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not eating during hospital labour, experiences??

(31 Posts)
damdaffs Wed 03-Sep-08 14:15:34


this has been bugging me since i had my DD nearly two years ago...

my labour was induced as i was overdue and most of my amnoitic fluid disappeared so they wanted to speed things along. packed my hospital bag with a bevy of snacks as keeping energy levels up was mentioned in all the pregnancy books. contractions started very abruptly and as it turned out i didnt feel like snacking, tho usually i tend to eat little and often.

however, few hours later down on delivery suite, after quite a few hours of monster contractions, got the shakes severely. the midwife said 'oh thats strange youve got ketones in your urine have you had that before?'. well i havent but worked in hospital environment so knew that ketones in urine means your body has run out of energy and started burning your body fat to keep going. well, think so anyway. when i asked if i could have a square of chocolate to stop the shakes basically they said they didnt want me to.

confused,not sure really why this was. do you think they were being cautious in case i had to have emergency c section?

what are other peoples experiences? anyone else deprived of food during equivalent of running a triathalon?

also trying for another now, thinking of next time, wondering if lucozade (ugh!)would be acceptable? glucose tabs??

cupsoftea Wed 03-Sep-08 14:19:48

It's up to you - the medics have to say no because of c/s

Tinkerisdead Wed 03-Sep-08 14:19:54

Oh im interested in responses to this as my hospital bans all food and drink during labour (i'm booked for home birth all being well) antenatal teacher said they do that as fear of full tummy in a general anesthetic. my midiwife felt it was crap as you would still be allowed a general if (god forbid) you suffered a car accident etc with a full stomach and apparently digestive juices in your airway are more damaging that partially digested food.

interested in peoples experiences as it seems horrendous to me to labour with no fuel!!!

littlelamb Wed 03-Sep-08 14:23:05

I sipped lucozade through a straw during both of my labours. Never had a midwife suggest I shouldn't. I know I ate a banana with dd (only because I remember vomiting it up soon afterwards- sorry) but ate nothing with ds (only a 3.5 hour labour, so no time- and no tea and toast afterwards sadwink

aquariusgirl Wed 03-Sep-08 14:30:31

if you don't put petrol in the car it doesn't go - labour is like running a marathon - marathon runners eat pasta before hand to give them energy. Studies on stomach contents and labour were i believe done in the 40's on a small group of women and are outdated. No food, no energy, labour stops, no progress, drip to speed things up, baby unhappy -) c/section. Another spiral of intervention?? Just for the want of some food?

Wheelybug Wed 03-Sep-08 14:34:40

I was induced early due to IUGR and once they'd broken my waters they wouldn't let me eat and only drink clear fluids in case it led to c-sec (which it did). I was allowed glucose tablets begrudgingly.

I since remembered my nct teacher saying you should eat in labour and that if you are suddenly rushed in to hospital because of, say, a car crash they wouldn't worry about the fact you had eaten. But, I'm not a medic so don't know the science. In my case a c-sec was fairly inevitable though in hindsight.

Flibbertyjibbet Wed 03-Sep-08 14:41:49

I wasn't allowed anything to eat or drink in labour either - just a sip of water to wet my lips after gas and air and the midwife took it away pretty quickly.
I saw the midwife again some time later and asked why are we told to pack food in bag if we can't eat it.
She said 'well we didn't want to frighten you at the time but baby was in distress, we were monitoring everything and had to be ready to send you for crash section at any time'

Having said that though I was fully dilated on arrival at hospital and he was out by ventouse 2 hours later so not really time for a lot of snacking.

And I'd have probably got crumbs up my fanjo as my feet were in stirrups grin

I WAS very cross though that dp was brought a cup of tea and sat there next to me drinking it!

damdaffs Wed 03-Sep-08 14:42:46

hmm this is really interesting. so maybe there's no real reason why you can't eat during labour....i wonder if there's some big childbirth authority on high who could clarify?

aquariusgirl i think that might have happened to me, got stuck at 9cm and contractions got weak, then they had to pump me with syntocinon and get the sink plunger out.

i dont think a square of chocolate wouldve been that disasterous, ok maybe not a full chinese takeaway. i do flake out if i dont eat so think i will try and clarify this if there's a next time.

damdaffs Wed 03-Sep-08 14:47:24

hmm i should say i hoovered up all my snacks pretty quickly on the lovely, friendly post natal ward, maybe thats really why the books tell you to pack food ...i couldnt walk to the dining room cos of my epidural legs, no-one to help me and they didnt tell me about the free snacks cupboard until i was about to go homehmm

purpleflower Wed 03-Sep-08 14:50:16

I was given dinner while in labour with DS 2 years ago. I didn't eat it though DP did smile

aquariusgirl Wed 03-Sep-08 14:55:57

NICE guidelines - god love 'em - recommend eating small quantities and drinking too and isotonic drinks - just looked up the long version (335 pages long!)

cockles Wed 03-Sep-08 14:58:26

We were told we weren't allowed to eat in labour at our hospital (in case of c-section) but I did anyway. Plenty of time with no-one there, in my labour at least! Tbh though I didn't find I wanted much. Certainly haven't wanted to eat a dried apricot since!

TattyCatty Wed 03-Sep-08 15:01:29

I asked for some breakfast after being in labour for about 12 hours (through the night) - hadn't eaten since dinner the previous evening. Was told by the midwife that I could have something when "baby arrived". This was at about 8am. DD was finally delivered at five to two that afternoon angry. Think the rationale was in case I needed a C section. As it turned out, I was prepped for a CS (didn't need it in the end as DD finally arrived via both Ventouse and Forceps) and they made me drink something "in case there was something left in my stomach" - so they cover themselves for this anyway.

RubyRioja Wed 03-Sep-08 15:02:34

I crawled down to staff canteen durnig labour with dd2 and ate apple crumble and custard.

No force on earth could have stopped me!

RhinestoneCowgirl Wed 03-Sep-08 15:04:07

I ate cereal bars and some apples during labour, drank water and apple juice - I was at home tho... Towards the end I was feeling v sick and didn't want to eat anything, to the point that I was really exhausted. MWs were urging me to eat a spoonful of honey hmm but I couldn't face it. Ended pushing for over an hour powered by 2 polo mints that mum found in her handbag!

I think the car crash/operation scenario is relevant here - as we're not talking about 3 course dinners, just topping up your blood sugar a but...

RhinestoneCowgirl Wed 03-Sep-08 15:04:56

a bit

damdaffs Wed 03-Sep-08 15:17:51

i think i'll have to check out these NICE guidelines, tho whats in there versus what happens in real life seems to be another kettle of fish.

i didnt want to eat during most of my labour but i think its unrealistic to expect people to go thru a long labour with no fuel, esp if, as Tattycatty says, food in the stomach isnt so much of a problem if you need an GA.

castille Wed 03-Sep-08 15:29:51

French hospitals put labouring women on a mobile drip. No drop in blood sugar, and nothing in your tummy in the event of c/s.

Wonder why it's not standard in the UK?

dinkystinky Wed 03-Sep-08 15:33:42

I got told not to eat - and evil midwife tried to ban my sports drinks too - when I was induced with DS: its all incase they need to give you a general anaesthetic.

Nice anaesthetist (who was obviously sh*tscared of terrifying bulling midwife) said sports drinks are fine to eat, but not to have any food to eat.

TheProvincialLady Wed 03-Sep-08 15:52:59

Well I was provided with sandwiches and yoghurts by the MW throughout my labour!

Snaf Wed 03-Sep-08 16:04:13

The whole issue about not being allowed to eat in labour is based on outdated, pretty irrelevant evidence that also makes very little practical sense.

The idea is that if you were to eat in labour and then needed a general anaesthetic, there would be a small risk of gastric aspiration (contents of your stomach getting into your lungs) - potentially v serious. However....

a) general anaesthetics not often used in c-sections anyway
b) as someone else said, in any other situation you would get emergency surgery whether you had a full stomach or not
c) your stomach is never empty, as it is full of gastric juices even without food. Gastric juices alone would do enormous harm to your lungs if aspirated anyway, so not much point in refusing food in the first place
d) aspiration is usually due to bad anaesthetic technique, not having food in the stomach
e) disallowing food during labour means a knackered, hungry, ketotic woman - slows down labour, makes emergency section more likely!
f) disallowing food in labour also sets up every labouring woman as a potential emeragency section, iyswim - self-fulfilling prophecy

Basically, anyone who tells you that you can't eat in labour is talking crap smile You're pretty unlikely to want anything other than a bit of chocolate/bite of sandwich etc anyway - we're not talking 3-course meals here.

No-one can stop you doing anything you damn well please in labour - if you want to eat, eat!

notcitrus Wed 03-Sep-08 18:14:15

I've been told the same as what snaf said, with the additions that my hospital tells you to bring food in, but warns women often throw up in labour so suggests Lucozade, water and some sugary stuff, but not food that's heavy on the stomach.

Wouldn't like to be on a drip myself if it's at all avoidable - even if they are technically mobile it's a bugger getting to the loo - which I understand you want to do a lot in labour...

LackaDAISYcal Wed 03-Sep-08 18:28:52

I didn't have anything from lunchtime on Friday until teatime on Saturday (other than a couple of slices of toast after DS was delivered as I'd missed emCS (coincidence?)), but tbh after my waters broke, I don't think I even gave food a second thought. I had as much water and energy drinks as I needed though.

I do remember feeling really nauseaous when I had me elective CS with DD, and feeling generally very unwell during it, so maybe that's why? It's a bit dickensian though to not let you labour naturally and do what you feel you should.

this time, I'm planning on labouring at home for as long as possible before going in so hopefully I'll be able to keep my energy levels high enough to see me through it.

expatinscotland Wed 03-Sep-08 18:48:17

i was not allowed to drink or eat whilst in labour with DD1.

20 hours in a sweltering labour room.

when i finally needed forceps, the S. African anaesthetist was furious i hadn't been put on a drip when i first had my epidural, as i was dehydrated as hell and my heartrate was shaky from it.

it took days to get over that dehydration.

this time, i'm taking the Gatorade powder and Gu.

PeppermintPatty Wed 03-Sep-08 18:58:50

I didn't eat or drink anything in labour (well I did but I brought it straight back up - I couldn't stop vomiting). Unfortunately, my labour was long and after 2 days I put on a drip because I had ketones in my urine, and was also given anti-sickness injections.
Ended up with a CS and afterwards I had to spend a long time in the recovery room because I was so dehydrated.
I think it's probably because they thought you would end up with a CS. When they suspected I would end up with a CS they told me not to eat or drink anything (not that I could anyway!!).

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