New Study: Eating and Drinking During Labor Is Fine

One of my gripes about the hospital where I’ll be delivering is that they have a no-eating policy for moms in labor. They recently started allowing “clears” to be consumed—chicken broth and the like—which my doula found very exciting and I found not near enough. I’ve read all over that not allowing women to eat and/or drink during labor is basically bunk. That view just got extra-validated by a new meta-study which surveyed research that covered more that 3,000 low-risk women in labor.

The scientists found that eating and drinking during labor had no negative impact on birth outcomes, and say that the current recommendations restricting consumption are based on a study from the 1940s. That study was done in a time when women undergoing C-sections had general anesthesia, putting them at small risk for choking if they hurled while on the medication. But today, C-sections are done almost exclusively through epidural anesthesia, an injection toward the base of the spine that allows moms to stay conscious, breathing and swallowing on their own. So there’s basically no medical basis for restricting food and drink during labor. Hopefully word will begin to spread.

My doula even suggested that some C-sections may be triggered by low-blood sugar in mom and baby—the rationale being that it’s easier to get exhausted, nauseated, and headachy and have birth stalled when you’re hungry, and if you’re depleted, baby will be too.

But sadly my hospital will likely still be in “clears” mode and any eating I may feel like doing once I’m there will have to be on the DL: “What, me chewing? No, I’m just releasing my jaw. Those mashed potatoes are totally my husband’s.”

Read more on the study here.

And here’s some nice advice about what to eat and how much to drink during labor.

Image via: Shutterstock.