days I'll do a guide to meals that are easy when you are discharged and your baby is still in hospital, or you have come home with your baby and are busy!