Objective: to identify factors affecting women's oral nutrition in labour. Design: literature review (1988-2009). Setting: Westernised maternity care settings. Participants: women, midwives, obstetricians, anaesthetists and hospitals. Measurements and findings: when addressing labour stages, the risk categorisation of women and maternal/fetal birthing outcomes, there was a lack of consistent evidence identifying adverse outcomes for mothers/infants when oral nutrition in labour had occurred. Key conclusions: little evidence exists to support the continuance of restrictive practices around oral nutrition in labour for all women. Women's choice is impacted by health practitioners' opinions, experience and practice methods and policy (or lack thereof). Policies are not reflective of current evidence. Implications for practice: women's choices and desires regarding oral nutrition in labour need to be addressed. Clear guidelines/policies need to be established based on current evidence. Midwives need greater exposure to research, as well as involvement in policy development and implementation.
- Oral nutrition