Waterbirth dangers to newly born babies

Waterbirth has become a central component of “natural” childbirth dogma, despite the fact that for primates giving birth underwater is entirely unnatural. You don’t need a medical degree to appreciate the idiocy of birth in water. The most critical task for the newborn is to take its first breath.

Inhaling a mouthful of fecally contaminated water instead of air is profoundly dangerous. Not surprisingly, as the popularity of waterbirth has grown, the number of neonatal deaths directly attributable to it has grown as well.

A new paper in the American Journal of Forensic Medical Pathology discusses the tragic case of a term newborn who died of Pseudomonas pneumonia and sepsis as a result of waterbirth. The authors review the existing literature on fatalities associated with waterbirth and the underlying processes leading to neonatal death.

The case report:

A normally formed 42-week gestation male infant was born underwater in a birthing tank to a 29-year-old primigravida mother. The Apgar scores were 9 and 10 at 1 and 5 minutes, respectively. The infant was covered with thick meconium and demonstrated intercostal recession with peripheral cyanosis. He was transferred to hospital where his respiratory status worsened and a chest x-ray demonstrated generalized opacity. Presumed sepsis was treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics. There was no evidence of hyponatremia. Despite maximal therapy he developed respiratory failure with disseminated intravascular coagulation and died at 4 days of age.

… Death was due to extensive P. aeruginosa pneumonia and sepsis associated with meconium aspiration and water birth.

The authors reviewed the literature:

Underwater birth has been promoted as a means of improving the quality of delivery… While the benefits of immersion are said to include increased comfort and relaxation for mother and infant, with greater maternal autonomy, fewer injuries to the birth canal, reduced need for analgesia, with decreased instrumentation and operative intervention, this has been disputed with no clear advantages or disadvantages over conventional births being demonstrated. In addition, other reports of underwater births have documented significant morbidity and even death. Problems have included infections, near drowning/drowning, hyponatremia/water intoxication, seizures, infections, respiratory distress, fevers, hypoxic brain damage, and cord rupture with hemorrhage.

Natural childbirth advocates have a terrible habit of inventing scientific “facts” and waterbirth is a classic example. According to NCB advocates, newborns will not attempt to breathe while immersed in warm water and will wait to take a first breath until they are in direct contact with air. That theory has no basis in neonatal physiology.

It has been postulated that newborns will not breath or swallow while immersed in warm water, and that respiration will only be initiated on exposure to cold air. This has been used to support assertions that drowning and aspiration of water cannot occur with underwater delivery. However, animal studies have demonstrated that this reflex can be over-ridden, and given that respiratory movements occur in utero, it is difficult to see why this process would not continue in a neonate delivered into water. The documentation of cases of near drowning and respiratory distress with apparent aspiration of fluid would also be supportive of the occurrence of breathing under water. In addition, the finding of hyponatremia in certain of these infants would be in keeping with inhalation of fresh water, as lowered sodium levels have resulted from fresh water drowning.

It is ironic that NCB advocates, the self appointed guardians of “physiologic birth” would embrace a practice that is profoundly non-physiologic. Not surprisingly, the consequences can be devastating. Neonates can and do inhale copious amounts of fecally contaminated water during waterbirth. Indeed, they have been found to inhale such large quantities of water that the water dilutes the concentration of sodium in the bloodstream to fatally low levels (hyponatremia). Even small amounts of inhaled water can introduce significant amounts of bacteria into the neonatal lungs leading to pneumonia and other infections as the authors explain:

Sepsis has also arisen from underwater deliveries, ranging from umbilical and ear infections to septicemia and pneumonia. The source of such infections has been contamination of birthing tubs, hoses, and taps with virulent organisms such as P. aeruginosa and Klebsiella pneumoniae. These bacteria have been found despite careful cleaning of systems between deliveries. Lethal Legionella infection has occurred in an underwater birth reported from Japan and other organisms such as amoeba and Mycobacterium avium have been found in spa baths…

The bottom line is that waterbirth kills babies.

As the death of a newborn from entirely preventable factors is of great concern, parents who elect to have an underwater delivery must be appraised of the risks that characterize an aquatic birth, and should have access to resuscitation equipment to enable rapid suctioning of the airway.

The avoidable tragedies of waterbirth cast a harsh light on the fundamental weakness of “natural” childbirth philosophy. “Natural” childbirth advocates pick and choose desired elements of “natural” birth without regard to whether those elements are truly natural. Despite the claims of NCB advocates that their philosophy is “evidence based,” they routinely ignore scientific evidence and make recommendations without ever performing safety testing on those recommendations. Moreover, they are not above fabricating scientific “facts” to bolster claims that have no scientific support.

Finally, and most egregiously, babies die as a result of their “advice” and they don’t know and apparently don’t care.

Amy Tuteur is an obstetrician-gynecologist who blogs at The Skeptical OB.

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  • Susan

    Why do women, who are obviously bright and informed continue to make a poor decision regarding water births? The Ricki Lake effect? (I’m being serious.)

  • http://nostrums.blogspot.com Doc D

    I’m often puzzled by the same question Susan asks. Interestingly, it’s the otherwise intelligent and educated people that are swayed by touch therapy, magnetism, pyramid power, and all the rest of the wacky beliefs.

  • http://naddy.blogspot.com Natalie

    Excellent question, Susan. Maybe because it isn’t quite as poor a decision as Dr. Amy thinks it is.

    “A large-scale study of waterbirth in the UK (1994-1996) showed a decrease in perinatal mortality (1.2 per 1,000 for waterbirth vs. 4 per 1,000 for conventional birth during the same period) (Harper 2000; Gilbert 1999; London: Office for National Statistics 2005). While of the 150,000 recorded waterbirths worldwide between 1985 and 1999 problems comparable to non-water births did arise, “there are no valid reports of infants deaths due to water aspiration or inhalation”[10].” ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_birth )

    • BladeDoc

      Really. The article quotes the Journal of Forensic pathology and you quote wikipedia? No.

      • http://naddy.blogspot.com Natalie

        I wasn’t quoting Wikipedia as an expert source, or your objection might be valid. I was quoting Wikipedia’s citings of other sources… which I did think were valid. Do you object to the sources that the Wikipedia article quotes?

        Perhaps this one will be more acceptable…
        “Evidence suggests that water immersion during the first stage of labour reduces the use of epidural/spinal analgesia. There is limited information for other outcomes related to water use during the first and second stages of labour, due to intervention and outcome variability. There is no evidence of increased adverse effects to the fetus/neonate or woman from labouring in water or waterbirth. The fact that use of water immersion in labour and birth is now a widely available care option for women threatens the feasibility of a large, multicentre randomised controlled trial.”
        ( http://www.mrw.interscience.wiley.com/cochrane/clsysrev/articles/CD000111/frame.html )

        Oops, gotta go. My home born 1 year old is waking up and I don’t want her to wake up her 2 year old home born brother… :)

    • http://www.skepticalob.com Amy Tuteur, MD

      Natlaie,

      You must read a paper before you cite it. The conclusions of the authors are not justified by the data they presented.

      Perinatal mortality and morbidity among babies delivered in water: surveillance study and postal survey was published in the BMJ in 1999. It is an attempt to study the outcomes of 4,030 deliveries in England and Wales. The study suffers from the serious flaw that it does not have a control group with similar characteristics. The authors compare the mortality and morbidity to women delivering a baby from the vertex presentation. This could contain (and likely does contain) many women who are much higher risk than the women in the waterbirth group.

      Out of 4,030 deliveries in water, 35 babies suffered serious problems and 3 subsequently died. It is unclear if any of the deaths can be attributed to delivery in water. However, of the 32 survivors who were admitted to the NICU, 13 had significant respiratory problems including pneumonia, meconium aspiration, water aspiration, and drowning. Other complications attributable to water birth include 5 babies who had significant hemorrhage due to snapped umbilical cord. In all, 18 babies had serious complications directly attributable to waterbirth. The risk of serious complications necessitating prolonged NICU admissions was 4.5/1000.

      The authors concluded that morbidity and mortality was similar to rates in other studies, but they fail to control for risk, so their conclusion is invalid. Far from showing that waterbirth is safe, this study shows that it is dangerous.

  • http://drpullen.com Edward

    Good to hear someone speak out about this. I turned down a couple of patients who insisted on water births back when I was doing OB, because it just seemed frightening and wierd to me. Nice to see I’m not alone.

  • http://www.drjshousecalls.blogspot.com Dr. Mary Johnson

    Excellent article. And spot-on.

    Now, if we could just get the Andrew Wakefields of this world off the radar . . .

  • dgh

    Yeah there is no way waterbirth is “natural.” Maybe a squatting position rather than the “laid back/stirrups” but waterbirth, no way, we aren’t dolphins, heck even dolphins developed from land based animals and had to learn to do water births.

  • skeptikus

    Your posting derides waterbirthing based upon an American Journal of Forensic Medical Pathology article based upon ANECDOTE. You then deride a carefully done observational study because, well, because it was a retrospective, observational study–not a controlled study.

    When I took epidemiology, observational studies beat anecdote any day.

    As an occassional reader of your work, Ms Tuteur, it shocks me how your standards of evidence shift. Whenever there’s a study (or anecdote) that supports your anti-midwife animus, you trump the results to high heaven. But, any pro-midwife study is immediately dismissed if not double blind, perfectly sampled and controlled, e.g., “You must read a paper before you cite it. ”

    You must make clear your standard of acceptable evidence and apply them evenhandedly.

  • http://birthingbeautifulideas.com Kristen

    To clarify, is it *waterbirths* that kill babies, or births in *contaminated tubs* that kill babies? From what you describe here, it seems that it is the latter. What’s more, to claim the former seems to draw upon a type of sensationalism that benefits no one–both those who are opposed and those who are in favor of waterbirth.

    For what it’s worth, I was recently at an in-hospital birth (as a doula) where the mother was not allowed to deliver in the tub because there had been some (light) meconium in her amniotic fluid when her membranes ruptured (spontaneously). Wouldn’t better procotols such as these help to prevent at least some of the deaths or injuries that you describe?

    • http://www.skepticalob.com Amy Tuteur, MD

      “births in *contaminated tubs* that kill babies?”

      All tubs in which babies are born are fecally contaminated.

      In Water birth and the risk of infection; Experience after 1500 water births, Thoeni et al. analyzed the water found in waterbirth pools. The water in a birth pool, conveniently heated to body temperature, the optimum temperature for bacterial growth, is a microbial paradise. Almost all water samples were heavily (as opposed to slightly) contaminated with various infectious bacteria:

      “In the samples taken after the birth there was a high rate of contamination with coliforms (82%) and Escherichia coli (64%) with concentrations of up to 105cfu/100 ml; Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylocooccus aureus, and yeasts were found less frequently.”

  • http://www.drjshousecalls.blogspot.com Dr. Mary Johnson

    Perhaps this is not “even-handed”, and maybe it’s even anecdotal, but has anyone on this thread ever seen a baby DIE from meconium aspiration?

    It ain’t pretty.

  • skepticus

    I note that Amy Tuteur did not deign to respond to my pointing out of her inconsistent standard and lack of logic when applying evidentiary standards to pro and anti-midwife studies.

    Ah, now Ms. Johnson pulls out that favorite trick in the physician rhetorical arsenal–fear. Yes, I imagine seeing a baby die from menonium aspiration is horrible; But babies who do not have water births also face that risk. One anecdote of mecomium aspiration from water birthing does not show that water births present higher risks.

  • http://www.drjshousecalls.blogspot.com Dr. Mary Johnson

    Ah, yes I note that “Mr/Ms.” skepticus has to “imagine” what we’re talking about here (dead newborns – in the case of water-births, due to the stupidity of adults) . . . and is not above his/her own “tricks” (it’s Dr., not “Ms.”).

    As a Pediatrician, I’ve seen more than “one” infant succumb to meconium aspiration or pneumonia/sepsis or drowning. I’ve also done my part to be the stopper-in-the-drain in such cases . . . once to the point of being fired twelve years ago for intervening in a BAD meconium case that was mis-diagnosed by someone else – and then reporting it to peer review. And before you sneer at the anecdote, skepticus, know that the girl is now a healthy twelve year-old-now – as opposed to being dead or brain-damaged.

    Applying your own logic, when you think about it, what any doctor sees and deals with on a day-to-day basis is a kind of “observational study”.

    Since we’re talking about evidence, there’s a fair amount of research out there that shows babies who suffer from the worst cases of meconium aspiration actually “inhale” the meconium while in utero – as the result of reflexive gasping from some kind of stress – be it a nuchal cord/other cord issues or sepsis or whatever. Meconium obstructs the airway and destroys both lung tissue (literally digesting it) and surfactant – leading to hypoxia and pulmonary hypertension. It’s an ugly way to die.

    But hey, let’s add some filthy water on top of that!

    The romantic notion of water birth is that the baby, upon being born, will somehow not realize it’s been born/free of the uterus and swim to the surface of the water before taking a breath. That’s just not so. And the evidence is crystal clear that the human lung is designed to breath air, not nasty, bacteria/blood/urine/stool-laden water.

    Sometimes it’s not about research. Just common sense.

    A dose of fear in medicine is actually often a good thing. I’ve found that physicians who practice like the worst will happen (as opposed to assuming that all will be well) serve both themselves and their sickest patients much better.

    • http://naddy.blogspot.com Natalie

      “The romantic notion of water birth is that the baby, upon being born, will somehow not realize it’s been born/free of the uterus and swim to the surface of the water before taking a breath.”

      Actually, not all water birth proponents think this. Most of the ones I’ve met/read think it’s best to bring baby to the surface immediately.

      “I’ve found that physicians who practice like the worst will happen (as opposed to assuming that all will be well) serve both themselves and their sickest patients much better.”

      Yes, worst case scenario medicine does serve the worst case scenario patients well. But what about the low risk mother baby pairs? Do they benefit from a pathalogical view of birth? No, they don’t, and that is why so many women with bad hospital experiences go on to have homebirths.

      • http://www.skepticalob.com Amy Tuteur, MD

        “Do they benefit from a pathalogical view of birth? ”

        Birth is not pathological, but it is inherently dangerous. Death of the baby or mother in childbirth is a rather common experience, just like miscarriage in pregnancy is a rather common experience.

        Natural childbirth advocates don’t realize that childbirth is dangerous because modern obstetrics has made it safe. Indeed, the only countries with low levels of neonatal and maternal mortality are countries where modern obstetrics, with liberal use of interventions. is practiced.

  • skeptikus

    Dear Mary,

    1. “Sometimes it’s not about research. Just common sense.”
    2. “Applying your own logic, when you think about it, what any doctor sees and deals with on a day-to-day basis is a kind of “observational study””

    Evidence-based medicine is the story of doctors’ cherished “common sense” being shown to be totally wrong, if not dangerous. Further, doctor’s experience is ONE DATA POINT. It simply produces experience and confirmation biases. IT IS NOT SCIENCE.

    I do not doubt your integrity, Mary. No doubt you are a person who does the right thing. But righteousness does not transform mindless medical practice or prejudice into science. .

  • http://www.drjshousecalls.blogspot.com Dr. Mary Johnson

    Natalie, I am sorry, but I must agree (again) with Dr. Tuteur. You see, the same “low risk” Mothers/families that would want me to be laid back and understanding of their desires as I attended their waterbirth would be the first to SUE me into oblivion and demand that I prevent evidence for my approach if their baby died because it’s first breath was of dirty water as opposed to air. The only thing I can say to you is GET REAL.

    And skepticus, it would be easier to believe that you did not doubt my professional integrity if you addressed me as “Dr.” as opposed to “Ms.” (I can assure you, I EARNED it), and did not talk to me/others on this thread as if we were ignorant children . . .

    . . . as opposed to the people who take care of them and DO base our practice on very good evidence (in this case that humans/mammals are meant to be born to air) – while taking every sling and arrow.

    I’ll note you’re not signing your name here and I’m not sure why I’m bothering to argue with someone who does not have to courage to do that.

    I, for one, am SICK of the namby-pamby “any-thing goes anywhere” garbage that gave greedy FRAUDS like Andrew Wakefield a national stage (terrifying a lot of Mothers and no doubt leading to the deaths of innocent children who did not get vaccinated) . . . while letting people like me languish on the sidelines in a medicolegal hell all because I adhered to the canons of my Oath.

    • http://naddy.blogspot.com Natalie

      Dr. Johnson, I am sure that it is hard to practice medicine in our current sue happy environment. I don’t think that our current situation benefits mothers, babies, doctors, or midwives. However, in reply to your statement…
      “…the same “low risk” Mothers/families that would want me to be laid back and understanding of their desires as I attended their waterbirth would be the first to SUE me into oblivion…The only thing I can say to you is GET REAL.”

      All I can say is that this is a classic example of how our sue happy atmosphere hurts patients. I don’t want to be treated like a ticking time bomb of litigation, given a c-section because it reduces liability, etc… I want to be treated like a human mother giving birth to a human baby. Women die, babies die, bad outcomes happen, and sometimes they’re just unavoidable. I wouldn’t sue a care provider unless I felt that they had *intentionally* harmed me, or my baby, or had blatantly disregarded my wishes and it resulted in death.

      Lest you consider that all just talk, during my first pregnancy the only doctor I could find willing to give me a trial of labor for my breech baby required me to sign that no matter the outcome I wouldn’t sue. I knew the doctor, I knew his staff, and I knew that he was very experienced and would do the very best he could. I signed. (My baby flipped before birth and we were able to have the midwife attended home birth we had been planning all along, though!)

  • JC

    Although I’m sure Dr. Tuteur is right in this case, she doesn’t have to convey her message in such a surly way, it detracts from her presentation of facts.

  • ninguem

    Dr. Mary Johnson – There is, in fact, nothing “natural” or “physiologic” about a human infant being delivered into a tub of filthy water.

    Or any water, for that matter. When did humans become aquatic mammals?

  • http://www.drjshousecalls.blogspot.com Dr. Mary Johnson

    JC, I saw NOTHING about Dr. Tuteur’s presentation or answers on this thread (which you’ve judged to be right) that was “surly”.

    There is, in fact, nothing “natural” or “physiologic” about a human infant being delivered into a tub of filthy water.

    Once again, I think we physicans who clean up the messes are, at this point in time more inclined to simply say what we think without covering it with sugar.

    And, in fact, we should be encouraged to do so.

  • skeptikus

    One last thing is your claim:
    “Natural childbirth advocates don’t realize that childbirth is dangerous because modern obstetrics has made it safe. ”

    Ha, ha! It depends what you mean by “modern.” Consider this study, showing that hospital births INCREASED mortality in NYC until the introduction of sulfa drugs in 1937.
    http://www.nber.org/papers/w10873.pdf

    Before 1937, doctors were, in fact, killing women and babies–or so the evidence suggests.

    These facts should be instructive to you. “Modern medicine” is hardly a pure blessing. Those who resist it are not irrational. It advances when it relies upon science, not the “judgment” or “professional opinion” of doctors.

  • http://www.drjshousecalls.blogspot.com Dr. Mary Johnson

    Natalie, I would say to you that your philosphy to bad outcomes is refreshing. But the FACT is that, in our society, those of us who practice “high-risk” obstetrics and pediatrics (especially in rural podunk – and without all of the big-city support) MUST worry about those who would sue us no matter how right or evidenced-based what we did was.

    I would also say to you that a physician could blatantly disregard your wishes and still be doing the right thing and it still result in death.

    You had a happy ending in your “anecdotal” situation – but not everyone does.

    Too many people are watching Law & Order or ER or Grey’s Anatomy on TV and thinking that’s the way the real world works.

    Skepticus, it’s not 1937. And I would be THE FIRST to agree with you that in the days BP (Before PCN) there was a whole lot of arrogance and lack of common decency/sense amongst the mostly white men practicing/dominating medicine.

    Actually, I’m actually not a big fan of the some of the things that are going on in modern Obstetrics right now – especially the increase in C-Sections (it’s a professional opnion without the astericks). But much of that has been driven by forces outside of medicine – most notably lawyers and jack-pot “justice”.

    You must remember, I am from North Carolina, the land of John Edwards.

  • Guest

    “Waterbirth has become a central component of “natural” childbirth dogma, despite the fact that for primates giving birth underwater is entirely unnatural’

    Primates don’t get epidurals, either. Does that mean we should stop them as well??

  • http://www.drjshousecalls.blogspot.com Dr. Mary Johnson

    Apples and oranges. Perhaps we should stick to one evidence-based topic at a time.

    Many, many laboring women want/ask for/DEMAND epidurals for pain control. It’s a personal/individual choice that I would assume all here would agree is no less valid than going without.

    And unless you’re talking about using dirty/contaminated needles to administer the epidural, I’m not sure what your point is.

  • Alice

    quote: Mothers/families that would want me to be laid back and understanding of their desires as I attended their waterbirth would be the first to SUE me into oblivion and demand that I prevent evidence for my approach if their baby died because it’s first breath was of dirty water as opposed to air. [end]

    As a homeschooling mom of 22 years I can’t resist chiming in here, because we have fought the educational bureaucracy for so long that I fear sometimes the debate is outnumbered. After this many years I am not concerned about being part of the status quo or underdogs! I really think doctors and moms can work together to share information, and allow the mom to make her own decisions. Some valuable information has been shared here.

    What I am really thankful for is that moms are empowered and can use doctors as a source of information to help them make wise choices, and not some ultra wise one with all the answers.

    Most of my friends homebirth, and I admire them for that, but it’s not a panacea for all births. I do think we have become to reliant on doctors, and that doctors do have to clean up the few messes this movement created (yet, they clean up the messes of hospital births too. Pigeon-holed doctors often create messes from not thinking outside-the-box).

    I guess it’s safe to assume that doctors practice preventive medicine and lawsuit prevention? And the public is to blame for thinking doctors should perform in a godlike fashion or get sued, and doctors are performing a whole lot of preventive measures based on exceptions rather than the rule? Which leads to more Csections and less homebirths because they view everything from a possible lawsuit angle (and, in truth, as much as this bothers me if I were a doctor I wouldn’t be scared, I would be bloody well terrified. My gripe is with doctors who lie when there is a mistake, and the trust that goes down the tubes because money and careers are at stake which means we will suffer more procedures in an effort to salvage more lives).

    I would have had each of my six children at home if I could of, but I was a bad candidate……….which means I am grateful for the options, grateful for midwives, and even grateful for pain meds (I am all for natural methods, if possible, but not suffering needlessly). But if a woman can bear it she is better off going natural, and so is her child. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that medications come with complications, but we risk it for pain relief. There is a cost to our actions whether it be at a hospital or home.

    I think the outcry from mothers about things like homebirth and vaccinations has been heard. Hospitals have changed many procedures, and births are much better than they were, and vaccinations are safer (not that I want to imbibe).

    I guess, ultimately, it’s great that the radical moms screamed really loud and were eventually heard, and I suggest they keep screaming for change where it’s needed. Being different is costly, but there are positive changes I am grateful for.

    • bw

      Oh Alice, I was with ya all the way until the end, until you brought in vaccinations… It’s a discussion for another day, but suffice it to say that let’s not mix these two topics. One is a personal preference that affects only mother and child, and the other is a personal preference that affects every other person with whom the unvaccinated child comes in contact. Apples and bananas as they say…

  • http://www.notebookingdiscovery.org/wordpress Alice Robertson

    bw said: One is a personal preference that affects only mother and child, and the other is a personal preference that affects every other person with whom the unvaccinated child comes in contact. Apples and bananas as they say…
    [end quote]

    Alice: On one level I completely agree with you. It is “apples and bananas” as far as separate issues, but as far as the mindset of “radical” moms speaking out and bringing about some very good changes in medicine it’s on the same level. Apples and bananas are still in the fruit category, although quite different. :)

    I think vaccines are safer today, but as you shared it is a different topic. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for an article on that one!

  • Aly

    Very strange that Dr. Amy lambasts an observational study of 4030 women published in the British Medical Journal, while using the case report of one infant published in a forensic journal as her evidence. I have no idea if waterbirth is dangerous or not, but this post certainly does not present any controlled evidence. In fact, most of the piece, besides the quotes from the journal, is a predictable diatribe against the faceless, demonic “natural childbirth advocate” (read: certified nurse midwives). To outright say that these midwives/ natural childbirth advocates apparently don’t care about dead babies is ludicrous. Even OBs who would never do a waterbirth (but maybe work with fantastic nurses and midwives) should see the inanity of this comment.

    The comment from a doctor above pretty much sums up the problem with modern obstetrics (relying on anecdote rather than data) in a nutshell:

    “Sometimes it’s not about research. Just common sense.”

  • Femke

    I am pregnant of my first child and consider a water birth. Before I decide for this, I want to be more informed. Unfortunately I have found no decent research about the advantages and risks of water birth yet. To me the article above sounds biased, so I take it less serious and it doesn’t give me much information. No decent research or data about the risks of water birth compared to other births. Just an example of one water birth going wrong. To me it’s shocking to read how a medical doctor is arguing so strongly against water births and home births…based only on prejudice in stead of evidence.

    Situation in my country (Netherlands) is different anyway, birth is much less hospitalized. One third of women chooses for home birth. And even in hospitals, doctors are for example hesitant to give epidurals when asked (some refuse, because they find pain good for bonding between mother and baby :-S), or epidurals are not available at all at night and in weekends. Women here are fighting for the right to have epidurals if they ask for them….women in USA are fighting for the right to have home births or water births.

    To me…it’s just strange that a doctor would decide, against my wish, how I give birth to my child. Especially if they have no evidence that my choice is hurtful to the child. I wish doctors would do their best to give good information, based on decent research, in stead of coming only with prejudice against home/water birth (USA) or against epidurals (Netherlands). So I can make an informed decision.

  • http://www.mommyninetimes.blogspot.com Katrina

    I had waterbirths for my last three babies. They all came out completely fine and healthy. For those mothers who want a completely unmedicated birth, the warm water provides relief from contraction uncomforts and also softens the perineal tissues which helps to prevent tearing. I agree it’s not for everyone, but really, it’s not as dangerous as your article claims it to be.