A new U.S. study of waterbirths found that hospital-based births involving water immersion had no higher risk of neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) or special care nursery admission than comparable deliveries in the control group without water immersion. The primary purpose of the study is to address the lack of methodologically sound research regarding maternal and neonatal outcomes for waterbirths. The study has been published in the journal, Obstetrics and Gynecology.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the professional organization that sets standards for obstetric practice, previously concluded that water immersion during the first stage of labor (when a woman is in labor but is not fully dilated) is safe for women with full-term, uncomplicated pregnancies. In fact, water immersion during labor provides benefits of pain relief, reduced analgesic need, shorter labor, and increased patient satisfaction. However, ACOG also identified an absence of well-designed studies to aid in the determination of the risks and benefits of water immersion during the second stage of labor (when a woman is fully dilated and can actively push during contractions).