I tell all of my clients, we'll sneak it & apologize later...
Would you go for a run without nourishing yourself? Would you run a triathlon without some sustenance in the middle? Would you go through your entire day without a thing to eat? If the answer to these questions is 'no'. Then why in the world would you accept the response of your provider that you cannot eat during labor? It is INTENSE work. It is HARD work. It is taxing on both your body and your mind. Have you ever accidentally skipped a meal (no? me either - I'm eating and literally already thinking about the next time I get to eat... but that's neither here nor there...) and you find yourself wondering why you're feeling a bit fuzzy or that you can't complete tasks because your mind is wandering? Not only does food give your body energy, but it is fuel for your mind, too! During labor, using your mind is arguably as important as using your body.
Because you know I love my research, here's some background...
There has been plenty of studies done on aspiration during general anesthesia, which could occur during a cesarean, and is the reason behind providers asking us not to eat or drink anything in labor. BUT, the studies were done back in the 40s before the medical equipment used today was not protective of airways.
They also have done studies that took ultrasounds of laboring persons stomachs and the result was that the contents of the stomach had very little change regardless of whether they had eaten in the last 8, 16 or 24 hours... so what's the point of restriction, hmm?
Once you decide on an epidural, the hospital policy is no eating and drinking until baby is born. That's because the epidural increases your chances of needing a cesarean... (cascade of interventions, anyone?)
"The issue of eating and drinking during labor should be reframed as one of bodily autonomy and human rights. All laboring people, whether they have an epidural or not, or have diabetes or not, have the right to choose whether they would like to eat and drink during labor." -EBB (https://evidencebasedbirth.com/evidence-eating-drinking-labor/) This link has all the good % and facts that you need to present to your provider if they're pushing back.
It's really important to me that you feel comfortable with your provider, your hospital choice and the policies of both. If you don't - LET'S WORK TOGETHER! I'm so passionate about advocating for you and your wants and needs as a laboring person.