Why a Water Birth May Not Be a Good Idea

The next time you see one of those You Tube® videos singing the praises about water births, Amy Stenton wants you to think again. She had one and now wants them stopped. She sued The Legacy Healthcare system for 35 million dollars as a result of the injuries incurred by her son who now has significant disabilities including cerebral palsy and hearing problems. He will need life-long care. We often hear about patients suing for damages but when patients demand that the hospital program be shut down because it’s dangerous, it gives us reason to pause.


Stenton and her spouse, Matthew Marino, read the hospital’s website and assumed water births were safe. Allegedly the website read: “European studies have shown a lower use of pain medication, decreased need for medicines to stimulate labor, decreased perception of pain, and high patient satisfaction, among other benefits, ­during labor and delivery in a birth tub."


What the website omitted was the expert opinion of both The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologist (ACOG) and the American Academy of Pediatricians who do not think water births are safe. If you are considering water births, here are the facts:

  • Laboring in water is okay. Delivering in water is not. The safety of having a baby in water has not been established
  • The baby’s umbilical cord could snap off or rupture
  • The baby could drown
  • Potential infections from the tubs
  • Patients need to be low-risk before entering the tub during early labor
  • Difficulty in checking the baby’s temperature
  • Breathing problems for the baby

Unfortunately there were no physicians available during Stenton’s birth which aggravated the situation. Based on a survey in 2005, there are approximately 143 birth centers in the U.S. that allows water births however, as a result of Stenton’s lawsuit, those numbers might change.