Mother and Baby

US Doctors Claim Water Births Are Unsafe – Would You Still Have One?

Section: Labour & Birth

New reseach claims giving birth in water could be dangerous as it increases the risk of infections and breathing problems in your baby

Easing yourself into a warm bath or birthing pool can be extremely helpful in easing contraction pains and calming mums-to-be during labour.

But new guidelines released by the American Academy of Paediatrics and American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have said that underwater delivery should be limited as it could lead to ‘rare but serious’ problems in newborns, including potentially lethal infections and problems with breathing.

The researchers did point out that the risks occurred if you stayed in the pool during the second stage of labour – where you start pushing and deliver the baby – and that labouring in water during the early stages could still be very beneficial.

It is estimated that at least one in 100 women use a birthing pool at some point during labour – around 7,000 a year in England in Wales, and some of these women will also remain in the water to give birth.

Co-author of the study, Dr Jeffrey Ecker, said that although he has cared for many women who were comforted by the pool early in labour, that is not the same as the baby being born underwater.

However, some believe that the change in guidelines is a sign of the more cautious approach that the US takes to giving birth.

The National Childbirth Trust said the US tends to ‘medicalise’ birth more than the UK. Elizabeth Duff, a senior policy advisor at the charity, said, ‘I know a lot of midwives who look after water births and say they are fantastic.’

What have been your experiences of using a birthing pool during labour? Let us know in the comment box below.

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