Waterbirth: current knowledge and medico-legal issues

Waterbirth: current knowledge and medico-legal issues

Authors

  • Annalisa Vidiri Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Rome, Italy
  • Simona Zaami a:1:{s:5:"en_US";s:120:"Department of Anatomical, Histological, Forensic and Orthopedic Sciences, “Sapienza” University of Rome, Rome, Italy";}
  • Gianluca Straface Division of Perinatal Medicine, Policlinico Abano Terme, Abano Terme, Italy
  • Giuseppe Gullo Azienda Ospedaliera Ospedali Riuniti (AOOR) Villa Sofia Cervello, IVF Public Center, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy
  • Irene Turrini Azienda USL Toscana Centro, Gynecology and Obstetric Department, Santo Stefano Hospital, Prato, Italy
  • Daniela Matarrese Azienda USL Toscana Centro, Sanitary Direction, Santo Stefano Hospital, Prato, Italy
  • Fabrizio Signore Obstetrics and Gynecology Department, Unità Sanitaria Locale (USL) Roma 2, Sant’Eugenio Hospital, Rome, Italy
  • Anna Franca Cavaliere Azienda USL Toscana Centro, Gynecology and Obstetric Department, Santo Stefano Hospital, Prato, Italy
  • Federica Perelli Azienda USL Toscana Centro, Gynecology and Obstetric Department, Santa Maria Annunziata Hospital, Florence, Italy
  • Laura Marchi Azienda USL Toscana Centro, Gynecology and Obstetric Department, Santo Stefano Hospital, Prato, Italy

Keywords:

delivery, waterbirth, water immersion

Abstract

Water immersion during labour and birth has become increasingly popular and widespread in many countries, in particular in midwifery-led care settings. Nevertheless, there is a dearth of quality data about waterbirth, with currently available findings mostly arising from observational studies and case series. The lack of high-quality evidence and the controversial results reported by different studies determined a “behavioral gap” without clearly objective, consistent indications allowing for a sound and evidence-based decision making process. Although water immersion in the first stage of labour is generally considered a safe and cost-effective method of pain management for women in labor, concerns still linger as to the safety of immersion during the second stage of labor and delivery, particularly in terms of neonatal risks and medico-legal implications.

References

Cluett ER, Burns E, Cuthbert A. Immersion in water during labour and birth. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2018; 5: CD000111.

Taylor H, Kleine I, Bewley S, Loucaides E, Sutcliffe A. Neonatal outcomes of waterbirth: systematic review and meta-analysis. Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed 2016; 101: F357-65.

Vanderlaan J, Hall PJ, Lewitt M. Neonatal outcomes with water birth: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Midwifery 2018; 59: 27–38.

Sidebottom AC, Vacquier M, Simon K, et al. Maternal and Neonatal Outcomes in Hospital-Based Deliveries With Water Immersion. Obstet Gynecol 2020; 136: 707-715.

Cluett ER, Burns E. Immersion in water in labour and birth. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009; (2): CD000111. Update in: Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2018; 5: CD000111.

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and Royal College of Midwives. Immersion in water during labour and birth. RCOG RCM Statement. London: RCOG RCM; 2009. Available online: http://activebirthpools.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/RCOG-waterbirth.pdf (Accessed on 12th November 2021).

Committee Opinion No. 679: Immersion in Water During Labor and Delivery. Obstet Gynecol 2016 ; 128: e231-e236.

Hodgson ZG, Comfort LR, Albert AAY. Water Birth and Perinatal Outcomes in British Columbia: A Retrospective Cohort Study. J Obstet Gynaecol Can 2020; 42: 150-155.

Collins SL, Afshar B, Walker JT, et al. Heated birthing pools as a source of Legionnaires’disease. Epidemiol Infect 2016; 144: 796-802.

Franzin L, Cabodi D, Scolfaro C, Gioannini P. Microbiological investigations on a nosocomial case of Legionella pneumophila pneumonia associated with water birth and review of neonatal cases. Infez Med 2004; 12: 69-75.

Fritschel E, Sanyal K, Threadgill H, Cervantes D. Fatal legionellosis after water birth, Texas, USA, 2014. Emerg Infect Dis 2015; 21:130-132.

Walker JJ. Birth underwater: sink or swim. Br J Obstet Gynaecol 1994; 101: 467-8.

Schafer R. Umbilical cord avulsion in waterbirth. J Midwifery Womens Health 2014; 59: 91-94.

Davies R, Davis D, Pearce M, Wong N. The effect of waterbirth on neonatal mortality and morbidity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JBI Database System Rev Implement Rep 2015; 13: 180-231.

Snapp C, Stapleton SR, Wright J, Niemczyk NA, Jolles D. The Experience of Land and Water Birth Within the American Association of Birth Centers Perinatal Data Registry, 2012-2017. J Perinat Neonatal Nurs 2020; 34: 16-26.

Clews C, Church S, Ekberg M. Women and waterbirth: A systematic meta-synthesis of qualitative studies. Women Birth 2020; 33: 566-573.

Zaami S, Zupi E, Lazzeri L, Centini G, Stark M, Malvasi A, Signore F, Marinelli E. Episiotomy: a medicolegal vicious cycle. Panminerva Med 2021; 63: 224-231.

Aughey H, Jardine J, Moitt N, Fearon K, Hawdon J, Pasupathy D, Urganci I; NMPA Project Team, Harris T. Waterbirth: a national retrospective cohort study of factors associated with its use among women in England. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 2021; 21: 256.

Zaami S, Stark M, Beck R, Malvasi A, Marinelli E. Does episiotomy always equate violence in obstetrics? Routine and selective episiotomy in obstetric practice and legal questions. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci 2019; 23: 1847-1854.

Mollamahmutoğlu L, Moraloğlu O, Ozyer S, et al. The effects of immersion in water on labor, birth and newborn and comparison with epidural analgesia and conventional vaginal delivery. J Turk Ger Gynecol Assoc 2012; 13: 45-49.

Weaver MH. Water Birth in the Hospital Setting. Nursing for Women’s Health 2014;18:365-369.

Zaami S, Montanari Vergallo G, Napoletano S, Signore F, Marinelli E. The issue of delivery room infections in the Italian law. A brief comparative study with English and French jurisprudence. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med 2018; 31: 223-227.

Troiano G, Lo Nostro A, Talini M, et al. Water birthing and infectious risks: an Italian study. European Journal of Public Health 2018; 28.

Davies R, Davis D, Pearce M, Wong N. The effect of waterbirth on neonatal mortality and morbidity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JBI Database System Rev Implement Rep 2015; 13: 180-231.

Nutter E, Meyer S, Shaw-Battista J, Marowitz A. Waterbirth: an integrative analysis of peer-reviewed literature. J Midwifery Womens Health 2014; 59: 286-319.

Water Birth – Guidelines for the use of water for labour and birth. University Hospitals of Leicester. Written in October 2004. Last Reviewed in February 2021.

Bedigian B. Sizeable medical malpractice settlement for botched water birth. Gilman and Bedigian Trial Attorneys. Issued on 15th December 2021. Available online: https://www.gilmanbedigian.com/sizeable-medical-malpractice-settlement-for-botched-water-birth/ (Accessed on 13th November 2021)

Downloads

Published

14-03-2022

Issue

Section

FOCUS ON

How to Cite

1.
Vidiri A, Zaami S, Straface G, Gullo G, Turrini I, Matarrese D, et al. Waterbirth: current knowledge and medico-legal issues. Acta Biomed [Internet]. 2022 Mar. 14 [cited 2024 Jul. 21];93(1):e2022077. Available from: https://mattioli1885journals.com/index.php/actabiomedica/article/view/12617