Groups say warm water may relieve early labor pain, but water births have no proven benefit

The AP reports that “sitting in a tub of warm water can relieve a mom-to-be’s pain during the early stages of labor, but actually giving birth under water has no proven benefit and may be risky, say recommendations” from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

In the “joint opinion” released today, “a distinction is made between the two uses, saying that early on immersion may be helpful, as long as some basic precautions are taken.”

Birthing in warm water, which proponents say simulates the uterine environment, has been an option for several decades, although more women use it for early labor than delivery, said Tina Johnson of the American College of Nurse-Midwives.

“I don’t know that this statement will necessarily change women’s desire for that option,” said Johnson, whose organization is drafting its own guidelines.

The report recommends that hospitals or birth centers choose low-risk candidates for immersion during labor, keep tubs clean, monitor women appropriately and be able to move them out of the water quickly if a problem occurs.

Enter your email to subscribe to Dr. Walt's blogs.

You have successfully subscribed to the newsletter

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

Dr. Walt Larimore will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.