Monday, January 10, 2011

Getting Through Labor: Hydration

One thing that many people don't think of when they think of their own comfort in labor is the topic of hydration. Getting dehydrated can contribute to tiredness, headaches, weakness, nausea and vomiting.

In almost every hospital, when you go in to have a baby, the nurse will want to start an IV as part of the admission procedure. This is not something that you have to consent to and I want parents to know that Mom can be hydrated just as well, and possibly better, by continuing to drink throughout her labor.

Some of the disadvantagest to consenting to an IV are:

- IVs interfere with mom's mobility

- IVs cause fluid overload, which can lead to fluid in both mother and baby's lungs

- The increase the rates of newborn jaundice

- The extra fluid from the IV infusion can artificially inflate the baby's birth weight and weight loss after birth. Since doctor's look at weight loss to determine how well breastfeeding is going, this can cause them to think that baby isn't getting enough to eat when he actually is.

The safer, healthier choice in labor is to eat what you feel like eating and to drink to thirst in early labor. Later in labor (like during transition and pushing), the partner or doula should offer sips of water and juice frequently.

In The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth, the author says, "A sport-medicine physician would be horrified at the suggestion that an athlete engage in an endurance event with no food, nourishing drinks, or even water, but obstetricians and anesthesiologists are too wedded to their beliefs about labor to see it in these terms."

Luckily, midwives have long understood the value of eating and drinking during labor, and as more and more parents demand to be treated humanely during their births, hospital policies are slowly changing to allow laboring mothers to eat and drink.

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