While women have been giving birth in tubs for forever, water births have gained popularity in the last 30 years, even in hospitals, as women all over the world realize the benefits: Water reduces stress, relieves pain, and may help uterine muscles contract more efficiently. Besides, what’s not to love about a warm bath?
Not everyone’s excited to dive in, though. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have a committee opinion statement on water birth that nods to the benefits of being in water during the first stage of labor, but says that immersion in water during the second stage of labor hasn’t been proven to be a.) safe and b.) beneficial for either mother or baby.
Pediatricians are worried about babies drowning or inhaling water that could cause infections, and some obstetricians are concerned that water births might prevent healthcare providers from effectively monitoring mothers and babies.