Short Report| Volume 52, 103598, November 2022

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A multicenter interdisciplinary survey of practices and opinions regarding oral intake during labor

Published:September 05, 2022DOI:


      • Survey regarding oral intake in labor in units in Israel.
      • Practices varied between disciplines, midwives were significantly more permissive.
      • Women received conflicting recommendations.
      • There is a lack of awareness of the risks associated with oral intake in labor.
      • There is a need for standardized guidelines and patient risk stratification.



      Different society guidelines diverge regarding oral intake in labor. Our goal was to assess practices and opinions in Israeli labor and delivery units, comparing different disciplines.


      An anonymous Google Forms survey was sent to anesthesiologists, obstetricians and midwives in all Israeli labor and delivery units.


      Responses were collected from all 27 labor and delivery units contacted, with a total of 501 respondents comprising 161 anesthesiologists, 102 obstetricians and 238 midwives. Forty-eight per cent stated there were no institutional guidelines for oral intake. The most common oral intake permitted was light food (60%). Midwives were significantly more likely than anesthesiologists and obstetricians to consider that women who are both low risk for cesarean delivery (P <0.00001) and high risk for cesarean delivery (P=0.001) should eat. Epidural analgesia did not impact recommendations regarding oral intake. The most common reasons for restricting oral intake were obstetric. Sixty-two per cent identified aspiration as the main risk associated with eating during labor, but 19% of midwives compared with 4% of anesthesiologists and obstetricians stated there were no risks (P <0.00001). The annual delivery volume of the unit did not impact staff practices.


      There was a discrepancy between opinions and practices across all disciplines. Permissive practices identified in this survey should be addressed to find the safe middle ground between restrictive and permissive policies for low- and high-risk women.


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