Evidence on the Safety of Water Birth

Have you had a waterbirth? Interested in a waterbirth? Have someone you’d like to give information on waterbirth? Love waterbirth and waterbirth stories?

This article is for you! Check it out over at: http://evidencebasedbirth.com/waterbirth/

Here’s a little sample of some of the information the article covers:
What are the pros and cons of waterbirth?

Despite ACOG/AAP’s statement that waterbirth carries no benefits, research evidence actually shows there are some potential benefits associated with waterbirth.

Pros of waterbirth

  • Lower rates of episiotomy
  • Higher rates of intact perineum
  • Possibly lower rates of 3rd or 4th degree tears
  • Possibly lower rates of postpartum hemorrhage
  • Less medication use for pain relief—this may be important for women who want or need to avoid epidurals or narcotic medications during labor
  • Possibly fewer NICU admissions after waterbirth (it is not known whether the lower NICU admission rates are due to waterbirth itself or because women are asked to leave the tub for the birth at the slightest hint of problems with the fetal heart rate)

Cons of waterbirth

  • There is a higher rate of 1st and 2nd degree perineal tears in waterbirth, but that is because women in the water may have natural tears instead of episiotomies
  • We need more research evidence on waterbirth (in particular, research studies with appropriate comparison groups). So this makes it more difficult to make a truly informed choice.
  • Umbilical cord snap is a rare but possible occurrence. Care providers need to take care not to place too much traction on the cord when guiding the infant out of the water.
  • There have been several case reports of water aspiration, but these cases have not been observed in any prospective research study since 1999, and almost all of the infants in the case reports made a complete recovery.
  • Although large research studies have not shown any increase in the risk of infection, there have been several case reports of infections after waterbirths. This risk can be lowered by regularly culturing the hospital water supply, hoses, and tubs, and by installing filters when necessary.