During my time as a midwife working at the Birth Centre at Northampton General Hospital I was introduced to the phenomenon of the benefits of ‘Magic Juice’ for women to drink in labour.

During contractions a woman’s body is working increasingly hard and her body need a supply of fuel for it to work at its optimum. An inadequate supply of fuel leads to body fat being metabolised, which leads to ketones being produced as a by-product. Ketones are bad news for mummies and babies in labour; it leads to an increase in maternal and fetal heart rate, nausea and eventually vomiting as the ketone level rises. We can simply identify the presence of maternal ketones by testing a sample of her urine.

In labour the stomach contents move along more slowly (the body is prioritising other ‘work’ maybe) and so women are often unable to eat much, other than snacks and high energy drinks.

And hence, the joy of honey! We can add some hot water to a couple of sachets of honey in a jug, make up with cold water so that the end temperature tepid, and Voilà`! You have a drink that provides hydration (equally important in labour) and a source of energy to facilitate the body working at its best.

Most of the vending machines in hospitals are stocked with zero sugar drinks now in a bid to improve the health of the general population and in view of the ‘sugar tax’. However, labour is a time when a woman’s body needs sugar! So, consider popping some honey in your labour bag, ready to make up your ‘Magic Juice!’