Study objective: To examine current policies on oral intake during labor among hospitals throughout the United States.
Design and setting: Anonymous questionnaire survey distributed to the directors of anesthesia and obstetrics departments of 740 hospitals. Completed surveys were then grouped by number of deliveries performed each year.
Measurements and main results: A total of 2,265 surveys were distributed. Of that number, 902 (33% response rate) surveys, representing 740 U.S. hospitals, were returned. Of the surveys returned, 419 surveys were received from obstetricians and 401 surveys were received from anesthesiologists. Oral intake during labor is limited primarily to clear liquids, although hospitals with fewer deliveries allow significantly more oral intake during latent phase than do hospitals with larger services. Allowing nonclear liquids or solid foods is uncommon in either phase of labor, regardless of hospital size.
Conclusions: The results give an indication of oral intake policies used by labor and delivery units in the United States, and they may be helpful for obstetric services that are in the process of developing their own policies.