Traditionally, the practice of restricting fluids and food during labor has been thought to be beneficial. Practitioners have held this view since the 1940s. The restriction is thought to prevent Mendelson’s syndrome (named after work by Dr. Carl Mendelson), a very rare, but sometimes fatal, result of regurgitated acidic stomach contents entering into the lungs when a general anesthetic is given. Research coming from Queen’s University is poised to change this long held belief. “Based on our review, there is no convincing and current evidence to support restriction of fluids, and perhaps food, for women during labor. Women should be able to choose for themselves,” says Dr. Joan Tranmer of the Queen’s School of Nursing. “The food and fluid restriction can be stressful and uncomfortable for some pregnant women, especially for those who are in labor for more than 12 hours and unable to eat.” Dr. Tranmer continues, “Instead of eating ice chips, a snack can provide some nourishment, comfort and much needed energy.” Professor Tranmer went on to explain that the use of general anesthesia is quite rare nowadays, and when it is used the techniques have improved so much since the 1940s, that the risk of maternal death or illness is very low.
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