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Wien Klin Wochenschr. 2002 Jun 14;114(10-11):391-5.

Effects of water birth on maternal and neonatal outcomes.

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Departments of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, Hospital Rudolfstiftung, Vienna, Austria.



Our purpose was to assess benefits and possible disadvantages of water births and to compare maternal and neonatal outcomes with normal vaginal deliveries.


This case-controlled study was carried out between January 2000 and July 2001. A total of 140 women who wanted water births were enrolled into the study. Our analysis was restricted to a sample of women with a gestational age > 37 weeks, a normal sized foetus, a reactive admission cardiotocography, drainage of clear amniotic fluid (if the membranes were already ruptured) and a pregnancy with cephalic presentation. Women with medical or obstetric risk factors were excluded. 140 controls were selected from the delivery database as the next parity-matched normal spontaneous vaginal delivery.


A statistically significant lower rate of episiotomies (p = 0.0001) and vaginal trauma (p = 0.03) was detected in the group assigned to water birth, whereas the frequency of perineal tears and labial trauma remained similar in both groups (p > 0.05). A statistically significant decrease in the use of medical analgesia (p = 0.0001) and oxytocin (p = 0.002) was observed in women who had water births. A trend towards a reduction of the length of the first stage of labour was only observed in primiparous women bearing in water, but this reduction did not reach statistically significance (p > 0.05). Manual placenta removal (p = 0.017), severe postpartum haemorrhage (blood loss > 500 ml; p = 0.002) and maternal infection rate (p = 0.03) were statistically significant lower in women who delivered in water. When analysing the postpartum haemoglobin, no statistically significant differences could be observed between the two groups (p > 0.05). No statistically significant differences were detected for neonatal parameters (p > 0.05) between women who had had water births and those choosing conventional vaginal delivery.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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