Is the FDA after your kiddie pool?

Does the FDA not have anything better to do? How about checking into the nutrition content in food that’s served to our children in public schools daily, and it’s connection to childhood obesity and diabetes? No? You have to go after our kiddie pools?? WHAT?!

According to Barbara Harper, author of Gentle Birth Choices and founder of  Waterbirth International, the FDA has seized a shipping container of AquaBorn birthing pools at a dock in Portland, Oregon, and have ordered agents to “inspect and destroy.”

Birth Pool, ready to work it's magic.

“They claim they are unregistered medical equipment, but they are not providing a way or means to get them registered. In

other words, if the medical authorities can’t stop waterbirth, then just have the FDA take away the

birth pools,” she explains in a lengthy discussion that began yesterday.

While birth pools are imported to Canada under the category “paddling pools” and some are imported here in the U.S. under the category “sitz baths,” they have no legal standing as medical equipment at this time.

As the medical community continues it’s attempt at treating pregnancy as an illness, we will continue to use and promote the methods of giving birth that we know are safe for our bodies and our babies. Pregnancy is not an illness, and a birthing tub is not a medical device to be regulated.

Read on for interesting facts about waterbirth from Heather at Witnessing Birth

Hip-hip-hooray for waterbirth!

During my labor & delivery rotation, I research birth methods and found a great article that presents some compelling evidence to support waterbirth. Titled “Waterbirths: A Comparative Study”, the article appeared in Fetal Diagnosis and Therapy in 2000; the study itself was completed in Switzerland by researchers Verena Geissbuhler and Jakob Eberhard. Looking at data compiled over a period of 6 1/2 years, 7508 births were analyzed with specific attention to birth method – bedbirth, waterbirth, and birthing stool were the options considered for this study.

So, let’s fast-forward to the results: episiotomies were more commonly performed on women who gave birth in the bed (35.45), followed by those who birthed on the stool (27.7%), with the lowest rate belonging to the women who birthed in water (12.8%). Talk about statistical significance! What’s more, bedbirthers also had the highest rate of 3rd- and 4th-degree lacerations (4.1%) and women who gave birth in the bed experienced more blood loss and pain than those who chose another birthing method. In contrast, maternal blood loss, use of pharmacological pain medicine, and dissatisfaction with the birth were decreased in women who had waterbirths, as compared to bedbirthers and those who used the birthing stool.

What’s more, the APGAR scores of babies born in water were significantly higher at 5 and 10 minutes when compared with babies born on land. No increase in incidence of infection or water aspiration after waterbirths was reported. In fact, the researchers posit “waterbirths may enhance the experience of birth.” Yeehaw!

The take-home message: alternative forms of birthing (such as waterbirth and usage of a birth stool) do not increase the risk of poor health outcomes for mom or baby and actually provide some protection against restrictive and invasive obstetrical procedures. Thus, waterbirth and usage of a birth stool should be integrated into maternity care settings, and used alongside classical birth management. What does this mean? Bring waterbirth into the hospital! Special note to nurses, doctors, midwives, and other members of the obsterical team: form a working group, research birth methods, make a policy (or update an old one to reflect current research), and change the face of maternity care at your hospital.

After all, waterbirth should not exist on the obstetrical fringe, huddled in the corner next to homebirth. Rather, introducing waterbirth and the usage of a birth stool into the hospital will pave the way for women to exercise choice with regard to birthing position and method, and fosters an empowering, respectful, caring environment. Always, careful vigilance, regular monitoring, and prompt treatment of emergencies is paramount. However, with a positive, trusting provider-parent-child relationship, cultivating more choices in childbirth has the potential to make a life-long impact on the way women view and experience birth.

So FDA, why this attack on birth pools?