Please eat during labor. You’ve already got enough going on; you don’t want to be hungry on top of everything else! If you’re hungry and you feel up to eating more than ice chips, then eat.
For a long time, if you were in labor and got an epidural, the rule was that you were not allowed to eat. Anesthesiologists were concerned that eating while in labor would cause women who needed emergency anesthesia to aspirate food from their stomachs into their lungs, which can cause severe problems in certain situations. However, thanks to improvements in the administration of anesthesia, the risk of this happening is incredibly small.
Whether you choose to eat during labor should be a conversation between you and your healthcare providers. It will also largely depend on how you’re feeling at any given time. Some women are in labor for hours or even days without feeling the need to eat, but you should remember that your body is doing a lot of work and needs calories to sustain the effort.
If you don’t take in the needed calories during labor, your body will begin to use fat as an energy source. While that might sound like an exciting new way to lose some of the pregnancy weight, it’s got some serious downsides for your newborn child. When the body processes fat, the acidity level in the blood of both mother and infant increase, as does stress levels, which can lead to longer labor and lower APGAR scores.
So, if you feel up to eating during delivery, a light meal is a superb idea. It might help you take your mind off your contractions for a few minutes, or it might just be a great excuse to get an annoying person out of the room. You may not feel like eating during labor, or may only want liquids, and that’s ok too. Go with what feels right and don’t worry about outdated rules when you’re craving a piece of toast during a break between contractions.