Water birth poses birth injury risks, according to experts

Friday April 4, 2014

A safe delivery for mother and baby is usually the main concern of expectant New Haven, Connecticut, parents. So selecting the delivery method is not always easy. Doctors and other medical professionals can provide sound advice, but like any other medical procedure, any method used to deliver a baby comes with costs and risks.

Water labor and water birthing are increasingly more common in hospitals across the United States. However, according to a release by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, water labor may increase risk to a newborn, even though laboring in a tub of warm water may help the mother.

According to experts, enough evidence is not available to support the benefits of delivering a baby using a water birthing method. There are cases where babies have drowned in both hospital and home water births. These cases may be few and isolated but doctors say the deaths are relevant enough to withhold endorsing water birth as a safe method, according to ACOG and AAP. Other negative effects of water birthing are difficulty breathing for a baby who inhales water, difficulty regulating the baby’s temperature and developing an infection because of dirty water.

Pregnant women should be educated about the risks of water birth. Both organizations recommend water births to low-risk patients. They also recommend that tubs be kept clean and medical professionals must be able to remove the pregnant woman from the tub in case of complications.

Pregnancy and childbirth come with some level of risk. Unfortunately, medical mistakes increase the risk of harm to a mother and her newborn baby. Birth injury, no matter how it is sustained, can have significant, long-term consequences with significant financial burden.

Medical professionals and health care providers are expected to provide a high standard of care for their patients. If birth injury occurs due to practitioner negligence or malpractice, the baby’s family may file a personal injury lawsuit and seek compensation.

Source: KSL.com, “Safety of water births unproven, doctors say,” Tracie Snowder, March 25, 2014

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