Could you ever imagine going 12+ hours without eating on a normal day? Then why the heck would you do the same in labor?
Centuries of birthing wisdom is now being acknowledged by the American Society of Anesthesiologists. In a November 6th press release, the ASA indicated they have changed their standards and now recommend that it is indeed beneficial for women to eat small meals in labor. After decades of women birthing in hospital settings being told that eating during labor puts them at risk for aspiration, the ASA has finally looked at the evidence and declared that the risk is highly unlikely and "withholding food and liquids may be unnecessary for many women in labor."
As birth doulas and student midwives who practice in both in and out of hospital settings, we have seen first-hand the importance of providing women with sustenance during their labor. Women who are showing signs of a slowing or stalling labor who are given small bites of protein and carbs soon bounce back and are able to have their babies without the need of medical or medicinal intervention. If we remember that the laboring woman's body is going through a great amount of physical exertion, we can pull from the practices of other "extreme" athelets to see how they pull through great physical strength and endurance - remaining hydrated and taking in nutrients!
Not sure if your care provider is aware of the new changes? Show them the evidence and start a discussion about how they can support you in having a more smooth labor by following the new guidelines for you to sustain yourself with adequate food and hydration!
To learn more about the changes, visit the ASA here!