Water birth is as safe as land birth for the mother and baby, says research

Water birth: Experts have argued the safety of having a water birth because of perceived risk to the newborn but a new study has found that it is no more risky than a land birth.




Some women including celebrities like Kalki Koechlin, whose first child is due in January, are opting for water birth now.

Experts have argued the safety of having a water birth because of perceived risk to the newborn but a new study has found that it is no more risky than a land birth.

Water birth involves putting the labouring mother in a birth pool with lukewarm water, in which at least a part of the labour or delivery or both take place. When the contractions starts, the warm water soothes and calms the labouring mother.

According to researchers at the University of Michigan, of the 397 water births and 2025 land births analysed, there was no difference in outcomes between the two procedures for neonatal intensive care admission while postpartum haemorrhage rates were similar in both cases.

“The long and short of it is that if you use proper techniques…the outcomes are very good,” said Lisa Kane Low, professor of nursing and senior author.

Ruth Zielinski, study co-author and clinical associate professor of nursing, suggested that more facilities should offer water birth and have guidelines for implementing it.

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During a water birth, babies take their first breath when removed from the tub, said the study. Until then, their lungs are filled with water, which gets displaced when they hit the air and breathe. The connected umbilical cord provided oxygen.

Zielinski also pointed out that babies should not be re-submerged. The mother and the baby need to exit the tub with help and warm blankets, typically prior to delivering the placenta so that the blood loss can be more accurately calculated.

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