Assumption: Women in labor should not eat or drink.
These protocols were put in place when women would have to be put under general anesthesia regularly when complications arose (1940s). Now that there have been such advances in anesthesia, there are no proven benefits to withholding food and drinks during a normal, low-risk labor, and studies have shown that it can actually prolong labor.
This 2013 review of studies that include over 3,000 women concludes, “Since the evidence shows no benefits or harms, there is no justification for the restriction of fluids and food in labour for women at low risk of complications.”
It just makes sense that if a woman needs strength for the marathon that labor can be, she should be allowed to consume food and drink. Hydration is also important and ice chips are not quite the same as a real drink of water!! As far as I know, out-of-hospital births routinely involve keeping moms well fed and well hydrated, but in-hospital births usually require an IV for hydration.