In a news release, dated 5-19-2008, the American College of Nurse-Midwives announced clinical guidelines for "oral nutrition" (eating and drinking) during labor. Essentially, a team from ACNM reviewed research related to providing oral nutrition to women in labor and "concluded that drinking and eating during labor can provide women with the energy they need and should not be routinely restricted."
Similarly, a study conducted in the UK (published in May 2007) found that, "Women permitted to eat low-fat, low-residual foods during labor were no more likely than women who received only water to have labor, delivery, or neonatal complications." In fact, "women who ate rated their overall labor experience as significantly better than that of women who were only allowed to drink water." You can read the full story - Light Eating During Labor Won't Raise Complication Risk - on the Ob.Gyn News site.
The hospital where I delivered had the outdated policy that women should not be allowed to eat or drink during labor (ironically, ice chips were permitted, but water? No way!...). In the end, the very last thing that was on my mind was food (Imagine wanting to eat a piece of pizza when you just broke your leg...). In mid-labor - about 7 hours after contractions started - I did ask for some juice because I figured it might give me some energy. My nurse kindly said that was against hospital policy - despite the fact that I didn't have an IV! Fortunately, my doctor ended up intervening and instructing the nurse to give me some juice (which did help, by the way).
Here's what you need to know about eating and drinking in labor:
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