Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Is Water Birthing Safe?

Found on the Fox News.com website
Originally published Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Supermodel Gisele Bundchen made news recently by giving birth to her son Benjamin in an unusual way: at home in her own bathtub (Unusual way? When did water birth become unusual?). It wasn't an accident or surprise delivery; instead she did it as part of a growing trend called "water birthing," considered by some women and midwives to be a healthier, more natural alternative to traditional hospital births.

Mothers who choose water birth go through labor and delivery immersed in warm water (not always. Many Moms choose to get in and out of the tub), believing that pain will be less severe and the experience more enjoyable and relaxing. Some studies have shown that mothers who choose a water birth request fewer painkillers than women who don't, and fewer drugs translate into the perception of a safer and more natural birth (definitely more natural).

If it's good enough for a celebrity supermodel, water birthing advocates suggest, then it's good enough for most women. But is it good for the baby?

The research isn't clear.

In a 2002 study published in the journal Pediatrics titled "Water birth: A near-drowning experience," researcher Sarah Nguyen questioned the safety of water births and described instances of infants inhaling water and feces following underwater deliveries. In a follow-up commentary, other researchers concluded, "At this point, we are convinced there is no evidence to support any benefit of underwater birth for the neonate, and plenty of evidence to suggest harm [including] the potential for drowning, hyponatremic seizure activity, infection, and pneumonia."

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists does not recommend water births, suggesting instead that children born in hospitals are safer — if for no other reason than professional medical help is immediately available in case of complications (does a water birth have to be at home? There are several hospitals in my area that have birth tubs in the room. If hospitals are incorporating them in their birthing suites how dangerous is it? You know hospitals would NEVER offer anything they think is dangerous). Unless your bathtub happens to be located near a neonatal unit, emergency medical help may not be available during the baby's first minutes of life.

Of course, there is some risk to both the child and the mother during any birth, whether it occurs in a bathtub or a hospital. All births are natural, yet some births are safer than others.

Found on the Natural Child.org website

"Why doesn't the baby drown?"

To me this was the obvious concern; after all, anybody who doesn't consciously hold his or her breath underwater is in fear of drowning. The answer is so logical and so simple. A baby doesn't drown during a water birth because the baby is already in water in the womb. It takes air for breath and when a baby comes from water into water without the introduction of air, the lungs remain collapsed and no water can enter. Once the baby is brought to the surface and its face hits the air, breath is drawn and life on earth begins. Knowing these facts, it is clear that water birth is a safe way for a baby to be born.

Resources found on the Waterbirth International Website

1. Waterbirth Recommendations - RCOG and RCM Joint Waterbirth Recommendations -
2. Guidelines for safe Water use
3. Safety Recommendations for Pool Use

You will also fund several articles and Reviews on the Water Birth International website. Click Here to visit them.

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