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Oral Intake During Labor Shows No Increase in Adverse Outcomes

Group permitted nothing by mouth were significantly more likely to undergo unplanned c-section

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 28, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Ad lib oral intake during labor does not increase maternal or neonatal adverse outcomes compared with allowing women nothing by mouth during labor, according to a study published in the March issue of the American Journal of Nursing.

Anne Shea-Lewis, R.N., from the St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson, N.Y., and colleagues conducted a quantitative retrospective observational cross-sectional study using the medical records of women admitted to a regional community hospital between January 2008 and December 2012. Final sample sizes were 2,797 (for comparison across covariates) and 2,784 (for comparison across outcomes). The authors compared maternal and neonatal outcomes among laboring women permitted ad lib oral intake with those permitted only ice chips.

The researchers found that, compared with the group permitted ad lib oral intake, the group permitted nothing by mouth was significantly more likely to have an unplanned cesarean section birth. No significant differences were seen in unplanned maternal admissions to the intensive care unit postpartum. There were also no significant differences in neonate condition, as determined by Apgar scores, or in the need for a higher level of care. There was no increase in morbidity with allowing women ad lib oral intake during labor; no mortalities were seen in either group.

“Allowing women ad lib oral intake during labor does not increase adverse maternal or neonatal outcomes. It stands to reason that allowing such intake could increase patient satisfaction,” the authors write. “Further study is needed to determine what types of food and drink are most beneficial as well as what types are preferred.”

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