Protein shakes are OK for moms in labor

By Sheryl Kay • Published: January 22nd, 2014
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Imagine being in the throes of the worst pain you’ve ever felt in your life. You’re sweating. Your mouth is dry. You ask for something to drink … and all you get are some lousy ice chips.

Welcome to being in labor. For decades, women giving birth in American hospitals have been denied any sort of sustenance. Doctors have long thought that any nourishment whatsoever could cause problems if a woman ends up needing an emergency Cesarean section.

But new research shows that this might be not completely correct. In fact, ice chips or water alone may leave the laboring mother dehydrated or with low blood sugar levels.

In a study presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, researchers worked with 150 women who underwent epidural anesthesia during labor. Patients were randomly assigned to two groups — one that only received water or ice chips, and a second group that received water, ice chips and protein shakes. Not only did the investigators find that there was no difference at all in terms of nausea and vomiting experienced by the moms of both groups, but those that received the protein shake reported a higher satisfaction with their entire birth experience when compared to the moms who only got ice or water.

The researchers then took a smaller set of each of the two larger groups and compared the differences in the women’s digestion. This may help them evaluate whether the protein shakes could pose a problem for laboring moms who need immediate anesthesia for a C-section, which is dangerous for patients with a full stomach. Results showed no difference between the two groups.

While the study did not look at high-risk patients, the investigators say revised nourishment plans for healthy laboring moms might be in order.

That calls for a round of celebratory protein shakes for the maternity ward.