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Physicians, Midwives Disagree On The Safety Of Water Birth

Water immersion labor and birth are growing in popularity. This type of birth is described as being more peaceful for the baby and less painful for the mother. These benefits are clear, but doctors and midwives disagree on the overall safety of this type of birth.Laboring in the water seems to be widely accepted as a safe procedure. The concern for a lot of obstetricians arises when it comes time to actually birth the child. Here, the major concerns include a risk that the child could drown or that the mother or child could be exposed to infection.Barbara Harper not only advocates for water birth but founded the group Waterbirth International. For her, she alluded to a fear of becoming unnecessary as a reason why the physician community is reluctant to give water birth the final stamp of approval.“One thing that happens in a water birth,” said Harper, “you as the attending physician pretty much have to stand there with your hands in your pockets and let it happen without your participation.”Harper did acknowledge the fact that there are some very real risks. Her solution was to exclude certain pregnancies deemed high risk, such as those involving a mom who has high blood pressure, diabetes or other health problems. She also suggests eliminating women who have previously had a C-section.Next, Harper admitted that the physician community’s fear of infection is very valid. “Infection control is critical,” she noted. Giving birth isn’t pretty; feces and blood could contaminate the water, and this could cause problems for both the mother and the child.What happens if a mother is sold on this type of birth as a safe birthing procedure but the result proves otherwise? Does it matter whether the parents listened to a midwife or consulted a physician? Which industry standard controls; the acceptance by midwives or the caution from licensed obstetricians? What if something does happen to the baby or the mother?A Harrisburg medical malpractice attorney can help parents sort out the details after a birth injury occurs. Determining whether an error occurred during birth or whether an entire birthing plan itself should never have been suggested in the first place is a responsibility that doesn’t have to land on the parent’s shoulders. 
Source: NPR, “Doctors Say Don’t Give Birth To Baby In A Tub, But Midwives Disagree,” Nancy Shute, March 23, 2014 

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