Is waterbirth safe?

There have been over 100,000 babies born in the water reported worldwide, and the research into the safety of waterbirth is still being done.  The main challenge in doing research on waterbirth is that women typically choose whether to labor and birth their babies in the water, just like women choose home birth, and it is often difficult to know if women who choose waterbirth are different from women who choose other methods of birth in ways that can affect the research outcomes (i.e., they may be in general older, having their second or third babies instead of their first, are better educated about birth, have better nutrition, fewer smokers, etc.).

These factors can overlap each other and make it difficult to see whether the outcomes are better or worse because of those things or because of the fact that they were in the water.  So researchers are still conducting studies to pin down whether there are any differences in outcomes between babies born in water and babies born on land.

Many of our clients choose to have a waterbirth at home.  Some mothers find that they just like to labor in the water because it seems to make the contractions much easier to handle.  The midwife can monitor the baby’s heartbeat regularly in the water with a special waterproof stethoscope.

If you choose to have your baby in the water, the midwife will help you to bring your baby up out of the water and gently into your arms within a few seconds after s/he comes out.  Until babies come in contact with air, they receive all of their oxygen through the umbilical cord, just like they do throughout the entire pregnancy.  For a great explanation of how this amazing process works in the newborn and why they don’t inhale water when they are born, see “What Prevents Baby From Breathing Underwater” by Barbara Harper.