Some women in labor don’t feel hungry. They are progressing rapidly and their body is on delivery mode. The thought of food makes them feel sick. The night before I had my daughter, I felt very sick to my stomach at the thought of food. My labor progressed rapidly and my daughter was born before long before the same time the next day. Yet, with my son, when my contractions were coming on slowly and my water had broken, I was famished. I had someone sneak a sub sandwich into my delivery room. I was no where near ready to deliver at that point though, but I was not supposed to eat anything.
During labor, women don’t necessarily need a sub sandwich, but if they feel hungry, midwives are more inclined to let them eat a little to sustain themselves for the labor ahead. Labor doesn’t have to be the horrific experience people say it is, but it is usually quite a bit of work and women need their strength.
But most hospitals still have a strict policy that women are not allowed to eat, even if they are hungry during their labor. The reasoning at first makes sense. If a woman needs a cesarean delivery, and has to undergo anesthesia, they worry that she may throw up and inhale the food into their lungs. It is the same reason why prior to most scheduled surgeries where a patient is put under general anesthesia, they are asked not to eat.
That makes sense, right?
These days, when women end up needing a c-section, they are rarely given general anesthesia anymore. Now, they are almost always given regional anesthesia.
Dr. Marcie Richardson, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates in Boston said in that article, “My own view of this has always been that you could say one shouldn’t eat or drink anything before getting into a car on the same basis, because you could be in an automobile accident and you might require general anesthesia.”
According to the review, poor nutritional balance may be associated with longer and more painful labors. Couple that with the fact that difficult labors are more likely to result in c-sections and other more dangerous interventions, and suddenlt it seems that allowing a woman to listen to the needs of her own body will soon prove to provide a much more satisfying birth experience.
In the meantime, you might want to consider a midwife assisted birth.