Birthing Pools May Ease Labor Pains
Immersion in Water May Reduce the Need for Drugs, Medical Interventions
Jan. 26, 2004 -- Placing pregnant women in birthing pools
during the early stages of labor may ease pain and anxiety and reduce the need
for additional medical interventions.
A new study shows that first-time mothers who had slower than
expected progress in the initial stages of labor and were placed in birthing
pools were less likely to need drugs to aid contractions or epidurals to
Researchers say the findings show that immersion in water for
up to four hours may be an alternative means to manage slow labors and reduce
Birthing Pools Ease Labor
In the study, published today in the online edition of the
British Medical Journal, researchers compared the effects of using
birthing pools on about 100 first-time mothers experiencing slow progression
through the stages of labor.
Half of the women were immersed in water in the birth pool and
the other half received standard medical care including medications to help
with stimulating uterine contractions.
Researchers found that only half of the women who used the
birthing pools needed an epidural anesthesia to relieve pain compared with
two-thirds of the other women.
The women who labored in the birthing pools were also less
likely to need drugs to aid contractions of the uterus to help them progress
through the stages of labor. They also reported less pain and greater
satisfaction with the freedom of movement provided by the birthing pool.
Researchers say that under standard practice, all women
experiencing slow progress in labor receive further medical interventions to
stimulate uterine contractions, but one-fifth of the women who used the
birthing pools didn't require additional assistance.
The number of cesarean sections (C-sections) and difficult
deliveries requiring the use of medical instruments, such as forceps, between
the two groups was similar, and there was no evidence that use of the birthing
pools increased the length of the labor process.