The effect of unrestricted fluid intake during labour on the multiparous woman and her perception of control and pain during childbirth

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Klassen, Florence Elaine
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In many birthing units it is common practice to restrict oral fluid intake during labour and delivery. Research has demonstrated that the practice of eating and drinking during labour does not impose a threat and, in fact, may benefit women in labour (Roberts & Ludka, 1993; Rooks, et al, 1989; Greulich, et al, 1994). The philosophy that childbirth is a healthy, normal event formed the basis for a randomized clinical trial of unrestricted drinking during labour as it relates to the multiparous woman's perceptions of control and pain. Information about related interventions, length of labour, use of additional treatments and newborn outcomes was also gathered. Differences between the experimental group that received unrestricted fluids and the control group that received restricted fluids were not statistically significant. Since women who had full fluids had outcomes that were no worse than those who received only clear fluids nurses in clinical practice should advocate for more liberal fluid intake for women in labour. Additional research is needed with larger sample sizes to examine this issue of oral intake during labour.