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The hospital where I delivered had the outdated policy that women should not be allowed to eat or drink during labor (ironically, ice chips were permitted, but water?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:
- Talk to your caregiver and birth place about their policies about food and drink during labor. It’s important to note here that midwives are generally more open to this than OB’s. Similarly, birth centers will likely be less restrictive than hospitals. It is also important to point out that your labor choices and the way that your labor plays out will affect your caregiver’s recommendations. For example, guidelines will vary dramatically if you plan to have a C-section, epidural, or narcotics of any kind.
- If you won’t be allowed to eat, ask if you can bring popsicles, hard candies, or Preggie Pops with you.
WIN IT! There will be two winners. Each winner will receive three boxes of Organic Preggie Pop Drops. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post prior to Friday, May 30 at midnight (don’t forget to follow the rules). The winner will be announced and contacted on Saturday, May 31. * Winner must provide a U.S. mailing address.
*UPDATE* The winners are #55 Kari Follett and #71 Sarah. Congratulations!