Gastric emptying is not delayed during pregnancy but becomes delayed during labour, particularly if opioids are administered. When labour is conducted with epidural or no analgesia, gastric emptying is only slightly reduced. The use of epidural opioids as a bolus appear to reduce gastric emptying compared with patients with no epidural opioids, but the effect of low dose opioid infusions is less clear. Provided that opioids have not been used during labour, gastric emptying returns to normal within 24-48 H post delivery.
There are substantial pressure and volume changes in the epidural and subarachnoid spaces which have important effects upon the spread of solutions within these compartments (Figure PN.10).
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