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Women Birth. 2017 Oct;30(5):431-441. doi: 10.1016/j.wombi.2017.04.001. Epub 2017 May 18.

A critical analysis of Australian policies and guidelines for water immersion during labour and birth.

Author information

1
School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of South Australia, City East Campus, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia. Electronic address: Megan.Cooper@unisa.edu.au.
2
Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia Campus, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
3
School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of South Australia, City East Campus, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Accessibility of water immersion for labour and/or birth is often dependent on the care provider and also the policies/guidelines that underpin practice. With little high quality research about the safety and practicality of water immersion, particularly for birth, policies/guidelines informing the practice may lack the evidence necessary to ensure practitioner confidence surrounding the option thereby limiting accessibility and women's autonomy.

AIM:

The aims of the study were to determine how water immersion policies and/or guidelines are informed, who interprets the evidence to inform policies/guidelines and to what extent the policy/guideline facilitates the option for labour and birth.

METHOD:

Phase one of a three-phase mixed-methods study critically analysed 25 Australian water immersion policies/guidelines using critical discourse analysis.

FINDINGS:

Policies/guidelines pertaining to the practice of water immersion reflect subjective opinions and views of the current literature base in favour of the risk-focused obstetric and biomedical discursive practices. Written with hegemonic influence, policies and guidelines impact on the autonomy of both women and practitioners.

CONCLUSION:

Policies and guidelines pertaining to water immersion, particularly for birth reflect opinion and varied interpretations of the current literature base. A degree of hegemonic influence was noted prompting recommendations for future maternity care policy and guidelines'.

ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS:

The Human Research Ethics Committee of the University of South Australia approved the research.

KEYWORDS:

Childbirth; Choice; Practice guideline; Risk; Water immersion; Waterbirth

PMID:
28529087
DOI:
10.1016/j.wombi.2017.04.001
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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