Eating & Drinking During Labor
Labor is called labor for a reason. It is hard work. Not necessarily work that you have to put in as it happens involuntarily, but your body and the wondrous organ that is the uterus is working really hard during labor to get the baby in the right position and to push it out of your body. Hard work requires energy and that is where food and drink comes in!
Have you ever wondered why many hospitals do not allow eating or drinking during labor? This overwhelming trend in hospital “policy” is for fear of aspiration (throwing up and choking on it) if general anesthesia (getting “knocked-out” and intubated) is needed. This started in the 1940’s when the drugs and tools used while providing anesthesia were very different. Luckily the field of anesthesia has drastically improved, making the probability of aspiration extremely rare. Some hospitals are heeding the newer research and changing their policies for low-risk pregnancies.
Many women feel that they could use a little nourishment, especially during long labors. Some women report no desire to eat during labor, especially as it intensifies. In quick labors there may not be time for it.
Your body. Your taste. Your choice.
If it is early labor, by all means, eat a well-rounded, nutritious meal until satisfied. Heavy meals are sometimes later regretted.
Here are some food ideas that I have found laboring people like:
If you ate during labor, what were your foods of choice?
When is a pregnancy no longer low-risk and fasting is recommended?
Planned c-section. There are also some other potential factors that might increase your chances of aspiration such as: airway issues, eclampsia, pre-eclampsia, obesity, or opioids in your IV, but they haven’t been thoroughly studied. An epidural does not take you out of the low-risk category, but waiting a while after it is placed to make sure it doesn’t cause nausea is advised.
Compare the eating policies at the local hospitals by downloading the Nashville Birthplace Comparison Guide.
Sources // Evidence Based Birth
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Hi, I'm Nicki! I am a Nashville based Doula and founder of 615 Doula Co! My favorite part of working as a Doula is supporting families through the life transitions of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum life.