Water birth
Giving birth in water can do more harm than good, a new report says.Jason Lander/Flickr

Giving birth in water can do more harm than good, a new report says.

Experts from American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) found no added benefits associated with water birth. On the other hand, the popular childbirth procedure poses serious health risk to both the newborn and the mother, according to them 

For reaching the conclusion, the Committee reviewed available literature on the topic. Underwater birth was directly associated with increased risk of maternal and neonatal infections, damages to umbilical cord and troubles in regulating body temperature of the newborn. The birth procedure that involves the baby inhaling the tub water also caused respiratory distress, seizures and asphyxiation, shortly after the baby enters the world.

"There is no evidence to support delivering babies in water has benefits to the baby," Dr Tonse Raju, chief, Pregnancy and Perinatology Branch at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), a member of the committee said, in a news release.

However, the committee members found a series of benefits associated with immersing in water during the early stages of labour. Usage of a birthing pool during early labour was associated with decreased pain, use of anaesthesia and reduction in labour lengths. 

"Laboring in water may offer some potential benefits, but delivering underwater does not seem to have clear advantages, and the risk of rare, but serious, consequences to a delivering baby's health is something women and providers should all be aware of," Jeffrey L Ecker, chair of the College's Committee on Obstetric Practice that developed the Committee Opinion, said.

The experts also urged hospitals and birth centres to keep their birthing pool hygienic to avoid any risks.