Important Things to Know About IV Fluids During Labour

Important Things to Know About IV Fluids During Labour

8 Mar 2022 | 4 min Read

Sayani Basu

Author | 625 Articles

IV stands for intravenous. An IV is a flexible catheter that is placed in your vein (usually in your hand or lower arm) during labour, to administer fluids, pitocin to help your uterus cramp down and not bleed, antibiotics, or pain-relieving medication. 

In some hospitals, it’s a standard practice to give intravenous lines (an IV) during labour. Expecting mums receive IV fluid therapy to maintain adequate hydration. The three most common IV solutions for labouring women are normal saline, Ringer’s lactate, and dextrose solutions.

According to research, fluids to women during childbirth help to reduce the risk of caesarean section, and shorten labour. However, other hospitals may not give the expecting mum an IV fluid unless there’s a need.

Is it always needed? Why is an IV needed in labour? Here’s everything you need to know about IVs.

Why Are IV Fluids Needed During Labour?

IV fluids are placed as a precaution to prevent dehydration during labour. | Image Source: freepik

IV fluids are placed as a precaution to prevent dehydration. It becomes all the more important especially if an expecting mum is not allowed to intake fluids or drink water during labour. It prepares you for an emergency that necessitates medication.

Labour pain involves extreme pressure. Expecting mums also experience severe menstrual cramps during labour. In order to perform such a difficult task, it is important to keep the expecting mum hydrated.

IV fluids are also required in case:

  • you have a high risk of complications
  • you have an epidural
  • you need to be induced using pitocin
  • you need antibiotics or other medication during labour
  • you are having a c-section

Is An IV Fluid Always Needed?

If a pregnant woman has no complicated medical history and has normal labour, she is allowed to eat and drink. This means she is hydrated. Hence, an IV is not needed in such a scenario.

It completely depends on the hospital’s policy. But an IV is not always needed and the expecting mum has the right to refuse it.

Side Effects of IV Fluids

There are some risks of taking IV fluids. Some of the side-effects are:

  1. Edema: Due to excessive fluid retention, various body parts tend to swell. The body already has to lose excessive fluid that is accumulated during the pregnancy term. So, excessive hydration can cause complications that last for days.
Excessive fluid retention causes swelling in the breasts and it becomes difficult for the infant to latch for a feed. | Image Source: freepik
  1. Challenges in Breastfeeding: As the excessive fluid retention causes swelling in the breasts too, it becomes difficult for the infant to latch for a feed. It can also be painful for the mums to breastfeed. Due to difficulty in latching, there wouldn’t be proper stimulation for milk production. As a result, the body could reduce the milk formation. In such a case, edema would make pumping of milk difficult even when the mum tries to pump.
  1. Restricted movement: Unnecessary intake of IV fluids can restrict your movement in the labour room. If you are not comfortable and safe during the birthing process, it affects your hormone production, a requisite for a successful delivery. Your hand might become sore if a plastic catheter is inserted in it for long hours. This in turn, affects the labour.

In addition to these, retained fluid can also lead to weight loss in the child after delivery.

Are There Alternatives to IV fluids During Labour?

There’s one alternative to an IV fluid. A heparin or saline lock can be attached to your IV catheter.

This small device has a portal so that your doctors can plug tubing in at any time. It would keep the blood in the catheter from clotting. In this way, you can get fluids or medications whenever you need them, without having to be tethered to an IV pole.

Expecting women who can stay orally hydrated and do not have an epidural, an IV fluid may not be necessary. But If she is unable to stay hydrated due to excessive nausea or vomiting, an IV fluid is necessary.

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