Jump to content

Fuel for a marathon...and labour?
Would sports gels/drinks help in labour?

18 replies to this topic

#1 Cyaira

Posted 30 April 2012 - 03:23 PM

So I've often heard that labour is much like running a marathon*. Except often much longer, and harder, particularly as pregnancy has already taken a large toll on a woman's body.

As a runner, I'm always interested in getting more out of my runs. I was reading that a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that energy and electrolyte drinks and gels can increase endurance by up to 13%, as they provide easily accessible glucose to working muscles.

I know some women can eat and drink in labour quite easily but for those who might find it difficult, these drinks/gels can be very easy to consume and digest, particularly when your body is under stress. And maybe after the birth, choosing foods high in carbs and protein could help post-labour recovery.

Would this sort of thing help in labour by reducing muscle fatigue and maybe pain? Has anyone tried it? Would you choose different foods (not even necessarily sports ones) in labour to fuel you if you started thinking about labour being like a marathon?

Has anyone seen any research on this topic?

Food for thought.

*I haven't experienced labour first hand, if that makes a difference. But I'd like to try for a natural birth if possible and well fueled muscles could only help with that, right?

#2 Bel Rowley

Posted 30 April 2012 - 03:29 PM

I remember having similar thoughts prior to having my first baby. I also do a bit of running and ran my first half marathon the year before I became pregnant, so I was interested to see how the experience of labour compared to distance running. To be honest I found labour and birth easier than the half marathon! I do think being fit and preparing your body to give birth can help. I know there is a lot of luck involved too, but I believe that going into labour with my body well prepped was beneficial and I recovered well from both my birth experiences. As far as food/drink goes, I wasn't able to eat a thing while in labour. As soon as active labour started I vomited up anything I tried to eat. I did find myself craving Powerade, and drank a bit of it while in labour with my first. So yeah, I think you could be on to something.

#3 Boombox

Posted 30 April 2012 - 03:31 PM

I made a "labour-aide" from a recipe on the internet, and I swear it made my contractions more effective.

From memory it had lemon juice, honey, salt and a calcium + magnesium tablet crushed up. I made it up and froze it in advance, then when I left home for the hospital I got it out and sipped it as it defrosted. I had water as well, and would sip on the labour-aide when I felt I needed it. It would make sense that it helps with stamina- it has the sugar for energy, and apparently the magnesium helps in muscle function.

#4 Eirinn

Posted 30 April 2012 - 03:35 PM

Yup, look up labourade recipes  original.gif

#5 Bunsen the feral

Posted 30 April 2012 - 03:37 PM

I drank powerade during labour - not sure if it was that or the 9 months of carb loading beforehand that got me through  tongue.gif

No idea if it's good for muscles etc but it is easy to drink without being sickly sweet and sits better in your stomach when your feeling a bit queasy so it worked for me.

#6 loubee

Posted 30 April 2012 - 03:47 PM

Sports drinks, yes Gels, no. I have enough trouble eating gels while running let alone in labour. They make me gag, blerk. Given you aren't moving (running)  you dont need something that is transportable, there are many other foods that would provide the same benefit. In an ultra marathon last year I ate a seed, nut & dark choc mix. It was fantastic.

#7 spersephone

Posted 30 April 2012 - 03:50 PM

When I've been in labour, I haven't wanted to eat anything.  I'm prone to throwing up while in labour, so anything I attempt comes back up again.

I do remember they said I was low in ketones, most likely because I hadn't eaten or drunk for about 12 hours by that time, but I went on to have my baby a couple of hours later, and my appetite came back afterwards.

#8 chocolatecrackle

Posted 30 April 2012 - 03:50 PM

There was a report last year of a woman who ran a marathon at 38 weeks and then gave birth the next day... I wonder if she got the 'birth is like running a marathon' message slightly confused wink.gif

I seem to remember that with gels you have to have water with them? I don't think it would be a good idea to have something that requires you to drink - just in case you can't manage it. Of course if you're induced, they'll be pumping you full of fluid anyway...

But yes, it does seem a reasonable idea. I thought about it, but the little I did drink came straight back up so it probably wouldn't have worked out for me.  The birth suite of the hospital I was at did supply lots of fruit juices and sugary soft drink, so there were some options, even if not the same as gels.

Actually, thinking back, I didn't actually feel that worn out from labour - just tired from no sleep in 48 hours. I don't think that any kind of sports supplement could help with that.

#9 liveworkplay

Posted 30 April 2012 - 03:53 PM

There is no way I could eat or drink anything but ice water during my labours. But I didn't particularly feel worn out, just tired from being a wake for so long. After my 26 hour labouor I had a cup of tea and a biscuit and my 5 hour one I was more hungry after and had sandwiches as well. During both I had all the supplies but ended up crunching ice chips.

#10 QueenElsa

Posted 30 April 2012 - 03:58 PM

I tried during my first labour but vomited. Didn't bother trying with second labour but vomited up the previous meal anyway.

Worth a try definitely, but you may not be able to keep it down.

#11 Etcetera

Posted 02 May 2012 - 06:50 AM

I didn't eat during labour, just never had the urge, and they weren't very long labours.
I did have powerade which made a nice change from water!

#12 new~mum~reenie

Posted 02 May 2012 - 10:23 AM

I vomited up my dinner as soon as hard labour hit. I don't think my body liked the idea of digesting AND working my interns at the same time!! biggrin.gif

From (hazy, in the zone, memory) I just had sips of water when prompted. I think I should have had a juice box or something too, in hindsight. I was quite shakeu/woozy after labouring all night with no food to sustain me. After birth the student midwife made me a sweet Ovaltine and some honey toast while the me tucked me up on the couch with bub original.gif layer DH made me a staminade (i keep powder in the pantry - but that's the benefit of homebirth) and I perked up amd felt 'normal' by about 3 hours later. I, though, an nowhere as fit as you! original.gif

Good luck OP.

#13 Bluenomi

Posted 02 May 2012 - 11:21 AM

I'm a big fan of my food but did not want to eat or drink during labour. I made myself eat some breakfast in the early stages which all came back up again later and the midwife had to force me to drink water (which again came back up)

It's a great theory but a lot of woman can't handle anything in their stomach while labouring.

#14 lakurumau

Posted 02 May 2012 - 11:28 AM

I had powerade/gatorade (can't remember which) during my first labour and will be packing it in my hospital bag this time around too. I felt it definitely helped. Easily digestible, kept me hydrated, and we packed enough so that my husband could have a few sips too!

I remember having loads of energy after labour, despite not eating.

#15 sophiasmum

Posted 02 May 2012 - 01:29 PM

Really, the last thing I felt like doing was eating & drinking during labour, I was too focussed on what my body was doing.

#16 Shellby

Posted 02 May 2012 - 06:47 PM

I couldn't eat or drink during labour - with my first I brought dinner up and with my second I just didn't even feel like it, just wanted to labour and remembered how I threw up with my first and didn't want to do that again.

Really I didn't get physically exhausted, yes labour is hard on your stomach muscles but the rest of your muscles are fine so I think that helps you not get tried from that.

My second I wasn't that tried, exhausted or anything but I was induced in the morning, went into labour that afternoon and had Ben at 7, so I only had a normal day to deal with whereas my first I was sleepy, but my waters had broken 2-3 days beforehand so I had not been sleeping as I was excited and waiting for labour, didn't get induced until the late afternoon, no labour until 6pm and he was born at 2am - so it was more lack of sleepy tried than exhausted.

I say sure take it with you, my DH would have loved it and if you find like me you can't and don't want to drink during labour then at least your Dh can have something to keep him going.

#17 White-Lily

Posted 03 May 2012 - 09:56 AM

I made DH stop and get me powerade on the way to hospital. I drank half and threw it up not long after, along with everything else I had eaten that arvo/night. Not fun.

By all means, take it but it might not stay down.

I was tired after from being awake all night but not exhausted like I had run a marathon or anything. I was awake all day after being in labour all night and was felt fine after a shower and some lunch really.

#18 cloudstreet

Posted 03 May 2012 - 10:06 AM

I had a similar discussion with my DH recently. He's training for a marathon and I wondered whether the gels would help a labouring woman. Next time I think I will try! I didn't throw up during labour (but I had an induction/epidural so that probably changes things). Afterwards I found Gatorade really helpful.

#19 Cyaira

Posted 03 May 2012 - 06:53 PM

Thanks for all your replies! I'm so glad other people have thought similar thoughts.

It looks like sports drinks are definitely worth trying so I will do that for sure. I may try a homemade smoothie/labour-aid as well (freezing beforehand is a great idea!). I love how so many of your DHs played such an active support role.

I guess nobody knows how they will handle eating/drinking in labour (even between pregnancies?) but from the replies it seems like a common thing to not want to eat anything. But it seems worth a try, if not just for afterwards.

Thanks again

Reply to this topic


1 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 1 guests, 0 anonymous users


Get your FREE Baby & Toddler Ticket!

Get your free ticket to the Essential Baby & Toddler Show Brisbane (4-6 March). Register online now to save $20!

Newborn baby found in a nativity scene

Police are trying to trace a woman who abandoned a baby boy in the manger of a church nativity scene.

Life would be harder without my kids

The Humans of New York Facebook page is well known for sharing touching, real stories from one of the world's biggest cities – and it's just hit the heart of parents everywhere.

Mum dresses as Wonder Woman for last day of chemo

A Brisbane mum dressed up as a superhero to celebrate the end of her chemotherapy and created a moment her family will remember forever.

How a raisin can predict a toddler's IQ

All you need to assess a child's future intelligence is a plastic cup and a raisin, according to new research.

Former Hi-5 member's cannabis hope

Former Hi-5 star Tim Harding hopes a cannabis-derived drug will help control his daughter's epilepsy, which sees the four-year-old suffering between 50 and 100 seizures a day.

The top 5 reasons your toddler throws a tantrum

Whilst to the outside world little people may appear to have it easy, it's actually not always the case – just ask any toddler who's had their toast cut up the wrong way.

Glenn McGrath thought he'd lost his wife and baby

Australian cricket ledged Glen McGrath has spoken about the moment he thought he might lose his wife, Sara and their baby daughter, Madison.


Inside my Centrelink nightmare

Mother Bec Smith has been trying for months to access Centrelink payments. A "serious error" is preventing her.

Warnings over push for hourly childcare billing

Australia's peak childcare body has called for caution around the Turnbull government's push for childcare centres to charge parents by the hour, not by the day.

Cate Blanchett thought about adopting for years

Cate Blanchett says her recent adoption of a baby girl had nothing to do with wanting a daughter after having three sons.

Kate Walsh: 'I can't have kids'

Grey's Anatomy star Kate Walsh has revealed she is unable to have children because she has experienced early menopause.

The parasite that could boost fertility

The Tsimane women of Bolivia are often revered as among the most fertile in the world - on average having 10 children in their lifetimes -- but some are even more fertile than others.

Family may sue cousin over genetics

A Melbourne couple is suing the Royal Children's Hospital for failing to diagnose a genetic disorder in their first child - an error they allege caused them to have another child with severe disabilities.

Strange things mums have done in labour

While most women in labour focus on the upcoming birth of their baby, some women do more interesting things.

Michael Clarke reveals baby's name

When Michael Clarke said he was wrapped around the finger of his little princess, he wasn't joking.

The logistics of breastfeeding twins

Our life is more or less divided into neat four hour parcels of time and it's hard to get much of anything done in the time between feeds.

How to stop people ruining Christmas

We can make a conscious effort about how we react to those curly Christmas day scenarios that can send us up the wall, or should we say chimney.

Lots of formula offers for desperate mum

The mum who was down to her last three tins of baby formula said she had received hundreds of calls and offers to send her formula.

Surviving breast cancer while pregnant

It was last thing Rebecca O'Donnell expected at 30 weeks' pregnant. One morning, while putting on her bra, she felt a pea-sized lump in her right breast.

Cot sheet brands for the nursery

With so many awesome cot sheet options these days, we thought we'd put together a list of go-to brands for you to seek out for your baby's bed.


What's hot on EB

How I survived breast cancer while pregnant

It was last thing Rebecca O'Donnell expected at 30 weeks' pregnant. One morning, while putting on her bra, she felt a pea-sized lump in her right breast.

Grieving father's letter to Bataclan terrorists: "...this little boy will threaten you by being happy and free"

A grieving father whose wife was killed in the attacks on the Bataclan Theatre last weekend has written an open letter to her killers.

5 challenges of motherhood - and how to see them differently

Despite the smiles, the sloppy kisses and the pure magic children bring to our lives, it's hard to deny that motherhood can be tough.

4 challenges of being a new dad - and how to face them

Becoming a parent is challenging – and that applies to both mums and dads.

My battle against antenatal and postnatal depression

I was five months pregnant when I realised I needed help.

Children swapped at birth will not be returned to biological parents

A boy and girl accidentally swapped on the day they were born will stay with the families who have raised them, a South African court has ruled.

A quarter of men believe they get 'man periods'

A British study has revealed one in four men believe they have a monthly cycle.

Baby deposit

How much do you need to save for a 'baby deposit'?

It's fairly straightforward to calculate a house deposit, but how much money do you need to save up for a baby?

Dad's beautiful note to his wife, a nurse

To anyone else it might just look like a picture of a mum having a nap with her toddler.

'I was a complete schmuck': Mike Baird opens up about his wife's postnatal depression

When his wife Kerryn was not well following the birth of their daughter, NSW Premier Mike Baird buried himself in his work.

Mum's desperate plea as whooping cough alert issued

A desperate mother has shared a heart-breaking video of her baby struggling to cope with a coughing fit caused by pertussis.

Coffee could help you live longer

New US research found people who report drinking three to five cups of coffee a day are less likely to die prematurely from heart disease, suicide, diabetes or Parkinson's disease.

The joy and dread of playdates

To live vicariously through your child is to rediscover anxieties you thought dead and buried.

Sick baby could die without scarce special formula, mum says

Lizzie Cann is down to her last three tins of a special formula in short supply.

Adorable toddler's strop foiled by squeaky shoes

We're probably all familiar with the pouty bottom lip and tightly crossed arms of a tot mid-strop.

More sex during World Cup created more baby boys

More sex during South Africa's World Cup meant a disproportionately high number of boys were born nine months later, a new study has found.

ABC Shop perfect for Christmas gifts

What a boon it would be to have your toddler's Christmas gifts covered this year. We have two awesome ABC Shop prize packs to give away to two lucky winners.

Do fitness challenges really work?

Fitness challenges aren't new. There's Michelle Bridges 12WBT and a bunch of other programs if you really want to lose weight.

What are pregnant women Googling?

Pregnancy is a huge change for any woman, so it's natural we'll have questions - and turn to Google to ask them.



Can't decide?

Check out the Essential Baby Names section for some inspiration

Essential Baby and Essential Kids is the place to find parenting information and parenting support relating to conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids, maternity, family budgeting, family travel, nutrition and wellbeing, family entertainment, kids entertainment, tips for the family home, child-friendly recipes and parenting. Try our pregnancy due date calculator to determine your due date, or our ovulation calculator to predict ovulation and your fertile period. Our pregnancy week by week guide shows your baby's stages of development. Access our very active mum's discussion groups in the Essential Baby forums or the Essential Kids forums to talk to mums about conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids and parenting lifestyle. Essential Baby also offers a baby names database of more than 22,000 baby names, popular baby names, boys' names, girls' names and baby names advice in our baby names forum. Essential Kids features a range of free printable worksheets for kids from preschool years through to primary school years. For the latest baby clothes, maternity clothes, maternity accessories, toddler products, kids toys and kids clothing, breastfeeding and other parenting resources, check out Essential Baby and Essential Kids.