Parliament “wants water births in State hospitals”

Doctors have poured cold water on a parliamentary bid to allow water births in State hospitals.

MPs are pushing for the government to set-up a pilot-scheme authorising two hospitals – one in the north and one in the south – to offer mums-to-be the option of birthing in a tank of water.

It is one of the proposals in a resolution published today in state newspaper Diário da República, designed to “improve the quality of maternal health care, and ensure the rights of pregnancy”.

But obstetricians think it’s a load of poppycock.

Banded under the unlikely initials of SPOMMF (for the Portuguese society of obstretricians and doctors of materno-fetal medicine), they say that with hospitals facing so many problems, the very consideration of introducing water births is a “fantasy”.

More to the point, “there is no scientific proof that water births hold any benefits for mothers”, says SPOMMF president Luís Graça.

Graça then goes on to tell journalists: “Birth can never take place in the water because in the first breath, the baby will be forced to aspirate water strongly contaminated by his mother’s body. There is a risk of developing an infection”.

It may well be that Graça is brought up to date with the pros and cons of water births over time – but the final decision will be with a government that as he explains has an uphill struggle maintaining the country’s hospitals with the services it already offers.

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