I’ve heard lots of women talk about using a tub for parts of labor, including the birth itself, with mixed reviews. Some say it helps; some say it doesn’t. Not all hospitals have tubs in birthing suites, so they’re not even an option for many women, though birth centers tend to offer them and women electing home births can order inflatable tubs to birth in. I have no personal experience with water birth because my hospital didn’t have tubs and because I found labor so gruelingly painful that I got an epidural as soon as I could. No tub could have made a dent in the non-stop contractions that assaulted me.
What I just learned is that there have been no large-scale studies of the safety of birthing tubs in hospitals. Researchers in Indianapolis will conduct one of the first views of the subject:
Dr. Ballard will conduct an analysis of the past five years of underwater deliveries by HealthNet midwives, looking at such things as maternal blood loss, fetal respiration and other indicators of maternal and baby health, to determine the safety of the delivery method. She notes that since the delivery method is selected by the mother, the feasibility of conducting a randomized controlled trial is unknown.
The results of this will be interesting. If it turns out there is a significant positive difference in the outcomes of water births versus non-water births it might spark some changes in hospital policies across the country.
Did you have a water birth? How would you rate the experience?
Photo credit: photo stock
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