During pregnancy and labor it is important to remain hydrated and, particularly in labor, to consume beverages that will provide sustained energy for the demanding work of birthing a baby. Hydration is essential to a well functioning uterus (the largest muscle in mom’s body at the time of birth) and to preventing maternal exhaustion, which is one reason some women need extra assistance in a hospital setting during labor. A December 2010 study from the American Journal of Obstetrics found that hydration during labor is correlated to more effective and shorter labors, along with less risk of induction and/or cesarean. So hydration is key.
Due to successful marketing, sports drinks– the -ade drinks– are often what we first think of when we want a beverage that will give us electrolytes and energy for physical exertion. Unfortunately, these beverages are often wrought with unhealthy ingredients such as (GMO) high fructose corn syrup, artificial dyes, and brominated vegetable oil. Brominated vegetable oil, a flame retardant, is banned from foods in Europe, Japan and numerous other countries due to serious health concerns associated with it. Yet the FDA still permits it in our foods.
Political issues aside, there are natural and healthy alternatives to these mass-produced beverages that work well for offering hydration and sustained healthy energy during pregnancy and birth.
Coconut water is a natural and healthy source of hydration and nutrients needed in pregnancy and labor. Coconut water naturally contains sodium and potassium, which are important in helping to balance fluids in the body. Potassium also regulates blood pressure and other body systems. According to Naked Juice’s website, each serving of coconut water contains 650 mg of potassium, 65 mg of calcuim, and 23 mg of magnesium, all important electrolytes needed by the body. Coconut water is also free of additives and artificial ingredients, making it a good alternative to commercial electrolyte drinks.
Homemade “Sports Drink” Recipe
In a large (quart-sized) mason jar, combine:
- 2 teaspoons of Natural VItality’s “CALM” calcium magnesium supplement
- 1/4 teaspoon of unrefined or Himalayan sea salt
- 8-10 drops of stevia extract (available at Trader Joe’s, co-ops, and Whole Foods)
- 2-4 Tablespoon of juice (lemon, orange, lime or pineapple grapefruit juice)
- 32 ounces of purified water, green tea, raspberry leaf tea, or nettle tea
Mix well and refrigerate or enjoy right away.