Birth, Bath, and Beyond: The Science and Safety of Water Immersion During Labor and Birth

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Abstract

The 2014 objection to birth in water voiced by both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) in ACOG Bulletin #594 on immersion in water during labor and birth is nothing new. The Committee on Fetus and Newborn published the very same opinion in 2005, based on a case report that was published in 2002 in the journal Pediatrics. What has changed since 2002 is a growing body of evidence that reports on the safety and efficacy of labor and birth in water. This article reviews the retrospective literature on water birth and explains newborn physiology and the protective mechanisms that prevent babies from breathing during a birth in water.

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