Most maternity units accept that water births are far kinder to the mother, and can significantly reduce labour pains.
But the role of the birthing pool may be even more important than obstetricians realize, new research suggests. Researchers from Southampton Hospital in England have discovered that women who go into water in the very first stages of labour are far less likely to need analgesics or a caesarean.
They tested the theory on 99 first-time mothers, half of whom were immersed in water in the earliest stages of labour, while the rest had standard care without access to a birthing pool. Those who went in the birthing pool had far fewer epidurals, needed less help in delivering and had fewer obstetric interventions.
So what's the conclusion? Get 'em in the water sooner.
(Source: British Medical Journal, 2004; 328: 314-8).