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Eat First, Deliver Later

Q. I know that labor can sometimes last for hours. Is it okay to eat if I get hungry?

A. At the onset of labor it's important to keep your energy up, so go ahead and eat something light before you leave for the hospital, says ob-gyn Lisa Masterson, M.D., of Santa Monica, CA. Make sure what you consume is easily digestible; plain pasta, toast, gelatin, apple juice, and broth are all good picks. But steer clear of heavy, greasy meals -- like a hamburger and fries, or ravioli with cream sauce -- because a full stomach can cause complications for you later on if you need anesthesia or other medications to ease your labor.

Once you've arrived at the hospital and are in active labor, limit yourself to liquids: Sip water, suck on ice chips, or eat a Popsicle, unless your doctor gives you the okay to snack on something more substantial.