Physicians and midwives disagree on safety of birthing tubs

The use of birthing tubs during the labor and delivery process has grown in popularity throughout the United States. Proponents of the practice say it is a safe way to reduce labor pain without the use of medications, but physicians are now pushing back on these claims.

A recent publication by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) questions whether the risks of birth injuries associated with birthing tubs are worth the benefits.

More on water births: basics, risks and benefits

Water births provide the opportunity for a mother to deliver her child in a hot tub or pool of water. This can be done within the home or in some hospitals. If completed in the hospital, a special underwater unit may be used to measure the fetus' heartbeat. In addition to a reduced level of pain for the mother going through the birthing process, proponents also argue water births reduce the length of time it takes to labor.

The ACOG notes that there is little evidence to support claims of benefits from water births. Medical professionals agree that using a tub can help ease the pain of the first stages of labor but voice concerns about the safety of actually delivering a baby in a tub of water. This process can be dangerous, potentially leading to infection and brain damage if the infant aspirates while in the tub.

More on birth injuries

When used safely, injuries associated with a birthing tub can be avoided. The ACOG recommends these tubs only be used during the first stage of labor. Medical professionals also note that only certain candidates should consider using a tub. Pregnant women with certain risk factors should opt for a more traditional delivery in the hospital. This includes women with high blood pressure, diabetes and who have had a previous cesarean delivery.

It is also important to note that compensation may be available to those who suffer from complications during the labor and delivery process. If the complications were connected to a physician or other medical professional's negligent or reckless act, that professional, the medical institution or others may be held liable for their mistakes. A variety of factors can contribute to this form of malpractice, such as improperly monitoring the fetal heart rate or not responding to concerning changes in the labor and delivery process in an appropriate manner.

In these situations, it is wise to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney to review your case and help better ensure your legal rights are protected.