Study Finds Waterbirth Just As Safe For Mom, Baby As Traditional Methods

WWJ News
December 10, 2019 - 8:17 am
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(WWJ) - Is giving birth in the water as safe as on land? 

A University of Michigan study analyzed hospital births on land and in the water and found that both are safe for mom and baby.

Researchers analyzed 397 waterbirths and 2025 traditional childbirths from two midwifery practices. The study found no differences in outcomes between waterbirth and land birth for neonatal intensive care admissions, and postpartum hemorrhage rates were similar for both groups. 

"Basically there was no difference between waterbirth and land birth, with the exception of a slight decrease in postpartum hemorrhage rates for births that occurred in the water and also fewer lacerations or tears that would require a repair," said Joanne Motiño Bailey, a researcher and director of U-M's nurse midwife program.

Researchers say more facilities should offer waterbirth and have guidelines for implementing the procedure. 

In waterbirth, the woman gives birth in a water-filled tub rather than a bed. Few U.S. hospitals or birth centers offer tub births because of perceived risk to the newborn, mainly suggested by case studies of neonatal infections or cord tearing. Professional organizations tend to agree that women in labor should have access to water for comfort, but not all support birth in the water. This means hospitals must make women leave the tub before the birth. 
 
During a water birth, babies take their first breath when removed from the tub. Until then, their lungs are filled with water, which is displaced when they hit the air and breathe. The connected umbilical cord provides oxygen.

Researchers say more studies are needed to understand the satisfaction level of women who have water births.