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Potential benefits of waterbirth

  • Less pain and higher satisfaction with the birth experience

  • Less medication use for pain relief—this may be important for people who want or need to avoid epidurals or narcotic medications during labor

  • Less use of artificial oxytocin and possibly shorter labors

  • Higher rates of normal vaginal birth

  • Lower rates of episiotomy

  • Higher rates of intact perineum

    • Possibly lower rates of severe tears (3rd or 4th degree), especially in high-episiotomy settings

  • Possibly lower rates of postpartum hemorrhage

Potential risks of waterbirth

  • There may be a higher rate of mild labial tears from waterbirth in low-episiotomy environments such as homes and birth centers

  • Umbilical cord snap is a rare but possible occurrence. Care providers need to take care not to place too much traction on the cord when guiding the infant out of the water and identify the source of any bleeding immediately.

  • There have been several case reports of water aspiration. These cases have not been observed in prospective research since 1999, and almost all of the infants in the case reports made a complete recovery.

  • Although large research studies have not shown any increase in the risk of infection, there have been several case reports of infections after waterbirths. This risk can be lowered by using pools that are easy to disinfect, filling tubs closer to the time of the birth, and regularly testing hospital water supply, hoses, and birthing pools.       

 (Source: Evidence Based Birth)

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