|Posted by Andie Gunter on June 15, 2011 at 8:30 AM|
Eating and drinking during labor can give a mother energy and keep her hydrated. It also helps her avoid feelings of hunger and thirst, which keeps her more comfortable. Many birth locations restrict moms from having anything more than ice chips. But are these restrictions necessary?
Not allowing moms anything to eat or drink started in the days when most moms gave birth while unconscious- under twilight sleep. When someone is unconscious, they can vomit and the contents of their stomach can enter their lungs, causing a serious and sometimes fatal condition called aspiration pneumonia. Today, it is rare for moms to give birth under general anesthesia. And even when it happens, precautions are taken to help prevent aspiration. A breathing tube is inserted into the mom's trachea to help prevent stomach contents from entering the lungs. An antacid is given to help neutralize the acid in the mother's stomach.
In 2010, the Cochrane Collaboration looked at policies restricting moms from eating and drinking in labor. They found that, for low risk mothers, policies that restrict eating and drinking are not justified. The review is available here-
Singata M, Tranmer J, Gyte GML. Restricting oral fluid and food intake during labour. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue1. Art. No.: CD003930. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003930.pub2
Available at: http://www2.cochrane.org/reviews/en/ab003930.html
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has this to say about drinking in labor:
“According to ACOG, women with a normal, uncomplicated labor may drink modest amounts of clear liquids such as water, fruit juice without pulp, carbonated beverages, clear tea, black coffee, and sports drinks. Fluids with solid particles, such as soup, should be avoided, however. Women who have uncomplicated pregnancies and are scheduled for a cesarean delivery may also drink these clear liquids upto two hours before anesthesia is administered.” - from the ACOG press release “Recommendations Relax on Liquid Intake during Labor.” Available at http://www.acog.org/from_home/publications/press_releases/nr08-21-09-2.cfm
The American Society of Anesthesiologists has this statement:
“The oral intake of modest amounts of clear liquids may be allowed for uncomplicated laboring patients. The uncomplicated patient undergoing elective cesarean delivery may have modest amounts of clear liquids up to 2 h before induction of anesthesia. Examples of clear liquids include, but are not limited to, water,fruit juices without pulp, carbonated beverages, clear tea, black coffee, and sports drinks.” - from the statement Practice Guidelines for Obstetric Anesthesia: An Updated Report by the American Society of Anesthesiologists Task Force on Obstetric Anesthesia available at: http://www.guideline.gov/content.aspx?id=10807
And the American College of Nurse Midwives has this to say:
“The newest Clinical Bulletinfrom the American College of Nurse-Midwives reviews evidence relevant to providing oral nutrition to women in labor and concludes that drinking and eating during labor can provide women with the energy they need and should notbe routinely restricted.” -from an ACNM press release “AMERICAN COLLEGE OF NURSE-MIDWIVES PUBLISHES CLINICAL GUIDELINES FOR ORALNUTRITION DURING LABOR” available at http://www.midwife.org/siteFiles/news/ACNM_Clinical_Guidelines_on_Nutrition_in_Labor.pdf
So if your doctor, midwife or hospital routinely restricts moms from eating and drinking in labor, you can ask if those restrictions are justified, or consider switching to a different provider or birth location.