This study by Ciardulli et al. (Obstetrics Gynecology, 2017) aimed to assess the risks vs. benefits of food ingestion during labor.
Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
10 trials were performed, including 3,982 women in labor, all of whom had singleton and low-risk pregnancies. In three of the studies the women were allowed to eat a low-residue diet throughout labor. Five of the studies allowed carbohydrate drinks during labor, and only one study allowed unrestricted food intake. In all studies, women in the control group were allowed ice chips, water, or sips of water up until delivery. In the studies where women were allowed to ingest food, participants had significantly shorter durations of labor (on average -16 minutes). No risks were associated with eating food. Regurgitation under general anesthesia and aspiration pneumonitis did not occur in either group, and operative rates were similar.
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