Do you feel that? It's the Winds of Change! Great news for birthing moms.

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?

Well, according to this article in the New York Times,  based on this analysis in the Cochrane Summaries, not so much.

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.


  1. The hospital/birth center I birthed all three of my children at, allowed me to eat. I basically told them that I was going to do whatever I wanted anyways LOL so they never batted an eye. I told them no heplock as well. Hopefully this will be the norm soon! I just needed to eat with my first. the second, she came too fast. and the third, I felt like eating, but it didn’t feel right after I took a couple bites.

  2. Helen

    Last month I had an emergency c-section with very little notice. I ate dinner at home at 6:00 PM and then my water broke at 7:30 PM, followed immediately by labor that progressed rapidly. At 1:15 AM (only about 7 hours after my dinner) I had an emergency c-section under general anesthesia. I didn’t puke. Maybe I’m the exception to the rule, but I did just fine with food in my stomach.

  3. With my son, I ordered pizza to my delivery room. Lol With my daughter I chowed on french fries and mayo in the cafeteria. I had nurse midwives for both, in a hospital. My third ended up with a cs. It was my only birth with a doctor. I would never go back to a doctor to have a baby again.

  4. n a t h a n i a

    That was similiar to my situation. My waterbroke, and it being my first birth I started watching the cloth for fear of not birthing the baby within that 24 hour period. I felt the pressure of having to birth our daughter and soon found that my labor was digressing instead of progressing because I kept watching the clock. I actually fell asleep for a couple of hours after my water broke, and when the nurses checked up on me and found me to be the same amount of centimenters dilated then they decided to give me pitocin. You can imagine my very real fear of having a C-section came about more strongly now!

    It took my husband to set me aside. Look at me and tell me not to worry and not to think about everything. He said once I started worrying about the clock that that was when I stopped progressing. It worked. I stopped worrying and just started praying and just letting things happen as they ought to. I felt that labor could have gone on a little while longer {without the pitocin}. She had trouble breathing too when she was born. Maybe there is something to forcing a labor to happen! YOu know?

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