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.
The American Pregnancy Association has more about pregnancy and birth.