The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ (the College) Committee on Obstetric Practice has issued a committee opinion on the practice of immersion in water during labor and delivery. While much of the data are insufficient on which to draw conclusions regarding the benefits and risks of this practice, the College does recommend the following:
- Immersion in water during the first stage of labor may be associated with shorter labor and decreased use of spinal and epidural analgesia and may be offered to healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies between 37 0/7 weeks and 41 6/7 weeks of gestation.
- There are insufficient data on which to draw conclusions regarding the relative benefits and risks of immersion in water during the second stage of labor and delivery. Therefore, until such data are available, it is the recommendation of the College that birth occur on land, not in water.
- A woman who requests to give birth while submerged in water should be informed that the maternal and perinatal benefits and risks of this choice have not been studied sufficiently to either support or discourage her request. She also should be informed of the rare but serious neonatal complications associated with this choice.
- The opinions expressed in this document should not be interpreted in such a manner as to prevent the conduct of well-designed prospective studies of the maternal and perinatal benefits and risks associated with immersion during labor and delivery.
- Facilities that plan to offer immersion during labor and delivery need to establish rigorous protocols for candidate selection.
Immersion in water during labor and delivery. Committee Opinion No. 679. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstet Gynecol. 2016;128:e231–6.
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