Waterbirth is both unnatural and potentially deadly.
You can easily see why in this video where a baby remains underwater for nearly FOUR MINUTES and easily could have inhaled the water in the birth pool.
I have no idea why this baby was allowed to remain submerged for so long.
It is ironic that waterbirth is promoted as part of natural childbirth when it is anything but natural. There are no primates who give birth in water. With the possible (and possibly apocryphal) historical exception of one tribe of Indians on the California coast, there are no human societies that give birth in water.
Babies evolved to breathe immediately upon birth. As anyone who has delivered a substantial number of babies can tell you, they can gasp, snort and cry before their bodies are born.
Babies practice breathing in utero. The claim that babies won’t breathe until they feel air on their faces is flat out false.
Indeed, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Fetus and Newborn in conjunction with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists notes:
Although it has been claimed that neonates delivered into the water do not breathe, gasp, or swallow water because of the protective “diving reflex,” studies in experimental animals and a vast body of literature from meconium aspiration syndrome demonstrate that, in compromised fetuses and neonates, the diving reflex is overridden, whichleads potentially to gasping and aspiration of the surrounding fluid.
The water poses three specific threats to babies: inhalation of water interfere with oxygen exchange in the lungs; it increases the risk of lung infection from the bacteria in the birth pool water; and the baby can suffer life threatening hyponatremia (dilution of electrolytes) from ingesting the hypotonic water of the birth pool.
And AAP/ACOG report concludes:
…[T]he practice of immersion in the second stage of labor (underwater delivery) should be considered an experimental procedure that only should be performed within the context of an appropriately designed clinical trial with informed consent. Facilities that plan to offer immersion in the first stage of labor need to establish rigorous protocols for candidate selection, maintenance and cleaning of tubs and immersion pools, infection control procedures, monitoring of mothers and fetuses at appropriate intervals while immersed, and immediately and safely moving women out of the tubs if maternal or fetal concerns develop.
According to the text accompanying the video, the birth pool was barely filled in time, suggesting that there was no time to heat the water, a risk factor for neonatal compromise, further aggravated by delaying wrapping the baby after it was finally removed from the birth pool.
Fortunately, this baby did breathe eventually. We have no idea whether the baby suffered complications like infection or hyponatermia.
The parents posted the video to boast about what they had done. They shouldn’t be proud; they should be ashamed for risking the baby’s life in this way.
I find it excruciating to watch this video and I suspect nearly all obstetricians, pediatricians and neonatologists would agree.
Childbirth isn’t maternal performance art. There are enough inherent risks to a baby during childbirth. Why would any mother willingly add more?