It is and has been beyond clear that eating and drinking during labor is not only safe but for many women it is vital to achieving a normal, healthy birth.
Most women don't want a huge meal during active labor and beyond. That's fine and normal. But it's really important that she's able to listen to her body and eat if she is hungry and drink when she is thirsty. Shocking, right? This is especially critical if she hasn't had anything nourishing for a while or if her labor is on the longer side. Staying hydrated is vitally important during labor. Imagine getting through an intense workout let alone BIRTH when you haven't eaten or had anything to drink all day! Except that women are still being denied food and water during labor by many providers and hospitals.
WHY, when our bodies are telling us to drink or eat to continue its task, have we instead bowed to "experts" with terrible statistics who have never even witnessed an untouched physiological birth?
If your place of birth or provider is following such outdated restrictions that contradict evidence and common sense, it should be a huge red flag. If they can't even change that simple thing to reflect current evidence that has been widely available and known for years, what other outdated things are they doing or not doing that are unsafe for you and your baby? How else are they putting moms and babies at risk?
If you need to sneak or lie in order to literally hydrate and nourish yourself during one of the most arduous physical feats you will accomplish in your lifetime, then maybe that is a sign that you need to make a change. You should not need to negotiate with your provider over something as basic as hydration. If your provider trusts an I.V. infusion over you just drinking some orange juice or water when your energy is waning, warning bells should be going off.
The ancient reason for this restriction was that in the case of a true emergency cesarean and general anesthesia became necessary, it was thought to limit the chance of mom aspirating while under anesthesia. But not only have anesthesia methods greatly evolved since then and the risk is pretty much zero for that (check out Evidence Based Birth's article on the topic) what if limiting food and water actually *increased the need* for those cesareans? What if "failure to progress" or "maternal fatigue" was just her poor body not being allowed basic nutrition and hydration? And why do we not even change this restriction for mothers already on an epidural or spinal block who wouldn't need general anesthesia? Even the American Society of Anesthesiology has said that fasting during labor is not necessary. In fact, not one professional society says that women should be restricted to only ice chips during labor. So why then do so many providers and hospitals continue to ignore that and starve or dehydrate mothers with these archaic rules?
So here's to eating and drinking whatever the heck you want during your labor because you're a human being who needs food and water. Here's to finding providers and places of birth that don't follow crazy old rules and actually encourage moms to listen to and trust their bodies. Here's to birthing with dignity and respect.