Water Births Are Just as Safe for Moms, New Study Says

A recent study found that water births are as safe as traditional labor. Here's what to consider when it comes to water birth and local hospitals that offer the option.

Water birth is an intriguing option for many expectant mothers, drawing interest for the pain-reducing effect of warm water and other reported benefits during labor.

Limited research on its safety has kept it from becoming more mainstream in the U.S., Metro Parent reported in 2017. But a recent study from the University of Michigan found that water births are as safe as non-water births for moms.

The study, which included data from 397 water births and 2,025 land births from two midwifery practices, found “no differences in outcomes” between the two birthing methods for NICU admissions and similar rates of postpartum hemorrhage, Science Daily reports.

With proper techniques, “the outcomes are very good,” senior study author Lisa Kane Low, a professor in the University of Michigan School of Nursing, said in the Science Daily article. “They mirror what we see in international studies of water birth.”

The study also found that women in the water birth group had fewer first- and second-degree tears. You can read the full report here.

What to know about water birth

The American Pregnancy Association offers information on water births for expecting parents. Here’s a look at a few of their tips on this birthing method.

  • Water birth availability is increasing in the U.S., the association reports. Be sure to ask your provider if it’s an option in your area.
  • Water’s buoyancy promotes “more efficient uterine contractions,” leading to better oxygenation of the uterine muscles, which can mean less pain for mom and more oxygen for baby.
  • Water birth is not for everyone, including women who have certain high-risk pregnancies.
  • Beware of too-hot temperatures and the risk of dehydration or overheating during labor, which can be dangerous. “Birthing pools are specifically designed to prevent this problem,” the American Pregnancy Association notes.

Where to have a water birth in metro Detroit

Interested in a water birth for yourself? Mothers in southeast Michigan will be glad to know there are some local options. While some mothers have a water birth at home, here’s a look at some centers and hospitals that offer water birth or hydrotherapy tubs for laboring. Be sure to check in advance about their policies on water birth. Find full details on these places at Metro Parent’s roundup of hospitals and birthing centers.

  1. DMC Hutzel Women’s Hospital – The Birthing Center in Detroit
  2. Henry Ford Macomb Hospital Birthing Center, Clinton Township
  3. Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital Birthing Center, West Bloomfield
  4. Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital Birthing Center, Wyandotte
  5. Providence Hospital New Life Center, Southfield
  6. Beaumont Hospital – Royal Oak Birth Center, Royal Oak


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