Throughout human existence, women have typically given birth to their offspring on land. Over the last 25 years, however, underwater birth has become more popular in certain parts of the world despite a paucity of data demonstrating that it is either beneficial or safe.1–22 Underwater birth occurs either intentionally or accidentally after water immersion for labor, a procedure promoted primarily as a means of decreasing maternal discomfort. A review of the available literature indicates that the risks of underwater birth to the newborn seem to outweigh the benefits, and caution is urged before widespread implementation.
Although there is no suggested benefit of underwater birth to the newborn, morbidities identified in clinical reports have raised concerns that this mode of delivery may not be safe. In 1983, Odent1 reported his experience with 100 consecutive deliveries. All mothers used water immersion during labor, but only a limited and unspecified number of births occurred under water. Two infants required positive-pressure support, but little additional data were provided. In 1995, Alderdice et al2 performed a retrospective survey of 4494 underwater deliveries by midwives in England and Wales. They reported 12 stillbirths or neonatal deaths, 51 cases of neonatal …
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