Oral Intake and Emesis in Labor


  • Sharon A. O'Reilly RNC, MS,

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    • Sharon A. O'Reilly is a certified OBGYN nurse practitioner for Leland, Fleming, Dindoffer and Associates in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Ms. O'Reilly is Adjunct Faculty at the University of Michigan, School of Nursing, and precepts students in the graduate school practitioner program. She is a member of NAACOG, Sigma Theta Tau, and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

  • Paulette J. Perrone Hoyer RNC, PhD,

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    • Paulette J. Perrone Hoyer is a certified OB-GYN nurse practitioner and is on the graduate faculty at the University of Michigan School of Nursing in the women's health tract. Dr. Hoyer is a member of NAACOG, Sigma Theta Tau, the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, and the Association of Nurse Practitioner Faculties.

  • Elissa Walsh RN, MSN

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    • Elissa Walsh is a doctoral student in the nursing program at the University of Michigan. She is a research nurse at Hutzel Hospital in Detroit and on the staff of the Family Birthing Center at Providence Hospital. Ms. Walsh is a member of Midwest Nursing Research Society, Sigma Theta Tau, and the Human Behavior and Evolution Society.

University of Michigan, School of Nursing, Division II/Parent–Child Nursing, 400 NIB #3184, Ann Arbor, MI 48109–0482.


This study examined the pattern of oral intake and its impact on emesis and other complications in low-risk gravidas during labor. It is common clinical practice to restrict oral intake in most institutions. The historical bases for this restrictive practice are explored. Findings from this study indicate that when given a choice, all 106 women chose a variety of types and amounts of oral intake throughout all stages of labor. Over 80% of women who ate or drank during labor had no emesis. Of the 20 who did have any emesis, 40% (eight) vomited more than once. None of the women who vomited experienced poor outcomes. These data suggest that women who choose oral intake during labor are at relatively low risk for complications related to this intake. Based on a comprehensive review of the literature and these study results, practitioners should allow as much choice as is consistent with empirical knowledge and safe practice.