WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 25, 2009)—Displaying a stunning lack of regard for patient autonomy, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) issued a statement this week declaring that the group will “allow” laboring women to drink “modest amounts” of clear fluids during labor while continuing to prohibit access to solid food.
“Once again ACOG has issued a position statement with little regard for the evidence or for the ability of women to make decisions for themselves,” said Susan Jenkins, Legal Counsel for The Big Push for Midwives Campaign. “It’s insulting that ACOG actually believes that laboring women should be grateful that they will now be ‘allowed’ to have more than just ice chips, when we have long known how vital nutritional sustenance is to mothers and babies not only during pregnancy, but during labor as well.”
Hospitals routinely adopt ACOG position statements as standard policy governing the treatment of pregnant and laboring women, despite the fact that a number of the organization’s position statements do not acknowledge all of the risks and benefits associated with common procedures. “ACOG is asking laboring women to do the physical equivalent of a marathon on the power of a ‘modest’ amount of clear liquid,” said Sabrina McIntyre, mother of two. “Thanks but no thanks. I’ll stick with my midwife and her wisdom of keeping up my physical stamina for such a monumental event.”
Policies restricting food and liquid intake date from an era when laboring women were routinely given general anesthesia and risked aspirating food into the lungs. Modern anesthetic techniques have virtually eliminated this risk, which is further reduced by the fact that only a tiny minority of laboring women, even among those who deliver via cesarean section, actually receive general anesthesia.
“The women in my birth center eat when they are hungry and drink when they are thirsty, all without asking for ACOG’s permission first,” said Elizabeth Allemann, MD. “Women deserve to be fully informed about what the evidence actually shows, and it’s time that the medical profession abandoned policies based on the outdated and paternalistic idea that patients should play no role whatsoever in the decision-making process.”
The Big Push for Midwives Campaign represents thousands of grassroots advocates in the United States who support expanding access to Certified Professional Midwives and out-of-hospital maternity care. The mission of The Big Push includes educating national policymakers about the reduced costs and improved outcomes associated with out-of-hospital birth and advocating for including the services of Certified Profession al Midwives in health care reform.
Media inquiries: Katherine Prown (414) 550-8025,
I’ve been watching the news regarding ACOG, health care reform and Midwives. I believe women (especially low risk ones!) should be allowed to eat or drink as needed during labor. Food and drink are the only way you can muster the strength and stamina to get through labor. I know from personal experience.
Personally, I had a huge pancake, bacon and hash brown breakfast and PB & J for lunch during my dilation and between contractions. I also had yogurt, mixed nuts, Powerade and water during my pushing phase of labor. It was 18 hours from the time my water broke till my baby girl was born.
There is no way in hell I would have gotten through the labor and delivery without food and drink, that is probably what ACOG wanted though. If you are too tired to push and aren’t progressing on your own (because you are starving and also running on empty) they can intervene with more costly, forceful delivery procedures…
Think about it, the more women who can’t get through labor & delivery on their own the better for their pocket books right?
Okay, I am done ranting and being opinionated. Just wanted to share the info. What are your thoughts?