Thinking About Having a Water Birth? Please Think Again.

The next time you see one of those You Tube® videos singing the praises about water births, Amy Stenton wants you to think again.. She had one and now wants them stopped. She sued The Legacy Healthcare system for 35 million dollars as a result of the injuries incurred by her son who now has significant disabilities including cerebral palsy and hearing problems. He will need life-long care. We often hear about patients suing for damages but when patients demand that the hospital program be shut down because it’s dangerous, it gives us reason to pause.

Stenton and her spouse, Matthew Marino, read the hospital’s website and assumed water births were safe. Allegedly the website read:  “European studies have shown a lower use of pain medication, decreased need for medicines to stimulate labor, decreased perception of pain, and high patient satisfaction, among other benefits, ­during labor and delivery in a birth tub.”  What the website omitted was the expert opinion of both The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologist (ACOG) and the American Academy of Pediatricians who do not think water births are safe.

If you are considering water births, here are the facts:

  • Laboring in water is okay. Delivering in water is not. The safety of having a baby in water has not been established
  • The baby’s umbilical cord could snap off or rupture
  • The baby could drown
  • Potential infections from the tubs
  • Patients need to be low-risk before entering the tub during early labor
  • Difficulty in checking the baby’s temperature
  • Breathing problems for the baby

Unfortunately there were no physicians available during Stenton’s birth which aggravated the situation.

Based on a survey in 2005, there are approximately 143 birth centers in the U.S. that allows water births however, as a result of Stenton’s lawsuit, those numbers might change.

Is Underwater Childbirth Safe? Some Doctors Say No.

Compliments of Health Day News

Compliments of Health Day News

Most women look forward to having a baby but no one wants to feel pain. In recent years, having a baby in a pool of water has become a popular trend because it allegedly reduces the need for pain meds and anesthesia however not so fast, says both obstetricians and pediatricians. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have issued a formal opinion (Committee Opinion #594 April 2014) that does not support “immersion” (aka underwater) births because of its associated complications while a mother is pushing to deliver her baby. The “pushing” part of childbirth is also known as “second stage labor.”
Why is this important? Because there are presently 143 birthing centers in the U.S. that offer underwater births to pregnant women. In fact, 1% of all births in the United Kingdom are immersion. While some research claims that these births are safe, experts think otherwise and state that the number of women studied was too small to detect rare but potentially harmful outcomes.
While some women may experience a feeling of well being and control, decreased stress and less vaginal tears during an immersion birth, according to the Committee Opinion, there is no scientific evidence that an underwater or immersion birth helps the baby. In fact, there is evidence of increased complications such as
• increased infections to both the mother and newborn, especially after the membranes are ruptured (aka “water broke”)
• difficulty in regulated the newborn’s temperature
• increased risk of the umbilical cord tearing from the placenta
• infant drowning and near drowning
• infant seizures and suffocation
• severe infant breathing problems
Should women give up immersion births completely? Probably not. The experts think that a woman may stay in these tubs during labor but should NOT push or deliver the baby underwater. They also recommend stricter protocols, patient selection and infection control.
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New Guidelines say Give First-Time Pregnant Women More Time in Labor

Courtesy of Virginiawomen'sbirthcenter.com

Courtesy of Virginiawomen’sbirthcenter.com

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and The Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine (aka high-risk obstetricians) have issued a new recommendation that is a game-changer in the manner that obstetrics is practiced: allow low-risk first-time pregnant moms more time in labor. This is assuming that the fetal tracing is normal and the mother does not have a fever, high blood pressure or a condition that could compromise her life or the life of her unborn baby. This recommendation is based on new evidence that demonstrates contradicts the old school Friedman Curve theory that active labor begins at 4 centimeters. It actually begins at 6 centimeters. This would be especially helpful to first-time teenage moms who might be forced to have future cesarean sections based on hospital rules and physician opinions if their first delivery was a cesarean section. The “once a C-section, always a C-Section” culture hits this particular group the hardest.
According to the new recommendations:
• Women should be allowed to push for at least two hours if they’ve given birth before, three hours if they are first-time mothers, and even longer in certain cases, such as when an epidural is used for pain relief.
• Vaginal delivery is the preferred option whenever possible and doctors should use techniques — forceps, for example — to assist with natural birth.
• Women should be advised to avoid excessive weight gain during pregnancy.
A word of caution should be offered about these recommendations: forceps deliveries are becoming a lost art and can cause more damage than good in the hands of an inexperienced provider and the “avoid excessive weight gain during pregnancy” is easier said than done for most women.
That being said, these new recommendations gives first-time pregnant women the right to step on the proverbial brakes, the next time someone wants to rush their delivery via a C-section.
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