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Immersion in water in pregnancy, labour and birth

Immersion in water in pregnancy, labour and birth
Immersion in water in pregnancy, labour and birth
Background Enthusiasts for immersion in water during labour, and birth have advocated its use to increase maternal relaxation, reduce analgesia requirements and promote a midwifery model of supportive care. Sceptics are concerned that there may be greater harm to women and/or babies, for example, a perceived risk associated with neonatal inhalation of water and maternal/neonatal infection.
Objectives To assess the evidence from randomised controlled trials about the effects of immersion in water during pregnancy, labour, or birth on maternal, fetal, neonatal and caregiver outcomes.
Search strategy We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group trials register (September 2003).
Selection criteria All randomised controlled trials comparing any kind of bath tub/pool with no immersion during pregnancy, labour or birth.
Data collection and analysis We assessed trial eligibility and quality and extracted data independently. One reviewer entered the data and another checked them for accuracy.
Main results Eight trials are included (2939 women). No trials were identified that evaluated immersion versus no immersion during pregnancy, considered different types of baths/pools, or considered the management of third stage of labour. There was a statistically significant reduction in the use of epidural/spinal/paracervical analgesia/anaesthesia amongst women allocated to water immersion water during the first stage of labour compared to those not allocated to water immersion (odds ratio (OR) 0.84, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.71 to 0.99, four trials). There was no significant difference in vaginal operative deliveries (OR 0.83, 95% CI 0.66 to 1.05, six trials), or caesarean sections (OR 1.33, 95% CI 0.92 to 1.91). Women who used water immersion during the first stage of labour reported statistically significantly less pain than those not labouring in water (40/59 versus 55/61) (OR 0.23, 95% CI 0.08 to 0.63, one trial). There were no significant differences in incidence of an Apgar score less than 7 at five minutes (OR 1.59, 95% CI 0.63 to 4.01), neonatal unit admissions (OR 1.05, 95% CI 0.68 to 1.61), or neonatal infection rates (OR 2.01, 95% CI 0.50 to 8.07).
Authors' conclusions There is evidence that water immersion during the first stage of labour reduces the use of analgesia and reported maternal pain, without adverse outcomes on labour duration, operative delivery or neonatal outcomes. The effects of immersion in water during pregnancy or in the third stage are unclear. One trial explores birth in water, but is too small to determine the outcomes for women or neonates.
cochrane review, immersion in water, pregnancy, labour, birth
1-51
Cluett, E.R.
0da29316-c0d6-4760-a65a-f860f0ba4523
Nikodem, V.C.
24327491-676c-4ff4-b82e-14a14fa3d570
McCandlish, R.E.
f81ca931-beb0-47a2-b486-b6b0baca9175
Burns, E.E.
da8b3f6d-f9d8-4588-b64f-02be6217b2f2
Cluett, E.R.
0da29316-c0d6-4760-a65a-f860f0ba4523
Nikodem, V.C.
24327491-676c-4ff4-b82e-14a14fa3d570
McCandlish, R.E.
f81ca931-beb0-47a2-b486-b6b0baca9175
Burns, E.E.
da8b3f6d-f9d8-4588-b64f-02be6217b2f2

Cluett, E.R., Nikodem, V.C., McCandlish, R.E. and Burns, E.E. (2004) Immersion in water in pregnancy, labour and birth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 1 (CD000111.pub2.), 1-51. (doi:10.1002/14651858.CD000111.pub2).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Background Enthusiasts for immersion in water during labour, and birth have advocated its use to increase maternal relaxation, reduce analgesia requirements and promote a midwifery model of supportive care. Sceptics are concerned that there may be greater harm to women and/or babies, for example, a perceived risk associated with neonatal inhalation of water and maternal/neonatal infection.
Objectives To assess the evidence from randomised controlled trials about the effects of immersion in water during pregnancy, labour, or birth on maternal, fetal, neonatal and caregiver outcomes.
Search strategy We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group trials register (September 2003).
Selection criteria All randomised controlled trials comparing any kind of bath tub/pool with no immersion during pregnancy, labour or birth.
Data collection and analysis We assessed trial eligibility and quality and extracted data independently. One reviewer entered the data and another checked them for accuracy.
Main results Eight trials are included (2939 women). No trials were identified that evaluated immersion versus no immersion during pregnancy, considered different types of baths/pools, or considered the management of third stage of labour. There was a statistically significant reduction in the use of epidural/spinal/paracervical analgesia/anaesthesia amongst women allocated to water immersion water during the first stage of labour compared to those not allocated to water immersion (odds ratio (OR) 0.84, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.71 to 0.99, four trials). There was no significant difference in vaginal operative deliveries (OR 0.83, 95% CI 0.66 to 1.05, six trials), or caesarean sections (OR 1.33, 95% CI 0.92 to 1.91). Women who used water immersion during the first stage of labour reported statistically significantly less pain than those not labouring in water (40/59 versus 55/61) (OR 0.23, 95% CI 0.08 to 0.63, one trial). There were no significant differences in incidence of an Apgar score less than 7 at five minutes (OR 1.59, 95% CI 0.63 to 4.01), neonatal unit admissions (OR 1.05, 95% CI 0.68 to 1.61), or neonatal infection rates (OR 2.01, 95% CI 0.50 to 8.07).
Authors' conclusions There is evidence that water immersion during the first stage of labour reduces the use of analgesia and reported maternal pain, without adverse outcomes on labour duration, operative delivery or neonatal outcomes. The effects of immersion in water during pregnancy or in the third stage are unclear. One trial explores birth in water, but is too small to determine the outcomes for women or neonates.

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More information

Published date: January 2004
Keywords: cochrane review, immersion in water, pregnancy, labour, birth

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 17568
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/17568
PURE UUID: af584f00-feeb-4368-a56c-5e2ea12fff32

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Date deposited: 18 Oct 2005
Last modified: 15 Jul 2019 19:29

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Contributors

Author: E.R. Cluett
Author: V.C. Nikodem
Author: R.E. McCandlish
Author: E.E. Burns

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