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New research on water births could see more mothers asking for them in hospitals

Would you choose or did you have a water birth, mama?

New research on water births could see more mothers asking for them in hospitals

Should a pool be part of my birth plan? Many pregnant women find themselves asking this exact question. While the number of water births in the United States is unknown, according to the New York Times, increasing sales and rentals of birthing pools suggest more women are choosing the method (see celebrities like Hilary Duff and Bekah Martinez as an example).

But water births are are less popular with hospitals and some medical organizations. In recent years both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) have raised concerns about water births, citing a lack of research and "case reports of rare but serious adverse effects in the newborn" and it's estimated that fewer than 10% of American maternity wards offer water birth as an option.

But a new study published in the journal BIrth concludes water births are just as safe non-water births and that women who give birth in pools and tubs have fewer first and second-degree tears.

"The long and short of it is that if you use proper techniques...the outcomes are very good," says Lisa Kane Low, the study's senior author and professor at the University of Michigan School of Nursing. "They mirror what we see in international studies of water birth."

The study suggests that for healthy moms with uncomplicated pregnancies, water births can be an option. This affirms the position of the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), which states: "Researchers indicate that women who experience uncomplicated pregnancies and labors with limited risk factors and evidence-based management have comparable maternal and neonatal outcomes whether or not they give birth in water."

This is why in some countries water births are more accessible than they are stateside. In the United Kingdom, in-hospital water births are more common than they are in the United States. It is estimated half of UK hospital maternity wards are equipped with pools to offer water birth and both the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives support the practice (provided mom is healthy and the pregnancy is uncomplicated).

However, the UK's National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) official stance is complicated. It states that being in water during labor is good for pain relief, but also that "there is insufficient high‑quality evidence to either support or discourage giving birth in water."

For many experts, there is a distinction to make here: They may support laboring in the tub but not actually giving birth under the water. "Immersion in water during the first stage of labor may offer some benefits: It may shorten labor and is associated with a decreased use of epidurals," says Joseph R. Wax, chair of the ACOG Committee on Obstetric Practice that developed the 2016 ACOG Committee Opinion on the topic. "However, it is important to differentiate between laboring in water and delivering in water. There is no evidence to support delivering a baby in water has benefits to the baby."

The authors of the University of Michigan study suggest that even if there is a lack of evidence regarding benefits to the baby, the benefits to mothers should be a factor. Ruth Zielinski is the study's co-author and clinical associate professor of nursing who says more US facilities should offer water birth and have guidelines for implementing it, and she wants to see more studies on the satisfaction level of mothers who have water births.

Moms' satisfaction and opinions matter. It is her birth. And that's why it is time for more research and perhaps more birthing pools in hospitals.

In This Article

    An expectant mama's to-do list can feel endless… but here's the good news: A lot of those tasks are actually really exciting. Planning your baby registry is especially thrilling: You get a say in what gifts friends and family members will buy for your new addition!

    But it can also feel a bit overwhelming to make sense of all the gear on the market. That's why we suggest mentally dividing your registry into two categories: items you need to prepare for your baby's arrival and items that sure would be nice to have.

    Here at Motherly, our editors have dozens of kids and years of parenting experience among us, so we know our way around the essentials. We also know how mama-friendly the registry-building experience is with Target, especially thanks to their recently upgraded registry and introduction of Year of Benefits. Just by creating your baby registry with Target, you'll snag a kit with $120 in discounts and samples. The savings keep coming: You'll also get two 15% off coupons to buy unpurchased items from your registry for up to a year after your baby's expected arrival. Change your mind about anything? The Year of Benefits allows for returns or exchanges for a full year. And as of August 2020, those who also sign up for Target Circle when creating a baby registry will also get the retailer's Year of Exclusive Deals, which includes ongoing discounts on baby essentials for a full year.

    Here are 10 items we agree deserve a spot in the "need" category on your registry, mama.


    A crib to grow with your baby

    Delta Children Farmhouse 6-in-1 Convertible Crib

    First-time mamas are likely creating nursery spaces for the first time, and that can get expensive. Adding a quality crib to Target registry gives friends and family members the option to join forces to make a large purchase through group gifting.

    $269.99

    A safe + convenient car seat

    Safety 1st OnBoard 35 LT Infant Car Seat

    The list of non-negotiable baby essentials is pretty short, but it definitely includes a car seat. In fact, most hospitals will not allow you to leave after delivery until a car seat check is performed. We recommend an infant seat, which can easily snap into a base in your car.

    $99.99

    A traveling nursery station

    Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

    It's hard to beat a good playard when it comes to longevity. This item can be baby's sleeping place when they're sharing a room with you for the first months. Down the line, it can function as a roving diaper change station. And when you travel, it makes a great safe space for your little one to sleep and play.

    $99.99

    A swing for some backup help

    4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

    A dependable swing can be a real lifesaver for new parents when they need their hands free (or just a minute to themselves). Because many babies are opinionated about these things, we appreciate that the mamaRoo has multiple modes of motion and soothing sounds.

    $219.99

    An easy-to-clean high chair

    Ingenuity SmartClean Trio Elite 3-in-1 High Chair - Slate

    Our best registry advice? Think ahead. It really won't be long before your child is ready for those first bites of solid food, at which point you'll need a high chair. We like one that transitions to a booster seat atop an existing dining room chair.

    $99.99

    A diaper bag to share

    Eddie Bauer Backpack - Gray/Tan

    When you're a mom, you're usually toting diapers, wipes, clothing changes, bottles, snacks, toys and more. You need a great bag to stash it all, and if you're anything like us, you'll choose a backpack style for comfort and functionality. Bonus: This gender neutral option can easily be passed off to your partner.

    $64.99

    A hygienic spot for all those diaper changes

    Munchkin Secure Grip Waterproof Diaper Changing Pad 16X31"

    We can confidently predict there will be a lot of diaper changes in your future. Do yourself a favor by registering for two comfortable, wipeable changing pads: one to keep in the nursery and another to stash elsewhere in your house.

    $29.99

    A way to keep an eye on your baby at night

    Infant Optics Video Baby Monitor DXR-8

    Feeling peace of mind while your baby sleeps in another room truly is priceless.That's why we advocate for a quality video monitor that will allow you to keep tabs on your snoozing sweetheart.

    $165.99

    A comfortable carrier to free up your hands

    Petunia Pickle Bottom for Moby Wrap Baby Carrier, Strolling in Salvador

    A wrap carrier may be about as low-tech as baby items come, but trust us, this product stands the test of time. Great for use around the house or while running errands, this is one item you'll appreciate so much.

    $39.99

    A full set of bottles + cleaning supplies

    Dr. Brown's Options+ Complete Baby Bottle Gift Set

    Whether you plan to work in an office or stay at home, breastfeed or formula feed, bottles are a valuable tool. To make your life as simple as possible, it's nice to have an easy-to-clean set that is designed to work through the first year.

    $39.99

    Target's baby registry is easy to create from the comfort of your own home. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with the Year of Benefits featuring exclusive deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

    This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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