Let me preface this by saying that I truly believe only a laboring mama will instinctively know what her body needs to eat and drink during labor and postpartum.
However, at about 60% of the births I've recently attended, moms were bringing foods like potato chips, cookies, applesauce, and the like to their births. They brought fruit juices and Gatorade to drink. For postpartum meals, they'd either heat up a store-bought frozen dinner or get take-out, which was usually pizza or McDonalds.
Granted, I was apprenticing at a birth center in a moderately conservative area where alternative birth practices and healthy eating are not the norm, but still, I feel that laboring and new, breastfeeding mamas need to keep eating nutritious foods...not go back to eating junk once baby is earthside.
So...I was wondering what kinds of foods you all usually recommend to your clients eat during labor and for their postpartum meal. I have heard some midwives tell their clients to eat simple carbs during labor and a hearty meal with meat postpartum. I have heard other midwives tell their clients to eat protein during early labor, and complex carbs during active labor but before pushing. I've heard mamas should only eat fruit during labor and that everything else is too hard to digest.
My general rule of thumb to mamas is to eat whatever looks and sounds appealing, and won't feel too horrible if it has to come back up.
There is a student in my class who plans on having all her newly postpartum mamas drink a superfood smoothie as their postpartum meal.
So far...I plan on recommending mamas drink water and coconut water during labor...eat non-acidic fruits and soft proteins (yogurt, peanut/almond butter, cheeses) during labor, and then a light but nutrient and iron rich meal postpartum (such as an Indian spiced dish like palak paneer over brown rice or baked steel-cut oats with coconut milk, almonds, and fruit).
What about you all? What do you think are the best foods a mama could eat during labor and postpartum, and why?