Food and Drink in Labor?

Food and Drink in Labor
Food and drink in labor? Many people are surprised to find out that their birth facility or care provider restricts “oral intake” in labor after admission to the hospital.
ACOG (the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) says:
“There is insufficient evidence to draw conclusions about the relationship between fasting times for clear liquids and the risk of emesis or reflux or both or pulmonary aspiration during labor. Although there is some disagreement, most experts agree that oral intake of clear liquids during labor does not increase maternal complications.

The oral intake of modest amounts of clear liquids may be allowed for patients with uncomplicated labor. The patient without complications undergoing elective cesarean delivery may have modest amounts of clear liquids up to 2 hours 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. Particulate containing fluids should be avoided. Patients with risk factors for aspiration (eg, morbid obesity, diabetes, and difficult airway), or patients at increased risk for operative delivery may require further restrictions of oral intake,

ACNM (the American College of Nurse-Midwives) has a slightly differing (and more flexible) opinion:
“It is important that we don’t unnecessarily restrict a women’s ability to eat or drink during labor,” said Deborah Anderson, CNM, Associate Clinical Professor from the University of California, San Francisco. “In addition to providing hydration, nutrition, and comfort, self-regulating intake decreases a women’s stress level and provides her with a feeling of control.”
Most hospitals in Tampa Bay restrict food and drink in labor and laboring patients have access to ice only once admitted. This is despite these positions of the two largest professional associations of obstetrical medical care providers. Your doula can give you the specifics on what is and is not permitted.
When birthing out of the hospital – at birth centers and at home – laboring women are encouraged to listen to their instincts and eat and drink as their appetite and need leads them.

About Amy Lewis

Amy is the co-owner of Buddha Belly. She is passionate about assisting women through life's most challenging transitions and nurtures a lifelong commitment to women in serving mothers as a doula. She is certified by ProDoula as a labor doula, postpartum and infant care doula and postpartum specialist. She was certified by the Healthy Children Project and the Academy of Lactation Policy and Practice as a lactation counselor and is a birth, newborn and breastfeeding educator. > keep reading

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