Tuesday, August 25, 2009

ACOG Encourages Laboring Women to Quench Their Thirst

Women who decide to give birth in a hospital may soon have access to more than ice chips during labor. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) just released a committee opinion recommending that clear liquids (water, juice, sports drinks, etc.) be provided to women who have uncomplicated labor or are scheduled for a planned cesarean.

ACNM has long supported a liberal approach to providing oral nutrition to women in labor, including drinks and solid food. But for decades, many hospitals have restricted women’s oral intake for fear of aspiration—a potentially fatal occurrence that involves stomach contents entering the lungs while a woman is under anesthesia. Thanks to improvements in anesthesia, aspiration in pregnant women is now extremely rare.

Midwives emphasize that birth is a normal process that under normal circumstances does not require fasting. They educate clients about the small but potentially serious risk of aspiration and watch women throughout labor to identify when food and drink need to be restricted. While ACOG’s latest weigh-in is old news to midwives, hopefully it will encourage more hospitals to adopt less restrictive, more woman-centered policies.


Anonymous said...

The ACOG press release on the new committee opinion talks about "allowing" laboring women to drink. Does that term strike a cord with anyone else?

M'Lynn said...

I worked in the OR for years. I was taught that you always assume that pregnant women have food in their stomachs, as digestion slows...especially when laboring. We *always* treated them the same way that we treated someone who came in for emergency surgery and had recently eaten. We do a rapid sequence induction with application of cricoid pressure. (These were cases where they required surgery and general anesthesia for non-obstetrical reasons.)

The hospital where I delivered gave me light snacks and encouraged me to drink throughout. I did get sick at one point, and well, THAT had been eaten fourteen hours before. So, I don't know that the food restriction is all that effective.

Anonymous said...

Others have noted the choice of language in the ACOG statement: