you can't eat during labour?? - Mothering Forums
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Birth and Beyond > you can't eat during labour??
Tofu the Geek's Avatar Tofu the Geek 07:53 PM 02-23-2006
I was in a baby boutique the other day run by 2 moms. They had these candies for sale for pregnant women and they were talking about how some women buy them for labour for something to suck on. One of them mentioned she went through a ton of sour candies in labour because she was starving. So I stared at her with a deer in the headlight look and asked why she didn't just get someone to bring her real food if she was hungry? Both moms then told me, "but you can't eat while you're in labour". And I said, "huh?". I mean I had sandwiches, fruit, crackers, etc. all lined up on my window sill that my parents had brought. Granted, I did NOT want to eat, but it was there if I wanted it. We were talking hospital births obviously.

So, they were all confused why I would have been allowed to eat and they were told they could NOT eat. One mom proposed that you were not allowed to eat if you were getting an epidural. I explained I had no drugs but also that no one mentioned not eating to me (I mean what if I ate and then all of a sudden decided on an epidural?). Then I got to wondering if maybe it was just the hospital in this city, DD was born in a different city so maybe they had different rules? Although apparently our birthing hospital here is supposed to be all "forward" in their thinking, they have hot tubs to sit in and supposedly let you do what you want (except eat apparently!!).

I was so shocked by all of this that I ended up saying that in light of what they said, I was super happy I was having a homebirth and didn't have to go near that hospital. Then I felt bad for saying that and hoped I didn't offend them.

So, the point of my story is, what's up with not being able to eat during labour at the hospital? Anyone else heard of this? why?

alegna's Avatar alegna 07:58 PM 02-23-2006
Pretty much standard of care in most places. The thinking is in case they need to do a crash section and use general... I'm with you- glad I have homebirths

-Angela
zannster's Avatar zannster 07:59 PM 02-23-2006
I don't think it's so much for an epidural as for general anesthesia. The story goes that if you needed general anesthesia for some reason and then vomited, you'd choke on your vomit. (I'd think this would be the case with anything in your stomach, but what do I know). The hospital where I went (southern CA) prohibited food, but I think they allowed clear liquids. Some go even further and only allow ice chips, though I think (hope) that's not the case in most places anymore...
Guest*'s Avatar Guest* 07:59 PM 02-23-2006
It's pretty common around here.

The reason is because they don't want you to aspirate your own vomit should you need an emergency c-section with general anesthesia.

Silly, huh? What do they do with gun shot victims and people who've ruptured their spleens from car accidents? Wait until their food is digested so they can put them under before they operate so they don't have to worry about vomit aspiration? Of course not. If it happens, they deal with it.

I think this policy is insane. Deny millions of laboring women food in labor to save how many lives each year? I'm not sure, but probably less than 1.

This is high on my "why I refuse a hospital birth" list.
Persephone's Avatar Persephone 08:25 PM 02-23-2006
Ditto the pps. They told me I couldn't eat, though I had brought light food with me. Told me I could only have clear liquids...a nd this was on a cervidil induction!!! Cervidil is applied to your cervix, and then you have to wait 12 hours for it to do it's thing.. that's BEFORE ctx even start! Luckily, I have a reasonable doc, who realized the insanity of limiting me to clear liquids 12 hours before I even had any ctx, and let me eat... then labor happened so fast that he never retracted it, and I didn't want to eat anyway! (After labor got underway... while I was waiting on the cervidil, you bet I took advantage of being able to eat! )
Doodlebugsmom's Avatar Doodlebugsmom 08:28 PM 02-23-2006
I had a hospital birth, and my mw told me I could eat whatever I wanted. She said that it could possibly come back up, but that I was more than welcome to eat. I had a bagel and orange juice before leaving for the hospital, though I wasn't positive I was in labor. (I certainly was, I was 7cm when I got there!). It think it depends on your care provider. I personally wouldn't choose someone who said I couldn't do whatever the he%& I wanted the entire time.
Tofu the Geek's Avatar Tofu the Geek 08:39 PM 02-23-2006
I think what bothered me most about the conversation is that neither woman knew WHY they were not allowed to eat. I mean, if I would have been told during labour that "you can not do THAT" (that being anything I might have wanted to do), I would have surely said, "and why can't I do THAT?". I just find it so sad the one was starving for hours and never thought to ask why she couldn't have food.
angelpie545's Avatar angelpie545 08:44 PM 02-23-2006
I've heard that said before..but let me tell you ladies: There is NO WAY that I could go through labor without eating! It's like running a marathon for you body, and your body needs fuel. Also, if you anesthesiologist knows what he or she is doing, you are less likely to have complications such as that. Part of that "rule" is covering the doctor's butt more than then anything.

I ate though both my labors...well my second one was so short (2 hrs) that I don't really remember eating just coming in, breaking my water, sitting in the tub though a couple of hard contractions, pushing about five or six times, and bingo! a baby! My first labor was nine hours long with my baby getting stuck so I really needed fuel for that one, and I didn't eat enough though cause I almost passed out after I gave birth, and bled a lot too. However, it could have been much worse if I hadn't eaten for 12 hours!
NinaBruja's Avatar NinaBruja 08:52 PM 02-23-2006
http://www.birthpsychology.com/messa...g/fasting.html

i was told i could eat jello, beef broth or crackers in the hospital...they didnt seem to understand that i was vegan...dp snuck me some food...hospitals are rediculous...
Brinda's Avatar Brinda 09:12 PM 02-23-2006
Ditto everyone else. We're allowed ice chips and popsicles, but no water (I let my ice melt) or foods.
Samjm's Avatar Samjm 09:13 PM 02-23-2006
I could not eat from the moment they started the Pitocin and the Mag Sulphate until 24 hours AFTER delivery when the Mag Sulphate came down.

I was told that it was because you can't eat while on the Mag.

After 18 hours of intense laboring on Pitocin, not being able to eat, or move (confined to the bed because of the IVs), the only thing that saved me from a C-Section was an epidural. I would physically not have been able to push her out without the 30 minute nap the Epi let me have.
Guest*'s Avatar Guest* 09:14 PM 02-23-2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by TechnoGranola
I think what bothered me most about the conversation is that neither woman knew WHY they were not allowed to eat. I mean, if I would have been told during labour that "you can not do THAT" (that being anything I might have wanted to do), I would have surely said, "and why can't I do THAT?". I just find it so sad the one was starving for hours and never thought to ask why she couldn't have food.

But they do know why...because their doctors said so!
Annie's Avatar Annie 09:38 PM 02-23-2006
Am I the only one thinking that this is 'rule' is really absurd in light of the fact that
a) most women won't even need general at any time during a normal birth
and
b) even if you do need general anestesia they can just intubate you. Wouldn't that totally take care of any aspiration concerns? Every single time I was put under for anything, i was intubated, even tho I'm small and they had a hard time doing it.
fremontmama's Avatar fremontmama 09:40 PM 02-23-2006
I tried to eat during labor, but absolutely everything came right back up. Even just plain water. Plain ice chips were the only thing I could keep down, and I was slurping 'em like crazy b/c I was soooo thirsty. I would happily have eaten something if I could, and my midwife recommended it.

I think I remember someone saying that the practice of not eating during labor is an outdated practice from when anesthesia was much more primitive and the danger of aspirating on your vomit was something that did happen occasionally. But I get the feeling that she meant this type of thing happened way back in the 50s, and that's how outdated this thinking is.

Kinda like, it's better to get an episiotomy.
Brinda's Avatar Brinda 09:42 PM 02-23-2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by Samjm
I could not eat from the moment they started the Pitocin and the Mag Sulphate until 24 hours AFTER delivery when the Mag Sulphate came down.

I was told that it was because you can't eat while on the Mag.

After 18 hours of intense laboring on Pitocin, not being able to eat, or move (confined to the bed because of the IVs), the only thing that saved me from a C-Section was an epidural. I would physically not have been able to push her out without the 30 minute nap the Epi let me have.

I wasn't allowed to eat on Mag, either, because it slows all bodily systems down so much. I didn't stay on it long, though. After 45 minutes, my kidneys began to shut down, and I had trouble breathing.
pageta's Avatar pageta 10:39 PM 02-23-2006
They wouldn't even let me drink. I was at the hospital for 24 hours. I had an IV so supposedly I had fluids, but I was so thirsty by the time DS was born, I was happier to finally get to drink than I was to see him. They must have brought me six glasses of water one right after the other because I kept gulping them down. I was so thirsty! Bloody hospital!
the_lissa's Avatar the_lissa 10:43 PM 02-23-2006
I hate that stupid policy.
applejuice's Avatar applejuice 11:41 PM 02-23-2006
The traditional reason is that you cannot eat because you will choke on your own vomit if general anesthesia is needed. Despite the fact that general anesthesia is rarely used any longer in delivery, hospitals like to keep control of everything that is going on, so it has persisted. The fact that almost all laboring women are on intravenous fluids gives them the excuse that the mother is getting nutrition that way.

There was a movie in the early 1980s starring Paul Newman as a has-been personal injury lawyer who takes on a case against the big bad Catholic Hospital in Boston in which a woman enters a persistant vegetative state during labor because she does choke on her own vomit. He tracks down the nurse who is told to doctor up the woman's records and change the time of the laboring mother's last meal from 1 hour to 9 to cover up the malpractice.

Personally, I always had nausea and diahrreah during labor, so I had no desire to eat during or after labor. It usually took a week for my appetite to return.
huggerwocky's Avatar huggerwocky 11:50 PM 02-23-2006
I wonder what they'd do if you eat anyway. Pull it out of your mouth while you're chewing ? :
rebeccalizzie's Avatar rebeccalizzie 11:56 PM 02-23-2006
The part of this that doesn't make sense to me...those of you who have to "sneak" food. Why do you have to sneak? What can they do to you if they "catch" you eating? Isn't this just like refusing the hep lock or any other "routine" rule?

This is something I've been thinking about...I don't know if my hospital allows you to eat or not. I honestly don't care if they "allow" me or not, I'm going to eat if I want to! (unless I'm on mag or another actual *good* reason not to eat). The hospital I had DD at didn't let me have anything more than ice chips, and I was miserable. I figure I'll just plan on bringing myself some snacks, and if I need to I'll send DH or my mom out for real food.
honeybee's Avatar honeybee 11:58 PM 02-23-2006
It's an archaic and outdated practice that isn't backed up by research. I had a very quick labor, with an IV (hadn't planned on it, but ended up with a fever and decided to go with the antibiotics), so I didn't need to eat anythiing, but I can NOT imagine not drinking water during labor. My dh and doula just brought me the ice water, and the nurse looked the other way. We had also brought light snacks to sneak in, but I didn't end up using them.

I don't care what the "hospital policy" says. I am not a sheep. I do the research and then make my own decisions. It's not like the nurses are watching you every second (heck, ours was hardly ever in the room). What are they going to do, pump my stomach after I've eaten?? My dh and doula were there to TELL them I'd eaten if the genreal anesthesia/emergency situation came up, so they could take it into account.
applejuice's Avatar applejuice 12:00 AM 02-24-2006
Yes, it is outdated, but they still do it, don't they?

Hospital policies change slowly. Not too long ago, women would get routine 3H enema, complete pubic shave, intravenous line, external monitor, internal monitor, vaginal examination to establish progress, put to bed and no food on admission and before the DH was allowed to rejoin his DW.

Anything out of the ordinary is encountered with resistance. Things have changed a bit, but the same people are in charge.

I really think if you want to eat during labor, you should consider a homebirth and stop trying to see what kind of mayhem you can create for the staff during labor. Hospitals are not known for their sense of humor in these situations, especially old labor and delivery nurses.

They have "vays of making you comply mit der master plan"!

And actually, yes, an emergency in labor presents itself and it is necessary to use general anesthesia, they will pump your stomach, although, if it is a true time pinch emergency, I cannot see where the time for that would come in.... Sounds like fun.
amydidit's Avatar amydidit 12:14 AM 02-24-2006
Such a stupid rule. So, JUST IN CASE, you need an emergency section you aren't supposed to eat, right? Well, what if you're 36 weeks along and have an emergency (can't think of what) that requires an emergency section... oh no!!! You weren't in labor so you didn't know not to eat! Uh oh! So, should pregnant women stop eating in the third trimester, just in case???
~rolls eyes~
ssolberg99's Avatar ssolberg99 12:17 AM 02-24-2006
I tried to eat with my first during early labor, but it came right up. I drank water all the way through, though. I just took a tour of the hospital I will be giving birth at and the nurse also said no eating etc. But she said under her breath "If a pregnant woman wants to eat, she's going to eat...who will stop her?" I agree, if I am hungry, I will eat...granted, it might come up.
Belle's Avatar Belle 01:11 AM 02-24-2006
Wow. I guess I gave birth at a progressive hospital. The nurse brought me fruit and encouraged me to drink water. I didn't eat a lot of fruit, but the little bit was wonderful. She frequently brought me fresh ice water. She was an angel.
LeslieB's Avatar LeslieB 01:21 AM 02-24-2006
I saw a midwife recently who said that the policy at the hospital is that I won't be allowed to eat. Then she said, "What you do is bring some snacks for your husband, and if one of those crackers just happens to accidentally fall in your mouth, oh well... Just don't let any of the nurses see it happen." That was pretty encouraging.
CarolynnMarilynn's Avatar CarolynnMarilynn 01:27 AM 02-24-2006
It's not research-based at all. The one study I know about that discussed aspirating food while under a general anesthesia came to the conclusion that the likelihood of aspirating under a general was related to the experience level of the anesthetist (more skill=fewer aspirations). The actual number of aspirations is very low, low, low.

This thread reminded me of a birth I attended recently. The woman was in the tub pushing, after a fast first stage, and in the minute or so between her pushes she was munching on an apple! Giant, huge bites -- she said she was starving. Then she downed a big glass of milk, got out of the tub (her choice of course), sat on the birth stool, and pushed out her baby. She literally ate til the baby crowned (the apple followed her). It was pretty cute -- she rocked.
spero's Avatar spero 01:42 AM 02-24-2006
I had my kids in a birthing center within a hospital. My MW MADE me eat - I wasn't hungry but I'd been up all night laboring and hadn't eaten in about 15 hours. She had DH go fetch muffins and juice - I didn't want any but she insisted, and even hand-fed me. I was getting tired and my blood sugar was getting low. I'm glad she insisted - I didn't give birth for almost 12 more hours and it was a long, tough day. I did need that little bit of sustanance.
sapphire_chan's Avatar sapphire_chan 02:10 AM 02-24-2006
Yet more reasons to homebirth or at least wait until the last possible second to go to the hospital.
Sharlla's Avatar Sharlla 05:09 AM 02-24-2006
I was told no eating or drinking during labor with DS1, they didn't seem to care with DS2. Different hospitals and their policies I guess.
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