Coconut water has become a new addition to my birth bag. I believe every laboring woman should keep this little trick up her sleeve. Everybody knows that labor is hard work-hence the name. Unfortunately there is no getting away form that point. BUT, don’t panic. Help is at hand. Let me ask you a question. What would you find if you were to rummage through Usain Bolt, Serena Williams or Tiger Woods’ sports bag? Any guesses?? ….Gatorade! And why? Because it claims it’s ‘proven to keep athletes hydrated and performing at their best’. But besides clever advertising, what does it have to offer? What is Gatorade’s secret formula? In simple terms, it is a concoction of water, artificial sugars and sweeteners, vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, artificial colorings, preservatives and emulsifiers. It seems obvious to mention that when you exercise it is important to replace the fluids lost through the body from sweat. But what most people don’t realize is that when you sweat you also loose valuable electrolytes, which also need to be replaced to enhance performance and aid recovery. However much water you drink after exercise it will not replace the electrolytes lost. This is why the market has boomed in recent years with various sports drinks-Lucozade, Powerade, Gatorade, Vitamin Water, all claiming to aid endurance and performance.
What does all that have to do with my birth bag, I hear you cry? Well…I believe laboring women can get all the benefits of Gatorade, or any other sports drink that takes your preference, from coconut water. Not only does it taste great, but it is a 100% natural alternative to all those artificial colors, sweeteners and chemical additives. Now doesn’t that sound good?
It is very important to keep well hydrated during labor, yet often women become so involved they tend to forget about drinking. We often don’t consider labor to be physical exercise, but as any woman who’s been through it will tell you-it is! Our bodies are performing one of the biggest tasks it will ever have to go through, and in order to do that, it has to be refueled frequently. You wouldn’t consider running a marathon without taking in fluids, and going through labor is just the same. (Labor Tip: Try to eat small amounts high-energy foods, such as carbohydrates, in early labor as this will help give you some energy. In the later stages of labor try to eat foods that will provide quick bursts of energy, such as fruit, juices and honey). Often when labor becomes intense, women will not feel like eating due to feelings of nausea, and that’s ok. But it is essential to keep drinking (even if you throw it back up again). If you are dehydrated, water alone without any electrolytes, will not rehydrate you. In fact it will only further dilute the electrolytes you have left in your bloodstream, which can cause a serious deficiency. Becoming dehydrated in labor is bad news, as it makes muscles less efficient, making contractions less efficient, in turn slowing down your labor-which is not something any woman wishes for.
Coconut water offers a superior option to commercial sports drinks for laboring women, as it contains a greater variety of electrolytes including sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium, calcium, phosphate and sulfate, plus trace minerals zinc and selenium, and antioxidants. Plus the natural sugars help to boost much-needed energy levels. As a homebirth Midwife, transferring a woman to hospital because of dehydration is something you want to avoid if possible. That is why you will always find a couple of cartons of coconut water stashed in my birth bag, ready for action!
- Fuel Your Workouts the Healthy Way: The Natural Alternative to Gatorade (healthheralds.wordpress.com)
- Treat Food Poisoning With Coconut Milk (fitsugar.com)