Oregon State University researchers conducted the largest study of water births to date and found that there is no increased risk of death or major trauma by giving birth in this way.
In fact, water births were associated with better overall outcomes than non-water births.
OSU researchers Marit Bovbjerg and Melissa Cheyney conducted the study, which looked at more than 35,000 low-risk pregnancies from all 50 states. Half were water births and the other half were non-water births.
While there were some slightly elevated risks in water births, such as postpartum uterine infections and umbilical cord avulsions, the risks for hemorrhages and hospitalizations in the first six weeks were lower.
Water births help with pain management during natural birth, which is why it is a popular method used for home births. The other pain management alternative is epidural anesthesia, which comes with its own risks.
“We try to be really careful in the paper to say, ‘This isn’t for everybody,’” Bovbjerg said, in a news release. “But for some people, this could be a totally viable option.”