Is Doctors' Opinion Part of a Battle Over Birthing Control?

Is Doctors' Opinion Part of a Battle Over Birthing Control?

Not too long ago, the standard for delivering a baby called for having the mother in the hospital delivery room and a doctor in control. A lot has changed over the past few decades.

Many hospitals offer a variety of birthing options to expectant mothers these days. In some cases the doctors have been replaced by nurse-midwives and beds have been replaced by pools of warm water. So-called water births have become more common in the past few decades. But now a national panel of obstetricians and pediatricians is throwing some cold water on the warm water model.

From the parents’ point of view, the biggest concern during delivery is bound to be safety. Mistakes can be made and if negligence or malpractice is in evidence, the child may suffer a birth injury that could result in brain damage that could leave the child permanently disabled. Compensation may be called for and an attorney can help assess if a case exists.

The opinion issued by the doctors acknowledges that warm water immersion may have benefits in easing labor and reducing the need of anesthesia. But it says there’s not enough evidence to indicate that a tub is safe for the actual birth. They say case reports indicate that, while rare, immersion births can lead to adverse effects such as infections or near drowning.

The doctors say lacking evidence from solid clinical trials, the procedure should be considered experimental and used only during labor. They also say facilities offering it should select candidates carefully and follow rigid disinfection rules to ensure the pool environment is safe.

Proponents of immersion births say safety is always a valid concern. But they say immersion labor and birthing is only growing and that research is being compiled that suggests when performed under the right conditions and under professional supervision, it is safe for mother and child, and may lead to better outcomes.

Some advocates suggest that the doctors’ report is a reflection of their worry that they’re being nudged out of the process altogether. They also caution that rejection of immersion births might amount to throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Source: National Public Radio, “Doctors Say Don’t Give Birth To Baby In A Tub, But Midwives Disagree,” Nancy Shute, March 23, 2014

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