Women should eat during labour to make the birth quicker and shorten their recovery time, scientists claim.
Expectant mothers are often told they can have nothing other than ice chips after they enter the first stage of labour.
Until now, doctors have feared mid-push food could cause the woman to choke, or would affect the anaesthetic if they needed an emergency C-section.
But a new analysis shows they can have much more than some frozen droplets, and it won't cause them any problems.
In fact, keeping hydrated and having carbohydrates helps muscles to work better – especially the uterus – giving an energy boost, and allowing for a shorter stint in hospital.
Researchers from the Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia analysed 10 trials that included 3,982 women in labour.
All participants were only delivering one child – not twins or triplets – and were not at risk of a Caesarean section.
Those who were allowed to eat and drink more than ice chips and water had labours that were shorter by 16 minutes on average.
And they were not at an increased risk of choking or vomiting under general anaesthetic - a concern raised in a study from the 1940s, according to the study published in Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Study author Dr Vincenzo Berghella said: “We really don’t know how much if anything people can eat or drink in labour.”
But he added that “if we’re well hydrated and have adequate carbohydrate in our body, our muscles work better”.
Currently, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recommend women are only given clear liquids during labour.
Its guidelines prohibit any solid food while in labour to reduce the risk of aspiration - when someone inhales food into the lungs instead of ingesting it.
Patients at specific risk of conditions such as obesity and diabetes are advised to be looked at on a case-by-case basis.
These findings come after researchers in 2015 also found that healthy expectant mothers may benefit from a light meal during labour.