advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Wetter, Better Births?

How safe is a water birth? I would like to deliver my baby in water. What are the benefits (besides a possible reduction of pain for the mom) and the concerns of a water birth?

A
Answer (Published 4/16/2003)

Reviewed on 3/09/2010

My daughter was born underwater, because I was convinced that water birth is a safe non-traumatic experience. First introduced in the 1970s, water births have been gaining in popularity, particularly in Europe and, in fact, a recent study from Italy found that in uncomplicated deliveries they even may shorten the first stage of labor. On the other hand, last year doctors in New Zealand reported on four cases where newborns inhaled water after underwater delivery, developed respiratory distress and required oxygen for anywhere from five minutes to six hours after birth. Some needed antibiotics, too.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Women's Health - Women's health issues such as menopause, PMS and menstruation can often be effectively addressed through lifestyle, diet, and prudent nutritional supplementation. Learn more - get your free, personalized vitamin recommendation today, at Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor.

Unfortunately, water births have not been widely studied so that no one can assure women that labor and delivery are equally as safe for both mother and baby as conventional births. However, a recent national surveillance study in Great Britain found a mortality rate of 1.2 per 1000 live births of babies born in water compared to 1.4 per 1000 among a comparable group of low-risk women having conventional births.

Immersion in warm water during labor relaxes muscles, reportedly leading to less painful uterine contractions and shorter labor. The Italian study I mentioned above found that water birth was also associated with a lower episiotomy rate and less need for pain relief compared with other methods of delivery. Although I've heard claims to the contrary, this study found no difference in the length of the second stage of labor (when the baby is moving through the birth canal).

Water births usually are considered suitable for women with low risk pregnancies. Some hospitals now offer water birth facilities, and you can rent or buy inflatable tubs for water births via a number of Internet sites that also provide referrals to water birth practitioners. If you're considering a water birth at home, I urge you to work with a midwife or practitioner with experience in this mode of labor and delivery. You also should become familiar with the safety considerations listed by England's Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists including temperature control of the water, the cleanliness of the tub, and a plan to deal with unexpected complications.

Dr. Andrew Weil

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here