Should Women Eat While Giving Birth?

To eat or not to eat during labor?

New research may change the tradition of women having only ice chips while giving birth.

"Early Show contributor Dr. Holly Phillips of WCBS-TV in New York explained that women's consumption is limited to ice chips to try to avoid aspiration -- a condition that causes food in the stomach to move into the lungs when women need general anesthesia for a C-section.

However, she said, attitudes are changing; for example, general anesthesia is hardly ever used for a C-section.

Studies also support ta new outlook on eating during labor.

Research just released by the Cochrane Systematic Review of five previous studies found that 3,000 women at low risk of needing a C-section who had something to eat or drink during labor were at no increased risk of complications.

"There were no increased inductions -- no increased rate of C-sections or any other complications," Phillips said. "I think a lot of women would welcome the opportunity to have something to eat or drink during labor, because I think it's called labor for a reason. It's hard work. You need fuel to get through the hard work."

But, as "Early Show" co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez stressed, that doesn't mean you should eat a ham sandwich or spaghetti and meatballs on the delivery table.

"Exactly. No burgers and fries in the labor room," Phillips replied. "We're talking about small amounts of foods. The American College of Gynecologists recently loosened their previous recommendations. They're allowing clear liquids."

Clear liquids may include sports drinks, water and fruit juice. In addition, some doctors allow some solid foods, such as toast, popsicles, applesauce and Jell-O.

Phillips said, "These are all things that can really be digested easily."
  • CBSNews

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