Hospitals typically restrict women from eating and drinking during labor. Women are given ice chips and intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration. A review of previous studies looks at women who were allowed to eat before delivery and found that they had a slightly shorter labor than those who were restricted to ice chips and water.
Concerns go back to a 1940s study that showed women who delivered under general anesthesia were at risk of regurgitating and aspirating food that was inside their stomachs while they were under sedation. Fortunately, the use of general anesthesia during delivery is far less common today.
The information does not prove that eating caused deliveries to happen sooner, but we suspect there is at least a cause and effect happening like the way that eating can lead us to defecate sooner than if we had not eaten. There’s only so much room in there. Regardless of whether or not our theory is true, the woman’s uterus is mostly muscle. Our muscles need fuel. As anyone who has ever tried to run a marathon, ride a century (a 100-mile bike ride) or otherwise push their body to the physical limit knows, you will bonk, or hit the wall, if you run out of sugar. A long and intense labor is like completing an ironman triathlon and then going back for more. Even at its best, labor uses a massive amount of energy.
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- Eating during labor may be safe – even beneficial – for women – Reuters