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Wading through midwives’ water birth decisions

The vast majority of women who plan to give birth in water experience an uncomplicated vaginal birth, though many who wish to birth in water do not achieve their aim.

Those are some of the key findings of a study, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, that held midwives are identifying and approving the right women to labour and birth in water

The research team found that 80 per cent of the 502 women surveyed at Western Australia’s King Edward Memorial Hospital (KEMH) experienced an uncomplicated birth. Of the 303 women who went on to labour in water, 59 per cent birthed in water and 41 per cent did not.

Lead author Dr Lucy Lewis from Curtin University and KEMH said: “This research found that women who were identified and approved to undertake labour in water were less likely than those who were not to be transferred to KEMH’s main birth suite, suggesting the labour had fewer or no complications, and they were more likely to have a normal or spontaneous vaginal birth.”

But which women were more likely to birth in water and what restricted some women who planned to from doing so? Nursing Review spoke with Lewis to learn more about the experiences of the women in the study.

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