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Nothing by Mouth? Seriously?

1063 Views 33 Replies 31 Participants Last post by  stik
So, I keep reading in pregnancy books about how in hospital they won't let you eat or drink because they view all laboring women as possibly headed to the operating room. I also read studies on why this is silly.

So, my question is, do they really do this? Is it at all hospitals? Does it matter who attends the birth? Is it only in the US? I can't imagine being denied food and water for any length of time, but especially while working hard.

Just curious..
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I've never labored or delivered in a hospital, but I have many friends who have. They all say that this is true. They were denied food and drink except for crushed ice. They had to have an IV instead of eating or drinking.

Hospitals will say this is because of the potential risk of having to go in the operating room, but I really think it's because they don't want to have to clean up any puke....not like not eating is going to help that. Either way, it's bogus and abusive in my eyes.

If I found myself in that situation, I would eat anyway. What can they honestly do about it? Pack lots of food in your hospital overnight bag!
I got to eat and drink for awhile after I got there, but there was a point where they said no more...I can't remember when that was, though. I will tell you it was one of the most MISERABLE parts of labor for me. I ended up with a c-section and in recovery wanted water even more than I wanted to see my baby, that's how thirsty I was

Oh, and ETA - I am in the US.
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As with pretty much everything having to do with birth--check with YOUR hospital! the hospital's protocol will have a tremendous impact on your birthing experience.

as for the hospital i am going to, they do let you eat and drink until active labor. at that point it is clear fluids only (water, maybe lemonade? maybe tea? not sure what constitutes as "clear") that being said--i am fairly certain if i am starving, i can get dh to sneak me a snack in the bathroom or something
lastly, my midwife said that quite honestly, most women like to eat and drink up to active labor, once transition occurs her experience is that food is waaaay out of your thoughts.
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I think it depends so much on your provider and your hospital--ASK now. One of the reasons we switched providers last time was that I struggle with low blood sugar and blood sugar issues, and the idea of being restricted to an IV was not at all what I wanted. When we switched to a new hospital/CNM combo, the midwife told me that she would put on my chart that I was free to eat as desired until active labor and then clear fluids/foods like broth and jello and Popsicles. She also told us to just pack snacks in our bag and if we got a crotchety nurse on duty, to just snack as I needed for energy. If you pack it, then you have to worry less about "allowed."
Why do they cut off food at a certain point in labor? That doesn't make sense to me. I can't imagine being hungry or thirsty and not "allowed" to eat or drink. Also, having to sneak in food while in the bathroom sounds nuts! I wonder where they get this reasoning. It just rubs me the wrong way, like they know what's best for me better than I do, ykwim? I don't care what stage of labor I'm in, if I want food, you better give it to me dag nammit!!
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I agree with PPs, check with your provider. I kinda thought it was a thing of the past, but it looks like I'm wrong. With DD (3 years ago) I was allowed to drink/eat what I wanted. When labor got more intense I started throwing up so I didn't want anything but ice chips. They wouldn't have restricted me, though.
Depends on the hospital- all these posts (and previous threads) make me feel very lucky. My birthcenter attached to hospital lets you eat (food you bring or theirs), keep baby at all times, visitors whenever, move during labor, birth in many positions, etc, etc, etc. Some of the hospital stories I've heard sound terrible!
Also feeling lucky as my hospital/midwives encourage eating to keep up strength.

I arrived at 4pm and at 6 they encouraged me to eat (as in brought in the "room service" menu and asked me what I was having). I ended up having lasagna and cookies (yummm!) and while they did come back up when I went through transition at midnight I was glad for the strength they had given me.

My midwife/nurses also made sure that my water bottle was constantly topped off with ice water and regularly reminded me that it was there if I wanted it.
The "crunchy" hospital here gives you menus to take out restaurants and doesn't restrict at all. Most of the others restrict is a lot. It is crazy and sad. I ate a chicken sandwich through transition during my UC.
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Like most others said, check with your provider, however if you get whoever is on-call, it doesn't matter. I was only allowed clear fluids. Being restricted on intake can be very detrimental to the labor process. I would bring PLENTY of fluids and some good snacks (like nuts, yogurt, cheese, etc). Get those big bottles of Gatorade and a few bottles of Pedialyte. In class we were just told something about Pedialyte really brings a woman back. Just pack a small cooler in your BIG duffel duffel bag (hehe) and eat and drink as you feel the want/need.
I agree, check with your hospital and provider. The hospital I delivered DS at 3 years ago doesn't restrict at all.
Oh, ok. Good. Sounds like the books I read are a few years behind the trend. I'll ask my midwife about the local hospital. I still haven't decided on hospital vs. home birth, but if they won't let me eat, that'll pretty much settle it.
I was not told to eat I knew that was not going to work so I packed things like preztel nibblits and crackers and stuff. I would shove a whole bunch in my mouth everytime someone left my room. Then one nurse came inbecasue she forget something as I was putting a bunch in my mouth and she made me spit them out and took my bag away...The hospital I am delivering at now encourages eating during I think it's different everywhere. Oh and she did give them back to be after the baby was born
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Yes! With my son after about 14 hours of labouring the second thing I said after birthing him, after "he's so beautiful" is "i'm starving!" I was only allowed freakin' ice chips to suck on. And since he was born at 10 pm, the "cafeteria was closed" so they brought me a packet of soup crackers! I'm still mad about that, in case you haven't noticed.
DDC crashing -

No, not all hospitals do this. In the city I live in, there are a wide variety of hospital policies on eating and drinking in labor.

The hospital where I gave birth to DS allowed nothing but clear liquids by mouth. They were happy to bring me water, juice, ginger ale, Italian ices, and popsicles, right up until they put in the epidural. At that point, they wanted me NPO in case I needed surgery. I have heard of hospitals stretching the definition of "clear liquids" pretty far - a friend of mine had doctors who behaved as though chocolate ice cream was a clear liquid.

I went to a different hospital for DD - I initially selected a midwifery practice at a hospital that would have allowed me to eat and drink whatever I wanted during a normal delivery, but I wound up transferred to a different hospital for an emergency c-section. That hospital kept me NPO, but they knew they'd be sectioning me and that they might have to put me under, so I kind of forgive them. I have no idea what that hospital's usual policy is on food and drink during labor, I do know that they got me food pretty fast once the NPO order was lifted.
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Originally Posted by violet_ View Post
So, I keep reading in pregnancy books about how in hospital they won't let you eat or drink because they view all laboring women as possibly headed to the operating room. I also read studies on why this is silly.

So, my question is, do they really do this? Is it at all hospitals? Does it matter who attends the birth? Is it only in the US? I can't imagine being denied food and water for any length of time, but especially while working hard.

Just curious..
Yes they do this and depending on the nurse you have they will either be insane enforcing the rule or look the other way. There's a great chapter in The Thinking Womans Guide all about it and it has sources for studies proving the theory is false and harmful.

When I delivered in the hospital my MW (there as a doula) hand fed me fruit pieces. It made a huge difference in my energy level. I think that it's a policy worth investigating and worth the fight to be 'allowed' to eat. Some folks bring in food for their birthpartner and sneak it.
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I delivered dd 3.5 years ago and I was only allowed "Clear fluids" Jello, popsicles, broth and liquids. I remember BEGGING FOR FOOD at one point and not being allowed...wth I labored for 17 some odd cannot convince me that your body has no caloretic needs during that time. Yes I got an iv but I am with kubas mama! Within an hour of delivering dd I was eating half a papa johns pizza!
The hosptial I will be at this time encourages eating but does warn that some women throw up at some point in labor...
Our birthing center (part of a hospital) is fine with whatever in terms of food/fluids. Personally, I couldn't keep anything down during ANY part of labor; my system pretty much purged (sorry if TMI!) starting after my 2nd contraction, including some particularly memorable projectile moments! I was soooo grateful to get to the hospital, the first thing I asked for was IV fluids!

But - they would have been fine, had I wanted to eat.

We had a small cooler packed with food for DH, but I was fairly certain that I was far enough along by the time we headed to the hospital that I wouldn't be wanting to eat while laboring. Luckily (and it was pure luck!), I was right!

(And I know that "active labor" refers to a specific part of the process, but honestly? Which part of labor ISN'T active?!)
the reason some hospitals restrict food is because if you end up having a c/section there is a risk that you might aspirate vomit if there was food in your stomach before the procedure. if there is a true emergency, they would consider the risk of that low enough to continue with the surgery, but since many c/s in hospitals aren't performed as "true" emergencies, but more as elective surgery, that risk is considered too great.
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