A dietitian and mama’s 25 best hospital bag snacks that are easy to pack and will satisfy your hunger during labor and after birth.
As your due date approaches and you begin packing your hospital bag for labor, you might be wondering what snacks to pack in your hospital bag. If you are not sure what snacks might keep well in your bag, or are nutritious and replenishing for labor and after birth, here are some ideas.
As a registered dietitian and mama, I’ve put together my top list of the 25 best hospital bag snacks that are easy to pack and will satisfy your hunger during labor and after birth.
Do you need to pack snacks for your hospital bag?
Some mamas may not agree that snacks are necessary to pack in your hospital bag as hospitals typically offer food for mom (and sometimes dad), or have a cafeteira or surrounding restaurants to run to.
But, as a mama who delivered at 1:30 in the morning when every food option was closed and breakfast wouldn’t be served until 6:00 am, I can speak from personal experience that having snacks on hand in your hospital bag can make all of the difference.
It also goes without saying, and you may already know, not every hospital has a 5 star restaurant rating for their food…
So, if you can, ask around with other mamas who have delivered at your hospital to gauge what your expectations should be of the quality of the food served there.
What about snacks to pack for dad in your hospital bag?
Yes, it’s true, as moms we’re ALWAYS thinking of everyone else, and packing snacks in your hospital bag for dad is one of those times. Depending on where you are giving birth, dad (or your partner) may or may not receive a complimentary guest tray.
In our experience, although my husband was offered a guest tray, the food wasn’t all that appetizing and he did not want to leave my side. So, having some snacks on hand for him was life-saving and helped us steer clear of *someone* becoming “hangry”.
Needless to say, not only will you be grateful you have these snacks on hand for after delivery, but dad will thank you too!
Now, before we dive into the list, you might have one last clarifying question…
Can you eat food during labor at the hospital?
In short – it depends. If you are planning on having a hospital birth, it is best to discuss with your provider on whether or not you can eat snacks during labor as this can vary. Some hospitals may only allow you to eat ice chips while hooked up to IV fluids, while others may allow you to eat and drink clear liquids (see the best snacks for clear liquid diet below).
What is the risk of eating during labor you ask?
The main reason for not allowing moms-to-be to eat or drink during labor is the risk of aspiration should you have to go under general anesthesia for an emergency c-section. However, this study is rather outdated, and more recent research is pointing towards fasting as not necessary for low-risk laboring mamas. Better yet, new research suggests that most healthy women may actually BENEFIT from a light meal during labor.
BUT, most hospitals have not updated their recommendations yet. So again, be sure to clarify with YOUR provider when and what you can eat during labor. And, if eating during labor is something you would prefer to be able to do, looking into an accredited birthing center or a planned home birth with a midwife practice that supports this might be something to consider.
Choosing the best snacks for your hospital bag
Now that you’ve decided it’s best to pack snacks for labor in your hospital bag for you (and dad!), let’s dive into how to choose the best snacks for YOU! When choosing the best snacks for your hospital bag, you want to keep a few things in mind.
Opt for snacks that are primarily non-perishable
You want your snacks to keep well for at least a couple of days to a couple of weeks (in case your baby decides to come at 42 weeks like mine!) as it’s recommended to pack your hospital bag around 36 weeks (in case baby decides to come on the earlier side). So, be sure to add a few of your favorite non-perishable snacks to your hospital bag checklist!
Pack snacks that you (and your partner) enjoy!
Labor is not the time to experiment with new foods as you may experience nausea or have an upset stomach. The best snacks for your hospital bag are going to be the ones you are familiar with and enjoy. Many healthy pregnancy snacks also work well as snacks for your hospital bag.
Choose foods that are nourishing for birth
The energy and caloric demand of a mom in labor is similar to that of a marathon runner…
Did I read that right?…
Yes you did! Let me repeat: the energy and caloric demand of a mom in labor is similar to that of a marathon runner.
As a 3x marathon runner and new mama, I can attest to that statement too. Sometimes I joke that in 2020 my “marathon” was pregnancy (my previous marathons were in 2014, 2016 and 2018… you see the trend).
Just as we train and nourish our bodies for exercise, we need to train and nourish our bodies for birth too. Choosing foods that are calorically dense, yet light on the stomach, and rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants is key.
25+ Best Hospital Bag Snacks
*Please note, this article includes affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
As a registered dietitian and mama, I have done extensive research (and trial and error) on some of the best snacks for labor and after delivery. Without further adieu, here are 25+ best snacks for your hospital bag!
PS I broke them down into some helpful categories for you too 😉
Best snacks for labor
During early labor you will want to supply your body with a mixture of carbs, protein, and fats to fill up your tank for the labor ahead. If you are still at home you may even want to enjoy a mini meal (my pre-hospital meal was the same as my pre-marathon meal: an everything bagel with peanut butter and a banana: carbs + protein + healthy fat + electrolytes.)
Once labor kicks in your body will tell you what it needs. So, tap into that *mama intuition* and listen to what your body is telling you. Here are some ideas of snacks to have on hand for labor so you are ready:
1. No bake energy bites
No bake energy bites, like the recipe you’ll find in my snack book, will give you that added boost of energy you are looking for during labor that are quick and easy to eat should you be a little busy during labor. They take less than 10 minutes to prepare and can be frozen and stored ahead of time so they’ll be ready for you at any moment.
2. Fresh Fruit
Fresh fruit that keeps well and is less likely to get “smooshed” in your bag such as:
Fresh fruit provides your body with vitamins, minerals, and rich antioxidants. The water content and citrusy-sweet flavor can be nice and refreshing if you are experiencing any nausea, and in one snack you’ll get a nice supply of energy to fuel you too!
3. Dried Fruit
Dried fruit without added sugar is an easy to pack snack for your hospital bag that has a similar nutrient profile to its fresh counterpart (without the water). Given its preserved nature, dried fruits keep well for months – so this is a great snack to pack well in advance with the rest of your hospital bag items! A few of my favorites:
*As a side note: eating dates at the end of your pregnancy may have some favorable outcomes for labor including reduced need for induction, and a more favorable bishop score and cervical ripening upon admission (you can check out the studies here and here.)
4. Energy bars
A snack staple that is easy to pack in your hospital bag early on. Energy bars sometimes get a bad rep for their high sugar content, that’s why I’m here to share a few of my favorites with you!
- Larabars are fruit and nut bars made with minimal ingredients and some even have NO added sugars like this one! As a plus, they get their sweetness from dates (known as one of the foods that make labor easier).
- KIND Snacks offer a variety of options from nut based bars to oat based bars like this one
5. Honey Sticks
Honey sticks provide a quick and easy to digest source of energy to fuel you in between contractions or even pushes (if discussed/approved by your provider).
6. Individual nut butters
Similar to nuts, nut butters without added salt or sugars are an excellent source of protein and healthy fats; they are just in a spreadable form so you can enjoy them with your fresh fruit, veggies, or on their own.
Some of my favorite combos:
- Apples+ peanut butter
- Dates + almond butter
- Bananas + sunflower seed butter
7. Trail Mix
Whether you make your own healthy trail mix, or pack a pre-made mix, trail mix is rich in healthy fats, protein and calories to sustain your energy throughout labor. This salty snack will also supply your body with essential electrolytes such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium too!
Some ideas to mix in to make your own healthy trail mix:
- raw nuts (cashews, walnuts, almonds, pistachios)
- dried fruit (craisins, dates, bananas)
- pumpkin or sunflower seeds
- a sprinkle of dark chocolate chips for that sweet tooth craving!
Best snacks for clear liquid diet
Like I mentioned before, depending on your provider and hospital rules, once you arrive at the hospital you may no longer be able to eat during labor. I *highly* recommend knowing this ahead of time so you can properly fuel your body at home.
If a clear liquid diet is required, here are some of the best snacks for labor while on a clear liquid diet that were life-saving for me!
***The following snacks are not provided at hospitals and if you do not want to get stuck sipping on low-sodium, tasteless hospital broth and plain water, I highly encourage you to pack these drinks for your hospital bag ahead of time!
8. Bone broth
Bone broth is a nourishing option if you are birthing in a hospital that only allows you to drink clear liquids during labor. It will supply you with hydration, protein (specifically glycine), vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes to help keep you fueled all labor long!
You can either make your own bone broth to bring with you, or bring a convenient smaller serving pre-packaged bone broth like this one (this is the exact one I packed in my bag!)
Pro tip: make a large batch during your third trimester to freeze and save for labor and your postpartum days so it is ready to go. This nourishing snack is rich in glycine to help replenish and restore your nutrition after birth.
While the hospital may have “tea” on the menu it’s typically a very generic, tasteless tea. So if you are looking to add some flavor to your drink, pack your favorite tea bags in your hospital bag.
Looking to help labor move along? Red raspberry leaf tea is known for its benefits to strengthen the uterine muscles, which may shorten labor and ease any pain. This is one of my favorites and was packed in my hospital bag!
10. Vitamin water
If you thought you were thirsty during pregnancy, just wait until labor and breastfeeding! Hydration is key when it comes to labor and breastfeeding and having some Vitamin Water on hand at the hospital to change things up from plain jane water, as well as to get a boost of energy and electrolytes to replete as you sweat them out is a good idea.
11. Coconut water
Another way to stay hydrated and replete lost electrolytes during labor is to pack some coconut water in your hospital bag, especially if you’re on a clear liquid diet during labor.
Pro tip: If your doctor requires you to stay on a clear liquid diet during labor and delivery, bring in some collagen powder to mix into your clear liquids such as broths, water, juices, and tea to provide your body with a source of protein to keep you fueled longer during labor.
Best hospital bag snacks for dad (or birthing partner)
Yes, you are the one doing all of the demanding physical work of birth, but your birthing partner is there to support you emotionally and physically too. So, you will want them to be well nourished. While all of the snacks on this list can be for both of you, here are a few recommended hospital bag snacks for dad that my husband enjoyed having on hand:
12. Meat Sticks
Grass-fed meat sticks such as Chomps and Vermont sticks are the perfect portable snack to pack in your hospital bag for dad and you! They take up about the same amount of space as a pencil and do not need ice packs or a fridge either. Rich in protein to replenish your body after the intense demands of labor, and enjoyable for dad to snack on too. You won’t want to forget this one, so add it to your bag early on!
13. Cheese sticks
A good source of calcium and protein, and an easy to pack snack for your hospital bag. Similar to meat sticks, individually wrapped cheese sticks take up little space, but you will want to enjoy these early on or ask to keep them in a fridge or on ice packs.
14. Veggies and Hummus
While you might think these would be recommended for mom, raw veggies may not sit well in your stomach during labor. And while they supply your body with essential vitamins and minerals, vegetables are not a good source of calories, protein, or healthy fats to fuel your body. So, save this nutritious snack for dad (or your partner) to enjoy!
As pre-labor fuel, or post-birth replenishment, nuts are a quick and easy to pack snack to have in your hospital bag. Raw, roasted, or salted, nuts on their own are an excellent source of fiber, protein, and healthy fats to keep your partner fueled while they support you too!
You can’t go wrong here, choose your favorite from almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, macadamia, or mix and match.
16. Roasted Chickpeas
High in protein and fiber, and a source of iron and folate to replenish mom; this salty snack is also a fun one to crunch on for dad too! The Good Bean offers them in a variety of flavors so choose the one that speaks the most to you (this one is my favorite)!
Filled with fiber to keep dad feeling full and fueled, pre-popped popcorn is a great snack to keep him occupied during the pre-baby jitters. Since you won’t have a ton of space in your hospital bag, snack size popcorn bags are the way to go!
Best postpartum snacks (for after delivery)!
Congratulations mama!! Your little one has arrived and at this point all of the attention has likely transitioned to being on baby, but don’t forget to care for yourself too!
You just birthed a human which took an extraordinary amount of strength, power, and energy.
Remember, it is just as important to replenish your stores as you nourish your little one, so that you are nourished too. Here are a few of my go-to healthy postpartum snacks that you can pack in your hospital bag too:
18. Homemade Cookies
Homemade cookies like these Mama Lactation Cookies are a feel good, delicious and nutritious treat that can help satisfy those cravings, while also providing nutrients to nourish your body after birth. High in fiber, yet low in sugar and a source of protein and healthy fats, you’ll be happy you packed these as a postpartum snack to enjoy at the hospital while soaking up the snuggles with your little one (and dad will thank you too!).
Yes cereal! While the hospital may have a few options to offer, do they have YOUR favorite cereal? The pregnancy cravings and hunger don’t end after labor. Given you will be hanging out at the hospital for a few days after birth (typically 24 – 48 hours after an uncomplicated vaginal delivery and 2-3 days after a cesarean), you may thank yourself for packing your favorite cereal to snack on in between meals or late night feedings.
20. Greek Yogurt
While this snack will need to be packed as you head out the door, you won’t want to forget it given its rich content of probiotics that provide nourishing support to your gut. And if you haven’t heard about the first postpartum poop, you’ll thank me that I mentioned this one to help keep you regular! Some favorites:
- Chobani Greek Yogurt
- Wallaby Organic No Added Sugar Greek Yogurt
- GoGo Squeeze Yogurt Pouches (easy to pack in your hospital bag and no refrigeration required!)
21. Granola Clusters
Clusters of granola, nuts, and seeds are the perfect combination to supply you with the fuel you need to make it through labor. These also make for a healthy postpartum snack that may support optimal milk supply for mamas whose main goal is to breastfeed.
A few of my favorites:
- Michele’s Granola
- Creative Snacks Co
- Make your own with granola, nuts, seeds, and a touch of honey or agave nectar
Yes your hospital may have some oatmeal on the menu, but if you’ve ever had hospital oatmeal you know… you may just want to bring your own (IYKYK). You can make a homemade instant oatmeal packet or bring individual packets – just add water! This is one of my favorites, and it’s high in protein too.
*An added bonus: oats are known as a galactagogue, or a food that naturally increases milk supply. So, if breastfeeding is one of your postpartum goals, definitely pack this one in your bag!
23. Peanut Butter Filled Pretzels
Another crunchy snack topped with salt and filled with protein to replenish your salt and protein stores after sweating and working hard through labor. Peanut butter filled pretzels are a great snack for in between feedings, so be sure dad doesn’t beat you to them!
A nice warm muffin with a hot cup of coffee every morning to make you feel like you are at home. The Supermom Muffin recipe you’ll find in my snack book is what I brought with me for my labor and delivery stay. Designed with the supermom in mind, these muffins are packed with veggies, fiber, protein, and healthy fats to make for a well-balanced healthy postpartum snack, or a great addition to eggs for breakfast!
Pro tip: double the batch and freeze some to enjoy later on in your fourth trimester for a week you just don’t have the energy to meal prep!
Indulging in some nourishing dark chocolate while savoring the sweet smell of your newborn babe is the perfect way to end the day. As an added bonus, it’s a rich source of iron, magnesium, and antioxidants that can help the healing process postpartum.
Tips to packing snacks in your hospital bag for labor
Once you have decided on your favorite snacks to pack in your hospital bag, don’t forget to put them in there!
Here are a few tips for packing your hospital bag snacks:
Pack your non-perishable snacks along with the rest of your labor bag checklist items.
The majority of these snacks can be packed as early as you pack everything else on your hospital bag checklist. Most of these snacks can be squished between clothes and toiletries too to save space!
Use a collapsible soft lunch box or mini-cooler with ice packs for perishables.
Your greek yogurt, fresh fruits, energy bites, and string cheese will fit nicely in here!
Pro tip: There is no need to pack your beverages in a cooler as you can pour them on ice, or heat up your broth once you get to the hospital.
Have a handful of your favorite fresh fruits on hand each week so you know you have a healthy snack for labor.
Each week stock up on your favorite fresh fruit that keeps well so you can grab and go at the door.
Prep (and pack) ahead!
Make double batches of the Supermom Muffins, Mama Cookies, and Bone Broth and freeze them in your third trimester so they are ready to go for delivery day and the fourth trimester.
The best snacks for YOUR hospital bag
So there you have it, my list of the best hospital bag snacks. BUT, ultimately the best snacks for YOUR hospital bag for labor are going to be ones that you enjoy, are light on the stomach, and supply your body with energy and nutrition to recover and replenish after birth. Choose a few of your favorites from the list and add them to your labor bag checklist.
Did I forget one? Share with me your favorite snack in the comments below!