Despite unlimited ice chips, pregnant women have been told for years that they shouldn't eat anything during labor. Some hospitals even prohibit food once a woman is admitted, not allowing her to eat again until her tiny little bundle of joy is safely delivered.

But luckily for hungry, pregnant women everywhere, a new study from the American Society of Anesthesiologists found that not only is eating during labor not dangerous, it may actually benefit the mommies-to-be.

By analyzing almost 400 studies from the last 25 years that focused on women who gave birth in hospitals, researchers found that the physical demands of labor are similar to those of running of a marathon. According to the ASA:

“Without adequate nutrition, women’s bodies will begin to use fat as an energy source, increasing acidity of the blood in the mother and infant, potentially reducing uterine contractions and leading to longer labor and lower health scores in newborns. Additionally, the studies suggest that fasting can cause emotional stress, potentially moving blood away from the uterus and placenta, lengthening labor and contributing to distress of the fetus.”

So why were women told not to eat in the first place?

For years, it was believed that while anesthetized, women might inhale liquid or food into their lungs (aspirate), which could lead to choking and death. But with medical improvements and anesthesia being administered in the spine (as opposed to by face mask), aspirating during labor is now highly unlikely.

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So eat up, laboring women! You, your body and your baby will be grateful!

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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