Water births are a type of birthing process where the mother delivers the newborn in a pool or tub of warm water. The infant is delivered under the water, which supporters assert is less traumatic than a traditional delivery environment. Though the concept is relatively new in modern American society, gaining popularity in the 1980s, women have reportedly engaged in water births for hundreds of years. In Japan, women delivered in the sea, while expectant mothers in Finland gave birth inside of saunas.
Supporters argue that it is a natural method of birth, with minimal risk for healthy mothers. The warm water reportedly eases the pain and discomfort of delivery, decreasing the need for medication and anesthesia. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) states that water births are useful for pain management during the first stages of birth. However, the organization warns about the risks involved in completing the actual delivery under water.
The Birth Injury Lawsuit
News Maine is reporting about a couple that is suing an Oregon hospital for injuries that their newborn suffered after a water birth. The couple’s son was delivered at the hospital in 2011, as part of the facility’s water birthing program. According to the court filings, the parents believe that the delivery was not handled correctly and that a C-Section delivery was more appropriate. They allege that midwives and nurses perform these water deliveries without the supervision of a licensed physician.
The Oregon couple is reportedly seeking:
***$23 million for the child’s current and future medical expenses
***$10 million for the child’s pain and suffering, stemming from cerebral palsy and the brain injury that he suffered.
***$3 million for the child’s loss of future hearing capacity.
Their pleading also asks the judge to order that the hospital stop performing water births.
The Controversy of Water Births
Water births are performed in various settings, including hospitals, private homes and birthing centers. Often times, in keeping with the theme of a natural birth, midwives perform these procedures instead of physicians. The most common problem with water birth situations is the lack of available emergency care when complications do arise. It is this risk that casts an air of controversy over water births.
According to the ACOG, mothers should exit the water when cervix dilation completes and pushing begins. The major reason for this warning is the additional amount of time it would take to exit the water should an emergency arise.
Serious water birth injuries are rare, but they include:
***Possible infections to the mother and/or infant
***Severing of the umbilical cord prior to the baby exiting the water
***An elevated or low body temperature at birth
***The infant could inhale bath water and drown
***Infant seizure while under the water
If your infant was injured during a water birth, contact the experienced attorneys of Levin & Perconti for a free consultation.
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