Report: Labor in tub OK but water births’ benefits unproven

03/25/2014 12:00 AM

08/08/2014 10:23 AM

Sitting in a tub of warm water can relieve a mom-to-be’s pain during the early stages of labor, but actually giving birth under water has no proven benefit and may be risky, say recommendations for the nation’s obstetricians.

There’s no count of how many babies in the U.S. are delivered in water, but it is increasingly common for hospitals to offer birthing pools or tubs to help pregnant women relax during labor.

In a report released Thursday, a distinction is made between the two uses, saying that early on immersion may be helpful, as long as some basic precautions are taken.

But there has been little scientific study of underwater delivery, along with a handful of reports over the past decade or so of near-drownings and other risks to the infant, said the joint opinion from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Although complications appear to be rare, the report urges that underwater deliveries be performed only in research studies to settle the questions.

Thursday’s recommendations aren’t binding. Birthing in warm water, which proponents say simulates the uterine environment, has been an option for several decades, although more women use it for early labor than delivery, said Tina Johnson of the American College of Nurse-Midwives.

The report recommends that hospitals or birth centers choose low-risk candidates for immersion during labor, keep tubs clean, monitor women appropriately and be able to move them out of the water quickly if a problem occurs. It says potential risks of underwater delivery include infection, difficulty regulating the baby’s body temperature and respiratory distress if the baby inhales water.

Associated Press

Love me, love me not?

Obesity in young people is a national issue; so is anorexia. Americans have more work-saving devices than ever but feel as though they have less free time. In light of these paradoxes, two new books examine the contradictory problems of egocentrism and low self-esteem.

In “Mirror, Mirror,” Simon Blackburn, a former professor of philosophy at Cambridge University and the University of North Carolina, sweeps through the history of vanity and egotism over millennia, from the Greek myth of Narcissus falling fatally in love with his own reflection to the iconic L’Oreal slogan “Because you’re worth it.” His perceptions are wry and sometimes droll, but he falls into a sort of despair when he makes the case that excessive self-regard has merged with economics to create the “monstrous excesses of the ‘greed is good’ culture.”

If his unsparing critique makes you cringe, you might turn to “Unworthy” by Anneli Rufus, a journalist who thinks a bigger social problem is the “secret epidemic” of low self-esteem. Rufus, whose book is to be released in May, says she has struggled with this condition all her life, and lists the traits that characterize her and her fellow sufferers: “We apologize. . . . We ruin our own fun. We are stuck in the past . . .,” and she notes that “for us, have a nice day is a battle cry.” In chatty anecdotes she describes her difficult path to achieving – occasionally – the bliss of not being self-conscious. Though her style is nothing like Blackburn’s, she comes to a similar conclusion: To feel better, and make the world better, get over yourself.

Washington Post

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