Clinical Guideline Backs Food, Drink During Labor

Nurses, midwives urge more reviews, but say practice provides comfort and nutrition

Please note: This article was published more than one year ago. The facts and conclusions presented may have since changed and may no longer be accurate. And "More information" links may no longer work. Questions about personal health should always be referred to a physician or other health care professional.

En Español

THURSDAY, May 29, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- Drinking and eating during labor can provide women with the energy they need and should not be routinely restricted, says a new clinical bulletin from the American College of Nurse-Midwives.

"It's important that we don't unnecessarily restrict a woman's ability to eat or drink during labor. In addition to providing hydration, nutrition and comfort, self-regulating intake decreases a woman's stress level and provides her with a feeling of control," Deborah Anderson, an associate clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco, said in a prepared statement.

Currently, most U.S. hospitals restrict a woman's food and drink consumption during labor to reduce the risk of aspiration if a problem develops and she requires general anesthesia.

The new clinical bulletin says the decision to allow a woman to have food and drink during labor must take into account a number of factors: the woman's health status; the risk of surgical intervention, and the system in which the woman gives birth.

Among the other recommendations in the clinical bulletin:

  • During pre-birth care, discuss with women the very small but potentially serious risk of aspiration if general anesthesia is required.
  • Encourage healthy women experiencing normal labor to make their own decision about whether to have food and drink.
  • Evaluate all women at increased risk for birth that requires surgery for factors that could result in difficult intubation or aspiration.
  • Continued research to confirm the safety of allowing women in labor to have food and drink.

More information

The American Pregnancy Association has more about pregnancy and birth.

SOURCE: American College of Nurse-Midwives, news release, May 19, 2008

--

Last Updated:

Related Articles