ACOG: Birthing Pool Delivery Not Safe

Immersion may help during early labor, but poses risks during delivery, ob-gyns advise
Immersion may help during early labor, but poses risks during delivery, ob-gyns advise

HealthDay News — While a birthing pool during the early stages of labor may offer some advantages, women should not deliver their infant in the water, according to a Committee Opinion published in the November issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' (ACOG) Committee on Obstetric Practice, delivering a baby in the water may lead to serious health problems. They include: increased risk of mother and infant infections; difficulty in the regulation of the baby's body temperature; increased chance of umbilical cord damage; respiratory distress resulting from the baby inhaling tub water; and potential for asphyxia and seizures. 

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Hospitals and birthing centers that offer water immersion for women in the first stage of labor need to follow certain guidelines to protect the health and safety of the mother and infant, ACOG said. Those measures include: rigorous processes for candidate selection; maintaining and cleaning tubs and immersion pools; following infection control procedures; monitoring pregnant women at appropriate intervals while immersed; and moving women out of the tubs if there are any concerns about the mother or baby.

"Immersion in water during the first stage of labor may offer some benefits: It may shorten labor and is associated with a decreased use of epidurals," committee chairman Joseph Wax, MD, said in an ACOG news release. "However, it is important to differentiate between laboring in water and delivering in water. There is no evidence to support delivering a baby in water has benefits to the baby."

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