• Cesarean Birth;
  • Evidence-Based Practice;
  • Preoperative Fasting;
  • Scheduled Cesarean Birth

Objectives:  To measure actual and instructed preoperative fasting durations in women undergoing scheduled cesarean birth, to compare these times with national guidelines for healthy patients undergoing elective procedures, and to describe discomforts associated with preoperative fasting.

Design:  One group, nonexperimental, comparative, descriptive.

Setting:  Nonprofit private medical center in Texas with 6,000 births/year.

Patients:  Convenience sample of 51 hospitalized postpartum women.

Interventions:  Participants were interviewed an average of 44 hours after their cesarean birth, and their medical records were reviewed for fasting information.

Main outcome measures:  Duration of actual and instructed fasting, comparison with national guidelines, and ratings of thirst and hunger.

Results:  The participants fasted from liquids and solids an average of 11 and 13 hours, respectively. Both actual and instructed fasting durations were significantly longer than national guidelines. Most participants (70%) were instructed to be nulla per os after midnight whether they were to have a.m. or p.m. surgery. Thirst and hunger scores averaged 5 and 4, respectively, on a 0-10 scale.

Conclusion:  Patients having scheduled cesarean birth fast for unnecessarily long periods. Nurses should be knowledgeable about evidence-based preoperative fasting practices and collaborate with physicians to implement them. JOGNN, 35, 257-264; 2006. DOI: 10.1111/J.1552-6909.2006.00029.x