March 30, 2009 — Eating a light diet during labor did not affect obstetric or neonatal outcomes or increase vomiting, according to the results of a prospective, randomized controlled trial reported online first in the March 25 issue of the British Medical Journal.
"The current rationale for women fasting during labour is to protect them from pulmonary aspiration should general anaesthesia be needed for an emergency operative delivery," write Geraldine O'Sullivan, MD, from St. Thomas' Hospital, Guy's and St. Thomas' National Health Service Foundation Trust in London, United Kingdom, and colleagues. "However, prolonged fasting in labour has never been proved to influence the incidence of pulmonary aspiration, and some clinicians and midwives consider that preventing food intake can be detrimental to the mother, her baby, and the progress of labour. Whether food intake in labour will influence the ability to deliver normally, the length of labour, or other obstetric and neonatal end points is not known."
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