Water birth ban at Ga. hospital incites protests from pregnant women

A group of pregnant women are planning to gather in protest at DeKalb Medical Center's North Decatur (Ga.) campus on Aug. 26 due to the hospital's decision to temporarily suspend the practice of water births, according to the Decaturish.

In a press release relayed by the Decaturish, the protestors said, "Current patients of the hospital were not notified of the change, which takes place immediately. Women late in their pregnancies will likely be unable to switch to new hospitals or providers." Additionally, the press release stated that the group is currently examining litigation as a possible means of reprisal.

The press release also argued that the hospital's order also serves as a de facto ban on vaginal breech deliveries as it specifically prohibits popular OBGYN Bradford Bootstaylor, MD, from performing these procedures.

According to Decaturish, Dr. Bootslayor's office said the physician will be making arrangements to perform these procedures at Emory Hospital Midtown in Atlanta.

A DeKalb Medical Center spokesperson told Decaturish, "We're conducting a review of the safety information available regarding water birth. While the review is in progress, we've discontinued water birth delivery, but some exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis. There are people who have pre-approved birthing plans." As for Dr. Bootslayor's situation, the hospital's spokesperson declined to comment.

According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, immersion in water during the first stage of labor may be associated with decreased pain and duration of labor, but there is no evidence that the practice improves perinatal outcomes. Water immersion during the second stage of labor has not been associated with benefits to either the mother or the fetus. Case reports of rare but serious adverse effects in newborns during water immersion in the second stage of labor have led the organization to designate water immersion at this stage as an experimental procedure with attributable risks.

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