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Food intake in labour: the benefits and drawbacks

The issue of whether to restrict the oral intake of food and fluids to women during labour has caused extensive controversy over the years. The basis of the argument is that women in labour who have been allowed to eat or drink, and then require a general anaesthetic, are at risk of death, owing to aspiration of their gastric contents - this is known as Mendelson’s syndrome (Mendelson, 1946).

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