I shared a post on facebook about some simple, but very effective, coconut water ice cubes for labor that ended up being most most popular post to date.
I wanted to write a follow up blog to share more information with additional options, because as I experienced first hand, you never know what scents and flavors will appeal to you during labor. So it’s best to have two or more of these different ice cube flavors prepped ahead of time. I had a very powerful aversion to most smells during labor with my first child. Even the smell of my husband eating almonds made me feel queasy, and almonds are usually one of the most innocuous smells I can imagine.
Why coconut water?
Coconut water is full of electrolytes that keep you hydrated and help your body to work more efficiently. Just like any other intense physical activity, it’s very important to stay hydrated during labor to prevent you from becoming exhausted, which can prolong labor and lead to fewer contractions that are less effective. Coconut water is refreshing and contains natural sugars to give you an energy boost. Sucking on these hydrating cubes is also fantastic for those suffering from morning sickness.
When to use them?
Unlike cubes made from water, coconut water cubes stay slightly slushy when frozen. It’s best to suck or chew on them between contractions, because your mouth & jaw should remain as relaxed as possible during each contraction. A very tense mouth and jaw can actually lead to tightening in the birth canal, so keeping tension out of your face during contractions can help your baby descend more efficiently.
“Muscles send messages to each other. Clenched fists, a tight mouth, a furrowed brow, all send signals to the birth-passage muscles, the very ones that need to be loosened. Opening up to relax these upper-body parts relaxes the lower ones.” William & Martha Sears
These cubes are obviously most convenient to use during a homebirth, or while you’re laboring at home before transitioning to the hospital, but they become increasingly effective as labor intensifies and appetite for other foods decreases. So if birthing at a hospital or birth center, ask your healthcare provider if there’s access to a freezer on site, or consider bringing an insulated freezer bag with you.
Coconut water & berries
How to: Pour coconut water into an ice cube tray and place a berry (fresh or frozen) in each cube. I like blueberry, half of a pitted cherry, or a slice of strawberry. I might not use raspberry because the small seeds could get stuck in your teeth and become distracting.
Coconut water & Red raspberry tea
Red raspberry leaf is one of the most widely consumed herbs in pregnancy. It’s used as a tonic to strengthen uterine muscles and tone the pelvic floor in preparation for birth, and can encourage strong, productive contractions during labor.
How to: Brew a strong batch of red raspberry leaf tea. Once cooled, combine with equal parts coconut water, then pour into an ice cube tray. *Red raspberry leaf tea on its own becomes too hard when frozen, so the coconut water gives it a better consistency while adding health benefits.
Pure coconut water
How to: Pour coconut water into an ice cube tray and freeze.
watermelon & coconut water
Watermelon is very hydrating and easy to digest, which makes it a wonderful option during labor. Just like coconut water, it contains natural energy boosting sugars and remains soft and easy to eat when frozen. Frozen watermelon can also be a good snack after birth to restore energy and help reduce swelling from excess fluids retained from pregnancy.
How to: Cut watermelon up into bite-sized pieces, then mix in a blender. Combine equal parts blended watermelon with coconut water and pour the mixture into an ice cube tray.
I love all things coconut, but something I learned from the comments on my original ice cube post is that not everyone likes coconut flavor. And if you don’t like something regularly, it’s safe to say that you probably won’t develop a taste for it during the throes of labor.
How to: Cut watermelon up into bite-sized pieces. Mix in a blender then pour into ice cube trays. Or the no blend method: cut watermelon up into bite-sized pieces then freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet.
- If using deep ice cube trays, fill each cube only 1/3 full with liquid, as smaller cubes will be easier to consume during labor.
- Once the cubes are frozen, they can be stored in a freezer safe jar or bag (my favorite).
- In preparation for labor, assign someone attending your birth to be responsible for offering you cubes in between contractions.