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Birthing in Water Not Encouraged, Little Scientific Study Done

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The nation's obstetricians say a tub of warm water to help a pregnant woman relax in the beginning stages of labor can be a good thing, but birthing in water? Not so much.

   The non-binding joint opinion from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics says there has been little scientific study of underwater delivery, along with a handful of reports of near-drowning and other risks.

   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.

   The new opinion makes a distinction between the two uses, saying that early on immersion may be helpful. Although complications appear to be rare, the report urges that underwater deliveries be performed only in research studies.

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