Women undergoing labor are usually only given ice chips to suck on because general anesthesia may increase the risk of food and water aspiration into the lungs, which may prove to be fatal.

However, a new study featured on Science Daily reports that protein shakes may be a better substitute.

West Virginia University School of Medicine professor Manuel C. Vallejo and his colleagues split 150 women into two groups: one group was only given ice chips and water during labor, while the other group was given a 325ml glass of protein shake with "30 grams of protein, one gram of sugar, eight amino acids and 24 vitamins and minerals," in addition to ice chips and water. The goal was to see if certain drinks could lessen labor stress due to food and drink restriction without compromising the women's health.

Although the protein shake did nothing to lessen the frequency of nausea and vomiting among the mothers, it did increase their satisfaction ratings. Moreover, the stomach emptying rate of those who drank the shake was around 26 minutes, which was comparable to the 20 minutes of those who only had ice chips and water, meaning that it could be a better alternative to the traditional option.

Would-be mothers may consult their doctors on what they can consume prior to giving birth. Doing so may help them feel less anxious about the whole process.

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(Photo by Katrin Morenz via Flickr Creative Commons)

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