Underwater births should be limited to clinical trials, says US pediatric and obstetrics panel

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 25 March 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g2335
  1. Michael McCarthy
  1. 1Seattle

Immersion in water during the first stage of labor may have some beneficial effects such as decreasing pain, the use of anesthesia, and the duration of labor, but immersion during the second stage of labor—so called “underwater births”—should be considered an experimental procedure that should only be performed in the setting of a clinical trial, an expert panel has concluded.1 The panel was convened by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“Laboring in water may offer some potential benefits, but delivering underwater does not seem to have clear advantages, and the risk of rare, but serious, consequences to a delivering baby’s health is something women and providers should all be aware of,” said Jeffrey L Ecker, chairman of the Committee …

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