ACOG released a new comittee opinion on oral intake during labor...you can check it out here. It's really nice to see that ACOG is gradually catching up with the evidence. They must be behind on their journal reading like I am :p
Midwives have long encouraged women to eat and drink to comfort during labor. However, hospitals and ob/gyns enforced a policy of no food and only ice chips. The concern being that if a woman had to have an emergency section, she could aspirate the contents of her stomach, causing aspiration pnuemonia, which is no joke.
ACOG now 'gives permission' for women to have 'moderate' amounts of clear fluids during labor. Wow. That's pretty frickin' generous of them! They are so kind and benevolent. :pppp
So I'd like to make a couple points...
1. When women are 'allowed' only water and ice chips, the contents of their stomachs become more acidic...so if they were to aspirate these contents, this would only increase the damage and severity (imagine pouring acid into your lungs).
2. Simple carbs are often beneficial to women in providing energy for labor.
3. The article states that N&V is quite common in women in labor so therefore women won't want to eat. In my experience, rarely do I see pukers! Now granted, many women in labor do not want to eat once they get pretty active. But that's not the point! The point is that women should have that choice.
4. The concern of aspiration is pertinent when general anesthesia is used. I can count on one hand how many time in 6 years I have seen general anesthesia used. It's not common. Bad for baby. So the risk of aspirating is minimal (can't quote a percentage here off the top of my head but have read research on this).