It had traditionally been believed that fasting was necessary while a woman was in labor. The reason being to avoid aspiration that could lead to pneumonia. However, a new report has found that this actually may not be the case. The report, presented during the Anesthesiology 2015 annual meeting found that eating a light meal is beneficial for the labor process.
What The Researchers Found…
Researchers visited hundreds of cases on women who have had birth in a hospital. They found that the energy demands of a woman undergoing labor is similar to a marathon runner, whose body will use fat as an energy source if it cannot be found elsewhere (i.e. through adequate nutrition).
For laboring women, this phenomenon would lead to reduced uterine contractions, leading to longer, more strenuous labor and lower health scores for newborns.
Aspiration is a Very Rare Phenomenon
To re-emphasize, the main concern eating during labor was because of aspiration troubles.
Advancements in anesthesia have made the pain involved during labor a lot more manageable and safer, which reduces risks related to eating. Aside from this, the researchers also noted that aspiration is very rare citing only one case that had occurred between 2005 and 2013 of a woman suffering from obesity and pre-clampsia.
Benefits of a Light Meal During Labor
Provided you are in good health standing, which is to be determined by your doctor, a light meal during labor could provide benefits. Researchers note that light meals would “give expectant mothers more choices in their birthing experience and prevent them from being calorie deficient, helping to provide energy during labor”.
Always Follow Your Doctor’s Advice
Regardless of the findings, you should always follow the advice of your obstetrician or doctor. They will direct any laboring women as to whether a light meal would benefit them or not.
Dr. Torbati is a board-certified OB/GYN in Tarzana. He specializes in obstetrics, family planning, and other related services. He has been practicing for over 20 years, having delivered several newborns to happy Mothers. For more information, please contact our office @ (818) 575-6021.