Bye Bye Ice Chips, Hello Chocolate Shake in Labor!

If the nurse says it's ok, have a chocolate shake to ease your worries! Image by alvimann.

Could you have a protein shake while you’re in labor? Image by alvimann.

Universal ‘Clear Liquids Only’ Policy

If you fit into the ‘danger-zone’ in any way, you’ll most likely still get a clear-liquids-only order. If that’s the case, it’s because your caregivers are concerned about your safety – they’re not trying to deprive you.

Dr. Vallejo explains, “I would recommend that patients who are at high risk (difficult airway, severe diabetes with delayed stomach emptying, morbid obesity) be careful about ingesting liquid or food that may potentially end up in their lungs from aspiration as a result of having to undergo a general anesthetic for an emergency cesarean section. It is extremely important that mom be available to take care of her child and not end up in the ICU on a ventilator because of aspiration.

A major result we found in our study is that stomach emptying on average for ice/chips water was 20 minutes and only 26 minutes for the protein shake. This means that a mom in early labor who is expected to labor for many hours can have a protein shake which would be totally cleared within 30 minutes (and would have the same risk as not having a protein shake) after this.

Protein Shake Improves Patient Satisfaction

Since your body is able to process the protein shake just as quickly as it can process ice chips, you’ll be just as safe with a shake as you’d be with ice – but the shake could give you the energy you need to make it through the intense process of labor. As Dr. Vallejo tells us, “… labor is an extremely physically demanding aerobic exercise and the ability to get calories (and sustenance) was extremely important to the patients.”

Overall, I would love to implement the clear liquid practice, especially with protein shakes, in the labor and delivery room. Protein shakes may give you the energy to get through labor easier, and result in more satisfaction with the birthing process. Talk to your birth team about this possibility while you’re still pregnant, and you may be able to add a protein shake to your hospital bag!

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Newswise. Women in Labor Can Ditch the Ice Chips and Drink a Protein Shake Instead. Accessed October 18, 2013

Cobb, Benjamin M.D., et al. Maternal Outcomes in Parturients Supplemented With a High Protein Drink in Labor. (2013). University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Cornell University. Body Mass Index.  (2000). Critical Care Pediatrics. Accessed October 18, 2013.

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