Date shows using warm water immersion for labor can reduce cesarean section rate
October 8, 2007 (Portland, OR)- Data released at the Gentle Birth World Congress found that the integration of waterbirth into obstetric and midwifery practices can reduce cesarean section rates.
Dr. Duncan Neilson, Obstetrician/ Perinatologist from Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland, Oregon, reported that with the initiation of a waterbirth program at the Legacy Salmon Creek facility, the number of women choosing this safe method of birth rose significantly. Dr. Neilson attributes this increase to the beneficial impact of the use of warm water immersion in labor and waterbirth at their institution, reporting “30% of all vaginal births within the Pacific Midwifery Service are waterbirths.” He added, “There is a desire to integrate water immersion into all of the Legacy facilities within the next year or two.”
Kathy Forrister, a registered nurse from Cheshire Medical Center in Keene, New Hampshire presented research statistics from this hospital stating that women offered hydrotherapy during labor experienced substantial pain relief and shorter labors. The reduced demand for obstetric pain medication resulted in the subsequent elimination of the staff obstetric anesthesiologist position at Cheshire Dartmouth Keene Medical Center. Forrister concluded that after the institution of the waterbirth program at their facility, the cesarean section rate dropped from 22% in 1997 to 14% in 2004, a statistically significant finding. Forrister attributes this drop to the beneficial impact of the use of warm water immersion in labor and waterbirth at their institution, reporting “40-50% of all vaginal births at Keene are waterbirths.”
Dianne Garland, Registered Midwife from Kent, England and author of Waterbirth: An Attitude to Care, released the results of a collaborative audit of over 2,000 waterbirths taking place between 2001-2004 from 10 institutions throughout the United Kingdom. “We found that women having waterbirths had shorter labors, fewer tears, decreased blood loss,” stated Dianne Garland, RM. “We weren’t out to show that waterbirth is better than dry birth, but that waterbirth is safe, realistic and effective. Waterbirth results are as good as, or better than, results for dry births.”
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