(HealthDay News) – For women in labor there is no evidence of benefits or harms of food and fluid restriction, according to research published online Aug. 22 in The Cochrane Library.

Mandisa Singata, RN, from the University of the Witwatersrand/University of Fort Hare/East London Hospital complex in South Africa, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review to examine the benefits and harms of oral fluid or food restriction during labor. Five randomized controlled trials or quasi-randomized controlled trials, including 3,130 women, compared outcomes for women randomized to food and fluid restriction vs. those who were free to eat.

The researchers found that there were no statistically significant differences identified in cesarean section, operative vaginal births, and Apgar scores <7 seen at five minutes, nor in any other outcomes assessed for restriction of fluid and food vs. receiving nutrition during labor. The studies did not assess women’s views. In one study with a small sample size, there was a significant increase in cesarean sections for women consuming carbohydrate drinks in labor compared with water only.

“Since the evidence shows no benefits or harms, there is no justification for the restriction of fluids and food in labor for women at low risk of complications,” the authors write. “Conflicting evidence on carbohydrate solutions means further studies are needed and it is critical in any future studies to assess women’s views.”

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