Why Keeping Hydrated in Labour is Important
This is an important message for all pregnant women. I will keep it short and sweet summer is here labour wards get hot, time goes by rapidly when you’re in labour. Nutrition is really important but most importantly is hydration.
When women are in early or active labour they should only drink to what their thirst is. We recommend isotonic drinks rather than plain water. Non fizzy isotonic drinks can increase a woman’s energy levels by providing a relatively small calorific intake. They maybe more beneficial than water (NICE 2007). Water alone is not enough although beneficial, labour uses a lot of energy, many women find it difficult to eat, so sipping isotonic drinks can help hydrate the Uterus and nourish the baby.
If a woman only drinks water she will flush out her kidneys and may suffer from having very low sodium levels. The impact of this is that the women become very confused, this can also inhibit contractions which will slow the labour down. The results of a woman with hyponatremia is that the baby may suffer from neonatal hyponatremia – this can result in hearing loss, low IQ and problems at birth.
Obviously some labours are longer than others, if you are hoping for a normal birth, then making sure you look after your hydration needs is really a good place to start. You enter labour hydrated then your body is in a great place and will work more efficiently and keep baby hydrated too.
If Midwives and Doctors suspect that you are becoming dehydrated they may offer you a drip, this will help, but it does mean you will be less mobile.
So stay safe ladies and ensure you pack at least 2 NON fizzy isotonic drinks in your labour bag.
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Wendy Kuharska Practising Midwife