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Eating During Childbirth? Yes you CAN, Says BMJ!


To all of the women who chose to give birth in a hospital and smuggled in contraband Clif Bars, Recharge and bananas, you will now have to find something else sneaky to do to boost your street cred.  The British Medical Journal says snacking during childbirth is okay.

From news.com.au:

EATING while in the throes of childbirth should no longer be a medical taboo, according to a study released today.

The duration of labour, the need for assisted delivery, and caesarean rates were all unaffected by munching between contractions, found the study, published by the British Medical Journal.

Doctors the world over have long discouraged women in labour from eating, for fear that it could lead to breathing food into the lungs in the case of an emergency caesarean while under general anaesthetic.

But such incidents have declined dramatically in recent years, mainly due to the use of local anaesthesia.

Moreover, some doctors have long argued that fasting while in labour - which can last many, many hours - may be bad for the mother and the baby.


The bigger issues are, of course, why every laboring woman is seen as a pre-op patient and why we get so excited to see that someone has published a study confirming obvious things.


What did you eat during labor?  What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen a client eat?


My second labor was powered by Mexican food as a part of my overall fitness regime, Body By BurritosTM.  In the wee hours of morning, I ate a Luna Bar and drank some orange juice.



Hat tip to Lisa Barrett at Homebirth: A Midwife Mutiny



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Reader Comments (11)

Hurray!! Mind if I post the same story?

March 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDiana J.

PLEASE do! Spread the word!

March 24, 2009 | Registered CommenterJill

The most torturous thing they did to me during my first labor (which turned unnecessarean) was deny me food and water. It was sheer hell. Actually, the lack of water was the worst part. I remember that, despite the horror and sadness I felt when they announced I was getting a cesarean, as soon as they said that I could have water when I was done with surgery I said "Okay! whatever, just do it, I'm thirsty!!!" The dark side of me thinks they withhold food and liquids so you'll submit to surgery easier.

Even though I had been without food and water for over 24 hours, I still threw up on the operating table and choked so hard that I passed out for hours....so, lotta good that fasting did.

The second labor, my doula and husband snuck me all kinds of food, and I drank whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. We tried to hide it from the nurses (jesus, what are we? children???) but I'm sure they suspected something when there was food and water all over the room.

I remember eating soup, Belly Bars, sandwiches, jello (I was in labor for 38 hours), eggs, sausage, an english muffin.... and other things I can't recall now. If they'd withheld food from me for that entire 38 hours, I'm sure that labor would have gone south.

Ain't nobody gonna tell me when I can and cannot have some dang food and water.

March 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTheFeministBreeder

TFB, I hate the thought of you dying of thirst and hunger for no good reason during labor. Deprived of food and water for 24 hours. Is this not a human rights issue?

March 25, 2009 | Registered CommenterJill

I ate apple juice and strawberry ice cream. I told my nurse I wanted ice cream when i was 9cm. she said she wasn't sure what OB would think of that. i said "well, he said I can do what i want, remember?" so i got ice cream. Didn't feel like eating much, though.

March 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRose

Wait...when you're doing something requiring a lot of strength and power you should get nourishment? By golly!

March 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTara

I ate scrambled eggs and toast during early, prodromal labor. Drank lots of water and herbal tea the remainder of the time.

Fondly remember a doula client who wolfed down a sandwich in her hospital room, with her back to the door. Right before every bite she would furtively look over her shoulder as if the teacher were going to catch her throwing spitballs. Ridiculous!

March 25, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterabundant b'earth

All 3 of my labors were fairly short and I didn't feel like eating, drank plenty of water though. There were all hospital births and each time, during labor, I was offered, by the midwives, the meals and snacks that were being delivered to the wards. I think my husband ended up eating them...

April 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermimbles

labor is the only time i have no appetite. go figure. i did drink lots of water and juice though.

August 25, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersummer

I've had four kiddos. My first labor was 37+ hours. I remember eating yogurt, peanut butter on ritz crackers, popsicles, and honey. Lots of Gatorade was consumed as well...I remember feeling really hungry, and only being able to eat a few bites here and there.

My second labor, I remember eating yogurt and honey. Not together...

My last two were too fast to bother.

I threw up with all of them. And...when all was said and done, and I was breastfeeding my new young 'un, I craved my mom's fried chicken - cold - and a yogurt. :-)

I was ridiculously blessed to never have birthed in a hospital, and was allowed to do whatever the heck I wanted. My first baby was born at a birth center with CNM's, the others in my very own bed. I cannot imagine why this outdated practice still exists. It's stupid. And mean.

So far, all of my clients (a whopping 7) haven't had much appetite, but they have all eaten a little, and drank a LOT. One of them affectionately dubbed me her "Water Nazi." :-)

August 25, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany - Birth In Joy
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