Post # 1
A week or so back, there was a thread where this topic came up, but the OP’s main question was about something else and it was starting to cross into thread-jacking territory, so the subject was dropped. (See posts #8-12)
I’m curious to hear if any women on the Bee have experience with this. Most hospitals in the US still have policies restricting women in labor to ice chips only, or maybe clear fluids. The justification is that if a woman were to have an emergency C-section under general anesthesia she would be at risk of vomiting and aspirating, a condition known as Mendelson’s syndrome. However, this is extremely rare and poorly supported by research. The counterargument is that restricting food and drink during labor increases the likelihood of interventions because women’s caloric resources are depleted and not replenished while she is in the midst of intense physical exertion. Rebecca Dekker has some information about this over at Evidence Based Birth, and I also recently read some journal articles on the topic (here is a pretty thorough one that is freely accessible without a subscription; you can read abstracts of the others via links).
Ina May Gaskin also talks about this in her books. She points out that not all women feel like eating while laboring; also, it’s fairly common for a woman who has eaten in early labor to vomit as she’s going through transition. However, even though that sounds unpleasant, Ina May has observed that it’s actually helpful for advancing labor by loosening up the woman’s muscles.
Rebecca Dekker has also looked at the evidence re. using IV fluids during labor (to offset the restrictions on eating and drinking), and found that it may contribute to maternal fluid volume overload (i.e. getting swollen for several days afterward because of too much excess fluid in your system), excess newborn weight loss, delayed milk production, and difficulty breastfeeding, although there is not enough conclusive research evidence on these topics. (Are IV Fluids Necessary During Labor?, The Evidence for Saline Locks, and one mom’s story about her labor experience.)
So, I’d like to hear from Bees who have gone through labor: were you restricted from eating? Encouraged to eat? Were you hungry, or not interested in food? What did you eat/want to eat? Did you throw up during transition? Were you on an IV? Did you get swollen from it? Do you think it affected your ability to breastfeed? Overall, was it a good thing for you to eat and drink/not eat and drink/have an IV/not have an IV?
Post # 3
I haven’t gone through labour but I was just in the hospital about a month ago while going through a miscarriage. I was on a waiting list for a procedure and so they would not let me eat or drink (even water). They gave me an IV with saline solution to keep my hydrated I suppose. By the time I was taken into the OR I had not eaten or drank for over 24 hours. I was not the least bit hungry though.
I think if there is a chance you will need to go under general they will not let you eat.
Post # 4
@KCKnd2: I was only 18 with my first, and I didn’t even know it was a “thing” not to be able to eat/drink. I had a sub sandwich and drank a ton of water. No one said anything. A few years later, I was at the same hospital in labor with my daughter, and I was asking her dad to go get me a burger. The nurse told me no and that if I was really that hungry, she could probably sneak me a jello cup. I told her that if I couldn’t have a papa joe and some tater tots, I was going to eat the next nurse that walked in my room. Lol. I never once felt nauseated nor did I throw up during or after labor. There was no way I was pushing a baby out of me without SOMETHING in my stomach.
I was on an IV, I didn’t get swollen and it didn’t affect me breast feeding.
Post # 5
I haven’t had my baby yet, but was told at my birthing class and by my OB that in Canada women are encouraged to eat. One of the things they have to “Myth Bust” due to so much American media up here.
Post # 6
I wasn’t allowed to eat during labor but I also had no interest in food. Labor pains started at midnight. We were at the hospital by 3am and I had the epi around 4:30am. Had my daughter at 11ish. I was starving afterwards but during all of the labor process I didn’t want food…
i was on IV meds for strep B, oxygen, never threw up, was up the next day showering and walking around. I breastfed successfully for well over a year.
Post # 7
I was in labour for 50.5 hours, I ate lighty during probably the first.. 24 hours, then labour got really really intense and I mostly just drank but I drank a bunch. My DH gave me my water bottle after every contraction and that was going well. I also remember eating a half of a vending machine size bag of pretzels at some point too.
Around the 37.5 hour mark I got an epidural because I couldn’t handle it anymore and then I wasn’t allowed to eat anymore. I wasn’t hungry at all though so I didn’t care. I got an IV at this point and they started giving me fluids through that. I asked for an apple juice about 4 hours after I got my epi and I threw it up shortly after drinking it so I stuck to ice chips and water. 10 hours later when it was almost time to push the nurse asked if I wanted a popcycle to take in some sugar and hopefully get some more energy to push and I threw that up almost instantly after it was finished.
So basically no, I didn’t eat much while I was in labour because my body wouldn’t really let me after I got in to active stage.
ETA- I was hugely swollen afterwards but I was on oxytocin for a long time which causes fluid rentention, and I also had a c-section which can result in swelling. Baby latched well but did lose weight in hospital. Breastfeeding was great once we got home and he packed on weight really fast.
Post # 8
I planned an hbac so I most certainly wasn’t restricted. I ate when I was hungry, threw up twice in labor (once when I got into active labor and another when I hit transition)…. Oh & the two times I threw up I did make the most “short time” progress. 😉
What I didn’t do enough though was drink enough fluids. I ended up with a slight temp & tachycardia towards the end (why I transferred), but I had down some epsom salt soaks, & been in the warm bath alot and wasn’t very good about remembering to drink water & really didn’t have anyone reminding me…. My new MW, looking back really thinks I was likely just dehydrated.
Post # 9
Ok I’m a long way away from this, but I’m more terrified of the possibility of throwing up than actual labor. I do not throw up well…I avoid it at all costs!
Post # 10
@BlondeMissMolly: I am the same! Really! But it actually felt SO good to throw up! Both time were when I had a sudden change in intesity of my contractiosn & both time it actually minimized the pain of them! lol
Post # 11
@BlondeMissMolly: I am the same way too, almost borderline a phobia but once I was feeling labour pains, throwing up was a drop in the bucket by comparison.
Post # 12
@KCKnd2: With my first I had the vomitting in transition and I was very happy with the fact that all they had let me eat was jello. I would not have wanted to be throwing up real food. Then once I got into real hard labor there is no way I could have eaten anything. I should have been quite hungry since I went to the hospital at 1am, I had about 3 servings of jello, threw it up, I hadn’t eaten real food in 24 hours by the time he was born. But I was not at all thinking about food.
I had IV saline with all five of my labors. I don’t remember ever feeling swollen from excess fluid.
I breastfed all five babies (separate pregnancies, not quints). The only problem I had was with the first one, getting the trick of getting that whole nipple in that tiny baby’s mouth. I found that getting the bottom part all in was more important than the top. But you still have to make sure it’s in there pretty good or you’ll get sore, cracked nipples and the baby will have a harder time getting milk out. Try squeezing your breast flat like they do for a mammogram, well, as much as you can. Also try to start bf-ing before you get engorged. And lastly try different positions. I liked the standard baby cradled in my arm and also lying down on my side. I never liked the football hold, but other women can only do it that way. So try them all out to find what works.
Post # 13
I had a midwife assisted hospital birth. I was allowed to eat and drink at will. I ate a granola bar, but mostly I just wanted to drink juice and water. I had an IV for antibiotics (I tested GBS +) but they put a lock on it so I wasn’t actually hooked up to a bag of fluids- I could get up, walk around, take a shower, use the tub, etc.
I did throw up, but it was when I was transitioning. Similarly to @runsyellowlites: it was when I threw up that I made the most progress: 5cm to baby in 34 minutes!
Post # 14
With my DD, I was induced (only with cervical gel). When I was admitted, I had an IV and was allowed to eat what I want. Honestly, I am not sure if that was because they didn’t care, or because they didn’t think I would progress as fast as I did.
After my water broke, I had NO desire to eat or drink..the pain was too awful. lol
Post # 15
Since I knew I was being induced in the evening with prostaglandin gel due to very low amniotic fluid levels, I was able to plan ahead a little bit. I ate a good lunch/dinner at about 4:30 in the afternoon (my induction started at 9:30 PM) and I believe that did help me have enough energy to get through the laboring process.
I was on a movable IV so I could get up and move around as I wanted. But the IV was mainly due to the whole induction thing. I did not end up swelling up from the IV and it did not affect my ability to brestfeed at all. The little one ate like a champ from pretty much the beginning and she’s still doing it to this day (5 1/2 months in…woo)!
I did end up throwing up during labor but this may have had something to do with the fact that I was nauseous throughout my entire pregnancy and not from my meal from earlier in the day. Let’s just say that throwing up was a pretty regular occurance at that point so it really wasn’t a huge deal (other than the fact that I felt bad about it because the nurse had to hold a bowl under my head since I couldn’t make it to the restroom in time).
As far as food during labor, I was allowed to have ice chips, water, and jello but nothing other than that. To be honest, at that point, I really wasn’t very interested in food and mostly wanted to focus on laboring and bringing my daughter into the world. I was in a completely different place in my mind at the time so food was not a focus for me.
Overall, I was happy with how things turned out. Other than the gel to induce labor and a bit of morphine (which I regret now since it didn’t do anything at all to dull the pain and I ended up having my daughter about an hour after that) I had a birthing experience I was happy with and I avoided an epidural (which was my main goal). I do think that my story is a bit different though in that I knew I was being induced and thus was able to eat a good meal prior to labor and in the fact that from start to finish, my labor was only around 5 hours total (induction started at 9:30 PM and my little girl was born at 1:57 AM). Had I labored for hours and hours, I might have needed more food than the ice chips and jello that was offered by the hospital for sure. I definitely think I was fortunate in how quickly it all happened!
Interesting thread, OP! I look forward to seeing more responses from other Bees. 🙂
Post # 16
I wasn’t allowed to, and it was the worst thing EVER! I was induced @ 9:00pm on a Monday so my last meal was about 6ish, maybe? and I didn’t eat again until Wednesday morning. I was hooked up to an IV and got tooooons of fluids. I was allowed a small cup of water and some ice chips which obviously didn’t satisfy me AT ALL! I ended up having a c-section, which during I did throw up (again, horrible! trying to throw up without aspirating while being strapped down to a table….not an easy task) and even after it was over, I was still only allowed a few sips of water.