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Restriction of Oral Intake During Labor: Whither are We Bound?

Sperling, Jeffrey D. MD; Dahlke, Joshua D. MD; Sibai, Baha M. MD

Obstetric Anesthesia Digest: March 2017 - Volume 37 - Issue 1 - p 2–3
doi: 10.1097/01.aoa.0000511992.30281.a9
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(Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2016;214(5):592–596)

Oral intake during labor is encouraged in some settings while being restricted in others. Dr Curtis Mendelson in 1946 suggested that aspiration during general anesthesia in obstetrics could be avoided with oral restriction during labor. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) in 2013 reiterated that oral intake of small amounts of clear liquids but not solids may be allowed in uncomplicated cases. Contradictory to this, the World Health Organization (WHO) suggested that healthcare providers should not prevent a woman from oral intake during labor as the energy demands are huge and replenishment could ensure maternal and fetal well-being. Patients at greater risk for aspiration are those who have gastrointestinal and neurological disorders, and other obstetric conditions. This commentary aimed to assess the evidence of restricting oral intake in low-risk patients and to inquire into the role of this general practice in modern obstetrics.

Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Women & Infants Hospital, Providence, RI

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