It’s now okay to eat while you’re in labor, says study
Great news for expectant moms! There may be no need to fight hunger pangs along with labor pains. Read on to find out more
According to a new study conducted by the American Society of Anaesthesiologists, women can now consume food and drink while they are in labor.
Not allowing labouring women to eat anything has been common practice for decades. This is done to prevent the risk of aspiration or choking on food contents while under anaesthesia.
Being on anaesthesia not only numbs the pain, it also causes changes in a woman's bodily processes such as a slower gag reflex, which is essential to preventing food from entering the lungs.
Due to the advances in anaesthetic technology, cases of aspiration are now virtually non-existent. And because anaesthesia is administered in the spine during labor, not via a face mask, this risk is really quite low.
But this doesn't mean that mommies-to-be can just eat to their heart's content. Only light meals should be encouraged. The study further states, “Most healthy women can skip the fasting and, in fact, would benefit from eating a light meal during labor.”
A 'Mommy Marathon'
Many women go on gruelling hours of labor without anything to eat or drink. The endurance needed for this is likened to the strength and resilience of athletes who run marathons; the research suggests, "the energy and caloric demands of labouring women are similar to those of marathon runners.”
When a woman's body isn't getting the proper nutrition, fat stores are used up as an energy source. This changes the chemical composition of the mother's blood, making it more acidic. "This potentially reduces uterine contractions and leads to longer labor and lower health scores in newborns," the study says.
Fasting causes emotional stress
The study also says that "fasting can cause emotional stress, potentially moving blood away from the uterus and placenta, lengthening labor and contributing to distress of the foetus.”
It has yet to be seen if hospitals will be open to adopting this practice as many medical practitioners believe that food should still be restricted.
“Our findings suggest a change in practice makes sense,” said Christopher Harty, co-author of the study and a medical student at Memorial University, St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. “Physician anaesthesiologists and obstetricians should work together to assess each patient individually. Those they determine are at low risk for aspiration can likely eat a light meal during labor. This gives expectant mothers more choices in their birthing experience and prevents them from being calorie deficient, helping to provide energy during labor.”
What do you say, mommies? Did you sneak in some snacking before you entered the delivery room?