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BMJ. 2004 Feb 7;328(7435):314. Epub 2004 Jan 26.

Randomised controlled trial of labouring in water compared with standard of augmentation for management of dystocia in first stage of labour.

Author information

1
Nightingale Building (67), University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ. ec1@soton.ac.uk

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To evaluate the impact of labouring in water during first stage of labour on rates of epidural analgesia and operative delivery in nulliparous women with dystocia.

DESIGN:

Randomised controlled trial.

SETTING:

University teaching hospital in southern England.

PARTICIPANTS:

99 nulliparous women with dystocia (cervical dilation rate < 1 cm/hour in active labour) at low risk of complications. Interventions Immersion in water in birth pool or standard augmentation for dystocia (amniotomy and intravenous oxytocin).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Primary: epidural analgesia and operative delivery rates. Secondary: augmentation rates with amniotomy and oxytocin, length of labour, maternal and neonatal morbidity including infections, maternal pain score, and maternal satisfaction with care.

RESULTS:

Women randomised to immersion in water had a lower rate of epidural analgesia than women allocated to augmentation (47% v 66%, relative risk 0.71 (95% confidence interval 0.49 to 1.01), number needed to treat for benefit (NNT) 5). They showed no difference in rates of operative delivery (49% v 50%, 0.98 (0.65 to 1.47), NNT 98), but significantly fewer received augmentation (71% v 96%, 0.74 (0.59 to 0.88), NNT 4) or any form of obstetric intervention (amniotomy, oxytocin, epidural, or operative delivery) (80% v 98%, 0.81 (0.67 to 0.92), NNT 5). More neonates of women in the water group were admitted to the neonatal unit (6 v 0, P = 0.013), but there was no difference in Apgar score, infection rates, or umbilical cord pH.

CONCLUSIONS:

Labouring in water under midwifery care may be an option for slow progress in labour, reducing the need for obstetric intervention, and offering an alternative pain management strategy.

PMID:
14744822
PMCID:
PMC338094
DOI:
10.1136/bmj.37963.606412.EE
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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