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Water-Based Births as Safe as Traditional Births

Hospital-based water births had no higher risk for neonatal intensive care unit admission

birthing pool

TUESDAY, Oct. 20, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Hospital-based water births are as safe as traditional births, according to a study published in the October issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Abbey C. Sidebottom, Ph.D., M.P.H., from Allina Health in Minneapolis, and colleagues retrospectively reviewed electronic health record data (2014 to 2018) from two health systems (eight hospitals) to compare neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) or special care nursery admission for deliveries with water immersion versus matched deliveries without water immersion.

The researchers found that of the 583 women with water immersion, 34.1 percent experienced first-stage water immersion only, 65.9 percent experienced second-stage immersion, and 53.9 percent completed delivery in the water. Compared with control births, NICU or special care nursery admissions were lower for second-stage water immersion deliveries (odds ratio, 0.3), as were lacerations (odds ratio, 0.5). There were no differences seen for NICU or special care nursery admissions and lacerations between the first-stage immersion group and their matched comparisons. In second-stage water immersion births, cord avulsions occurred in 0.8 percent of women versus none in the control groups. There were no significant differences noted in the five-minute Apgar score (less than 7), maternal infections, or other adverse outcomes between either the first- or second-stage water immersion groups and controls.

"This study confirms that waterbirths, conducted in alignment with a strong clinical protocol, are at least as safe as traditional birthing methods," a coauthor said in a statement.

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