Is Water Immersion During Labor Safe? Interview with:

Dr Elizabeth R Cluett  PhD MSc RM RGN PGCEA PFHEA Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Health Sciences University of Southampton Southampton UK

Dr. Cluett

Dr Elizabeth R Cluett  PhD MSc RM RGN PGCEA PFHEA
Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Health Sciences
University of Southampton
Southampton UK is the background for this study?

Response: Water immersion during labor and birth is increasingly popular and is becoming widely accepted across many countries, and particularly in midwifery-led care settings.

Immersion in water during labor and birth facilitates physiological labor and birth, offers women a non-pharmacological pain relief option and facilitates a sense of choice, control and comfort; qualities strongly associated with women’s satisfaction with their birth experience. What are the main findings?

Response: Laboring in water reduced the number of women having an epidural. This review found no evidence that laboring in water increases the risk of an adverse outcome for women or their newborns; in particular giving birth in water did not appear to affect mode of birth, increased requirement for admission to neonatal intensive care unit, maternal and/or neonatal infection  or the number of women having an obstetric anal sphincter injuries (OASIS). What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Overall laboring and/or giving birth in water may enable healthy women who have a straightforward pregnancy to have fewer interventions leading to a spontaneous birth and provides them a choice that is available in all birth settings, and therefore should be offered to all healthy women. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: The trials varied in quality and further research is needed particularly for waterbirth and its use in birth settings outside hospital labor wards before we can be more certain of these effects. Research is also needed about women’s and caregivers experiences of labor and birth in water. Is there anything else you would like to add? 

Response: Maternity service should aim to provide immersion in water facilities as an option of healthy women, and ensure  staff are confident and competent to provided  care using these facilities.

No disclosures


Immersion in water during labour and birth

Cochrane Cluett ER, Burns E, Cuthbert A
16 May 2018

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