Is an IV Necessary During Labor?
For most low risk women, it is not necessary to have an IV to have a baby. However, there are some circumstances in which having either an IV or a saline lock may be recommended during labor. Ask your care provider whether you are required to have an IV during labor even for low risk births, or whether you can opt for more natural methods.
Do you require an IV during labor? Saline Lock?
In the absence of risk factors, it is not necessary to have an IV to birth a baby. However, in the hospital setting where nurses put IV’s in everyone upon admission without urgency, if an IV is necessary in an emergent situation where the nurses are not skilled in inserting an IV quickly and easily, a saline lock (an IV access line established but not hooked up to a tube and fluid) is helpful. One of the benefits of having a saline lock even if you do not need IV fluids is that if there is fetal distress, the first things that are done for intrauterine resuscitation is to give the mother quickly a bolus of IV fluids, apply oxygen, and turn the mother on her left side. If a saline lock is in place, the ability to provide IV fluids is immediate. If there is no saline lock, it will take some time to insert an IV and prolong the time the mother does not receive this IV bolus. However, the low risk of fetal distress with a low risk birth, the risks of infection, restriction of total free and unimpaired movement of the arms/hands, and discomfort of having an intravenous line that might interfere with having a physiological birth must also be considered into the risk/benefit ratio decision of whether to insert a saline lock.