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ABSTRACT

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.