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    Labor in water may be safe, but not water delivery, according to ACOG


    The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics have issued a joint statement on water births, the first for the increasingly popular practice.

    Proposed benefits for immersion during labor and delivery include a decrease in perinatal pain on account of increased venous return, a heightened sense of well-being and control, and a decreased level of perineal trauma. A 2009 Cochrane Review of 12 different trials showed a significant reduction in the use of epidural, spinal, paracervical analgesia, and anaesthesia rates among women who underwent water immersion when compared to controls (478/1254 vs 529/1245; risk ratio (RR) 0.90; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.82 to 0.99, 6 trials).

    Women who underwent water immersion also spent less time in the first state of labor (mean difference -32.4 minutes; 95% CI -58.7 to -6.13). However, no difference was found in assisted vaginal deliveries (RR 0.86; 95% CI 0.71 to 1.05, 7 trials), caesarean deliveries (RR 1.21; 95% CI 0.87 to 1.68, 8 trials), use of oxytocin infusion (RR 0.64; 95% CI 0.32 to 1.28, 5 trials), perineal trauma, or maternal infection. None of the studies in the review reported any benefit to the neonate.

    NEXT: Potential complications >>


    Miranda Hester
    Ms. Hester is Content Specialist with Contemporary OB/GYN and Contemporary Pediatrics.


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