What is a Labor Cake? (And Should You Bake One?)

When I was pregnant with my first child, my husband and I took a childbirth class that consisted of one meeting per week for 12 weeks. During our meetings, we learned how to grow a healthy baby, how to breathe through contractions, and how to foster a great breastfeeding experience. We also talked to all the other couples who were there to learn the same things as us. While most couples there were having their first baby, there were several that were coming back for refresher sessions in anticipation of their second, third, or even fourth births.

labor cake
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During our very last class, just a few days before my due date, I struck up a conversation with a soon-to-be third-time mother. I wondered out loud what I would do during the early stages of labor, the stage during which I would know my baby was on his way but wasn’t yet ready to head to the hospital. “Oh,” she said, “That’s when you’ll bake your labor cake!” I’d never heard of a labor cake before so I asked her to tell me more! 

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She explained that a labor cake was a cake that a mom makes in her early stages of labor and then brings to the hospital to eat once the baby has arrived at their birthday party. As she talked about the labor cake, she shared some of the benefits. Baking a cake is a great way to take your mind off of the coming pain and to let your body begin to do the work of moving baby towards the world. It also provides the perfect treat to look forward to after baby arrives and helps to create a festive, happy atmosphere.

On my way home from birth class that evening I looked up cake recipes and made a shopping list but, before I had a chance to head to the store, my baby boy came wailing into the world sans labor cake. When I got pregnant with my second I vowed that I would bake a labor cake and stocked up on supplies a month before I was due. Again though, my baking plans were thwarted when my baby arrived much more quickly than anticipated. If I have another baby I hope I’ll get the chance to bake a labor cake but, if not, I’ll ask my husband to swing by the grocery store on the way to the hospital and pick up a sheet cake. 

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While I won’t get the joy of baking during early labor, the celebration and excitement I’ll feel after baby’s arrival will surely be the same!

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What is a Labor Cake? (And Should You Bake One?)

Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. She is writing a memoir on pregnancy, motherhood, and sisterhood and lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. ... More

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