3.1.8  Drinking fluids during labour

A woman in labour is lying on her side. A health worker offers her some fluids to drink between the contractions.

A woman in labour uses up the water in her body quickly and she also uses up a lot of energy. During the first stage of labour, she should drink at least 1 cup every hour of a high calorie fluid such as tea, soft drinks, soup, or fruit juice. If she does not drink enough, she may get dehydrated (not enough water in the body). This can make her labour much longer and harder. Dehydration can also make a woman feel exhausted.

Signs of dehydration include:

Dehydrated skin is shown being pinched and not falling back to normal.
  • Dry lips
  • Sunken eyes
  • Loss of stretchiness of skin
  • Mild fever (up to 38°C)
  • Fast, deep breathing (more than 20 breaths a minute)
  • Fast, weak pulse (more than 100 beats a minute)
  • Baby’s heartbeat faster than 160 beats a minute.

3.1.9  Bladder care