Water births no more risky than traditional methods, study finds

Water births have been long dismissed by some medical experts as unsafe, but a new study has found they are no more risky than traditional birthing methods.

The US study focused specifically on water births and involved more than 17,000 women who delivered their babies at home or in a private birth centre between 2004 and 2009, usually with the help of a certified midwife.

Researchers found the mums in the sample who chose a water birth (about 6,500) were no more likely to need hospital care for themselves or their newborns than those who chose non-water birthing procedures, but there was 11 per cent higher chance of vaginal tearing during the water birth.

The full results were published this year in the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health.

Lead author Marit Bovbjerg is an epidemiology (study of infectious disease epidemics) instructor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University.

“The findings suggest that water birth is a reasonably safe, low-intervention option for women who face a low risk of complications during the birthing process,” she says.

“These are decisions that should be made in concert with a medical professional.”

The findings challenge those of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which describes water birth as “an experimental procedure” and says the pain-relieving benefits of a water birth do not outweigh the risks.

But study co-author Melissa Cheyney, a medical anthropologist and associate professor at Oregon State, says the findings suggest that water birth is a reasonably safe option for low-risk women when compared to the risks of having pharmacologic pain management such as an epidural.

How your baby enters the world is as unique as they will be, just take a look at these incredible photos from a Melbourne birth photographer.

(via Oregon Live)

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