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Could protein shakes replace ice chips during labor?
By Missy Jaramillo
Any woman who has already experienced giving birth naturally is familiar with the presence of ice chips in the delivery room. Nurses and doctors often give these chips to women to suck on during labor in the absence of any other food or sustenance. Many women may find this irritating, as they are being denied food and nutrition during the time in their pregnancy when they need it most. These women may find that there is good news next time they reach the delivery room, however.
A new study presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY™ 2013 annual meeting suggests that ice chips may not be enough for many women who are experiencing labor. Instead, these women may find protein shakes a more strengthening and satisfying option.
The study looked at 150 women during pregnancy, and split them into two separate groups. Half of the participants received the standard ice chips while in labor, and the other half were given the high-protein shakes. While instances of nausea and vomiting were the same in both groups, the women who consumed the high-protein shakes during the delivery process reported that they were more satisfied with their labor experience than those who did not.
"Giving birth is a tremendous stress on both mother and baby," said Manuel Vallejo, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Anesthesiology at the West Virginia University School of Medicine. "Anything we can do to increase patient satisfaction during labor without increasing adverse events is a major positive. Physicians should feel comfortable replacing ice chips or water with a high-protein drink supplement."
Consuming protein during pregnancy is essential for healthy baby development in the womb, however, it can also help provide mothers with the strength they need for the delivery process. Doctors often advise women to increase their protein intake during pregnancy for this reason. This study could be an important step, especially for women who have extended periods of labor, as it may help them keep their strength up until the critical moment.
Despite results, protein shakes may not be right for some
While this may be welcome news for many expecting mothers who were worried about having nothing but ice chips, there are still certain reasons why doctors prefer patients to have an empty stomach during delivery. Nausea and vomiting are common occurrences in the delivery room, and clearing the stomach of nothing but ice chips can make this process easier and less messy. Furthermore, certain birthing complications may mean the mother requires emergency surgery, such as a cesarean section, and in these cases it's best if the patient's stomach is empty. Doctors need to consider the risks relating to each patient before deciding whether protein shakes are a viable option during labor.
Does the idea of more than just ice chips being available in the delivery room make you feel better about your pregnancy? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.