Pregnant moms, moms who wish to give birth naturally, at home, using a midwife or Doula and without the aid of medicine should beware of water births. A recent study reveals the practice of giving birth in a birthing pool has no benefits and in fact may be harmful.
The American Academy of Pediatrics now believes this practice should be limited only to participants in medical studies. The first recorded practice is said to date back to the 1800 Egyptian’s and has only recently become a Western practice as early as the 1970’s, when doctors in Russia and France were researching ways to improve the birth process for the unborn child from utero to birth. One of the theories behind water birth is that warm pool water is similar to the environment of uterus life and will aid in the transition to life post utero. Now the APA believes water births can be harmful to both pregnant mom and child and warms moms to beware.
Advocates for water births do support the claim that the warm water aids in the comfort of the mom lessening the intensity of labor pains and reducing the stress. However the discrepancy is whether the water birth is beneficial during the whole birthing stage. A recent study revealed the warm provides comfort for the mom during the first stage only and is responsible for reducing the need for pain medications during labor. However, the same research suggests water did not reduce the trauma in the second stage of labor or reduce the number of necessary Cesarean deliveries.
In addition to the lack of benefits during second stage labor, the same report showed increase infections for the newborns as the water prohibits the baby from regulating its own body temperature. Reports also indicate increase of infections from dirty water, hemorrhaging, shock and very rarely newborn drowning.
The United Kingdom and United States have differing views on the benefits of water birth. The UK believes the US relies too heavily on medicinal births and the US believes there is not enough research in the pros and cons of water birth to warrant it as a regular birthing method. In one limited research study involving pregnant moms, 12 percent of the babies born via water births were admitted to special care units where in the same study no babies born out of water were admitted to special care units.
Water births in the US are not common, where only a reported 100 water births a year, compared to 7,000 a year in the UK. However the APA still want to warn of the potential risks of water birth to both mom and unborn child. By all accounts there are only a few clinical trials into the pros and cons of water birth and doctors for and against it admit there is not enough evidence to support either claim.
The website for American pregnancy in support of water births boasts more pros for the mother such as; soothes and relaxes; helps with blood pressure, aids in contraction, increases energy, and more privacy and only two benefits for unborn baby; similar to environment in utero and increasing the newborns sense of security. The website also lists seven instances when water birth is not right for the mom including if the baby is pre-term and if the baby is breached. Pregnant moms should consult their healthcare provider to make the right birthing decision for them and beware of the risks of water births.
By Debra Pittman
Counsel & Heal