• intravenous;
  • intrapartum;
  • breastfed;
  • newborn weight loss



To determine the effect of conservative versus usual intrapartum intravenous (IV) fluid management for low-risk women receiving epidural analgesia on weight loss in breastfed newborns.


A randomized controlled trial.


A tertiary perinatal center in a large urban setting.


Women experiencing uncomplicated pregnancies who planned to have epidural analgesia and to breastfeed.


Healthy pregnant women were randomized to receive an IV epidural preload volume of <500 mLs continuing at an hourly rate of 75–100 mL/h (conservative care) or an epidural preload volume of ≥500 mLs and an hourly rate >125 mL/h (usual care). The primary study outcome was breastfed newborn weight loss >7% prior to hospital discharge. Secondary study outcomes included breastfeeding exclusivity, referral to outpatient breastfeeding clinic support, and delayed discharge. Other outcomes were admission to the neonatal intensive care unit and cord blood pH <7.25.


Two hundred women participated (100 in the conservative care and 100 in the usual care groups). Forty-eight of 100 infants in the usual care group and 44 of the 100 infants in the conservative care group lost >7% of their birth weight prior to discharge, p < 0.52 RR 0.92 [0.68–1.24].


A policy of restricted IV fluids did not affect newborn weight loss. Women and their care providers should be reassured that the volumes of IV fluid <2500 mLs are unlikely to have a clinically meaningful effect on breastfed newborn weight loss >7%. Exploratory analyses suggest that breastfed newborn weight loss increases when intrapartum volumes infused are >2500 mLs. Care providers are encouraged to consider volumes of IV fluid infused intrapartum as a factor that may have contributed to early newborn weight loss in the first 48 h of life.