Caregivers mixed on the safety of water births

By: Megan Lowry Email
By: Megan Lowry Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis (WEAU)-- New research shows the method of giving birth in water has no proven medical benefit for mother or baby.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released its report Thursday. The guidelines state that using a birthing pool for the first stages of labor is safe for a healthy woman and can even help manage pain and shorten labor. But their research says giving birth under water has its risks.

The study says reported complications are rare, but there have been a handful of reports of drownings and other problems for infants. Researchers say underwater births should only be done in research settings.

Paula Bernini Feigal the director of the Morning Star Birth Center in Menomonie says she disagrees.

“Since my training of a midwife, I have used water as a comfort to the women and that was 22 years ago,” said Bernini Feigal.

She says the use of water during labor is what midwife's call the ‘liquid epidural’.

“It creates an environment of buoyancy and relaxation. The warmth of the water and just the relaxing environment of being submerged in water drastically helps women feel more comfortable with the sensations of labor” Bernini Feigal said.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says while there is no clear number on how many babies are being born in water, it’s becoming increasingly common for hospitals and birthing centers to offer the option.

At Morning Star women are encouraged to choose the birthing option that makes them feel most comfortable. Bernini Feigal says sometimes that means being both in and out of water and for some women even delivering in water.

“We monitor the baby using intermittent fetal monitoring with a doppler that are water prove so it doesn't matter where the mother is. There is no danger in a baby being birthed into water providing that the labor as progressed smoothly,” said Bernini Feigal.

But the study by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that is still unproven. It warns that only women with low-risk pregnancies should consider water births and says more research should be done.

Morning Star also only recommends alternative birthing plans for low-risk pregnancies

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