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Evidence on Water Birth Safety – Exclusive Q&A with Rebecca Dekker on her New Research

July 10th, 2014 by avatar

 

Evidence Based Birth , a popular blog written by occasional Science & Sensibility contributor Rebecca Dekker, PhD, RN, APRN, has just today published a new article, “Evidence on Water Birth Safety“ that looks at the current research on the safety of water birth for mothers and newborns.  Rebecca researched and wrote that article in response to the joint Opinion Statement “Immersion in Water During Labor and Delivery” released in March, 2014 by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics.  I had the opportunity to ask Rebecca some questions about her research into the evidence available on water birth, her thoughts on the Opinion Statement and her conclusions after writing her review. – Sharon Muza, Science & Sensibility Community Manager.

Sharon Muza: First off, is it waterbirth or water birth?

Rebecca Dekker: That’s actually good question! Research experts tend to use the term “waterbirth.” Google prefers “water birth.” So I used both terms in my article to satisfy everyone!

SM: Have you heard or been told of stories of existing water birth programs shutting down or being modified as a result of the recent AAP/ACOG opinion?

RD: Yes, definitely. There was a mother in my state who contacted me this spring because she was 34 weeks pregnant and her hospital decided not to offer waterbirth anymore. She had given birth to her daughter in a waterbirth at the same hospital two years earlier. With her current pregnancy, she had been planning another hospital waterbirth. She had the support of her nurse midwife, the hospital obstetricians, and hospital policy. However, immediately after the release of the ACOG/AAP opinion, the hospital CEO put an immediate stop to waterbirth. This particular mother ended up switching providers at 36 weeks to a home birth midwife. A few weeks ago, she gave birth to her second baby, at home in the water. This mother told me how disheartening it was that an administrator in an office had decided limit her birth options, even though physicians and midwives at the same hospital were supportive of her informed decision to have a waterbirth.

In another hospital in my hometown, they were gearing up to start a waterbirth program this year—it was going to be the first hospital where waterbirth would be available in our city—and it was put on hold because of the ACOG/AAP Opinion.

Then of course, there were a lot of media reports about various hospital systems that suspended their waterbirth programs. One hospital system in particular, in Minnesota, got a lot of media coverage.

SM: Did you attempt to contact ACOG/AAP with questions and if so, did they respond?

RD: Yes. As soon as I realized that the ACOG/AAP Opinion Statement had so many major scientific errors, I contacted ImprovingBirth.org and together we wrote two letters. I wrote a letter regarding the scientific problems with the Opinion Statement, and ImprovingBirth.org wrote a letter asking ACOG/AAP to suspend the statement until further review. The letters were received by the President and President-Elect of ACOG, and they were forwarded to the Practice Committee. We were told that the Practice Committee would review the contents of our letters at their meeting in mid-June, and that was the last update that we have received.

SM: What is the difference between an “Opinion Statement” and other types of policy recommendations or guidelines that these organizations release? Does it carry as much weight as practice bulletins?

RD: That’s an interesting question. At the very top of the Opinion Statement, there are two sentences that read: “This document reflects emerging clinical and scientific advances as of the date issued and is subject to change. The information should not be construed as dictating an exclusive course of treatment or procedure to be followed.” But, as you will see, some hospitals do see this statement as dictating an exclusive course of treatment, and others don’t.

I have heard that “opinions” do not carry as much weight as “practice bulletins,” but it really depends on who the audience is and who is listening. In other words, some hospitals may take the Opinion Statement word-for-word and feel that they must follow it to the letter, and other hospitals may ignore it. A lot of it probably depends on the advice of their risk management lawyers.

For example, a nurse midwife at a hospital in Illinois sent me a letter that their risk-management attorneys had put together to advise them on this issue. (She had the attorney’s permission to share the letter with me). These lawyers basically said that when a committee of two highly-respected organizations says that the practice of waterbirth should be considered an experimental procedure, both health care providers and hospitals are “charged with a duty to heed that statement,” unless they find research evidence that waterbirth has benefits for the mother or fetus, and that the evidence can override the Committee’s conclusions.

On the other hand, another risk management lawyer for a large hospital system told me that of course hospitals are not under any obligation to follow an ACOG/AAP Opinion Statement. It’s simply just that—an opinion.

So as to how much weight the Opinion Statement carries—I guess it is really dependent on who is reading it!

SM: How would you suggest a well-designed research study be conducted to examine the efficacy and safety of waterbirth? Or would you say that satisfactory research already exists.

RD: First of all, I want to say that I’m really looking forward to the publication of the American Association of Birth Centers (AABC) data on nearly 4,000 waterbirths that occurred in birth centers in the U.S., to see what kind of methods they used. From what I hear, they had really fantastic outcomes.

And it’s also really exciting that anyone can join the AABC research registry, whether you practice in a hospital, birth center, or at home. The more people who join the registry, the bigger the data set will be for future research and analysis. Visit the AABC PDR website to find out more.

I think it’s pretty clear that a randomized trial would be difficult to do, because we would need at least 2,000 women in the overall sample in order to tell differences in rare outcomes. So instead we need well-designed observational studies.

My dream study on waterbirth would be this: A large, prospective, multi-center registry that follows women who are interested in waterbirth and compares three groups: 1) women who have a waterbirth, 2) women who want a waterbirth and are eligible for a waterbirth but the tub is not available—so they had a conventional land birth, 3) women who labored in water but got out of the tub for the birth. The researchers would measure an extensive list of both maternal and fetal outcomes.

It would also be interesting to do an additional analysis to compare women from group 2 who had an epidural with women from group 1 who had a waterbirth. To my knowledge, only one study has specifically compared women who had waterbirths with women who had epidurals. Since these are two very different forms of pain relief, it would be nice to have a side-by-side comparison to help inform mothers’ decision making.

SM: What was the most surprising finding to you in researching your article on the evidence on water birth safety?

RD: I guess I was most surprised by how poorly the ACOG/AAP literature review was done in their Opinion Statement. During my initial read of it, I instantly recognized multiple scientific problems.

A glance at the references they cited was so surprising to me—when discussing the fetal risks of waterbirth, they referenced a laboratory study of pregnant rats that were randomized to exercise swimming in cold or warm water! There weren’t even any rat waterbirths! It was both hilarious and sad, at the same time! And it’s not like you have to read the entire rat article to figure out that they were talking about pregnant rats—it was right there in their list of references, in the title of the article, “Effect of water temperature on exercise-induced maternal hyperthermia on fetal development in rats.”

These kind of mistakes were very surprising, and incredibly disappointing. I expect a lot higher standards from such important professional organizations. These organizations have a huge influence on the care of women in the U.S., and even around the world, as other countries look to their recommendations for guidance. The fact that they were making a sweeping statement about the availability of a pain relief option during labor, based on an ill-researched and substandard literature review—was very surprising indeed.

SM: What was the most interesting fact you discovered during your research?

RD: With all this talk from ACOG and the AAP about how there are “no maternal benefits,” I was fascinated as I dug into the research to almost immediately find that waterbirth has a strong negative effect on the use of episiotomy during childbirth.

Every single study on this topic has shown that waterbirth drastically reduces and in some cases completely eliminates the use of episiotomy. Many women are eager to avoid episiotomies, and to have intact perineums, and waterbirth is associated with both lower episiotomy rates and higher intact perineum rates. That is a substantial maternal benefit. It’s kind of sad to see leading professional organizations not even give the slightest nod to waterbirth’s ability to keep women’s perineums intact.

In fact, I’m puzzled as to why keeping women’s perineums intact and uncut is not perceived as a benefit by anyone other than the women themselves. And here is the heart of declaring waterbirth as “not having enough benefits” to justify its use: Who decides the benefits? Who decides what a benefit is, if not the person benefitting? Who should be weighing the potential harms and the potential benefits of waterbirth, and making an informed decision about their options? Should it be the mother? Or should it be the obstetrician?

SM: What can families do if they want waterbirth to be an option in their local hospital or birth center and it has been taken away or not even ever been offered before?

RD: That’s a hard question. It’s a big problem.

Basically what it boils down to is this—there are a lot of restraining forces that keep waterbirth from being a pain relief option for many women. But there are also some positive driving forces. According to change theory, if you want to see a behavior change at the healthcare organization level, it is a matter of decreasing the restraining forces, while increasing the driving forces. Debunking the ACOG/AAP Opinion Statement is an important piece of decreasing restraining forces. On the other side, increasing consumer pressure can help drive positive change.

SM: Do you think that consumers will be responding with their health dollars in changing providers and facilities in order to have a waterbirth?

RD: I think that if a hospital offered waterbirth as an option to low-risk women, that this could be a huge marketing tool and would put that hospital at an advantage in their community, especially if the other hospitals did not offer waterbirth.

SM: The ACOG/AAP opinion sounded very reactionary, but to what I am not sure. What do you think are the biggest concerns these organizations have and why was this topic even addressed? Weren’t things sailing along smoothly in the many facilities already offering a water birth option?

RD: I don’t know if you saw the interview with Medscape, but one of the authors of the Opinion Statement suggested that they were partially motivated to come out with this statement because of the increase in home birth, and they perceive that women are having a lot of waterbirths at home.

I also wonder if they are hoping to leverage their influence as the FDA considers regulation of birthing pools. You may remember that in 2012, the FDA temporarily prohibited birthing pools from coming into the U.S. Then the FDA held a big meeting with the different midwifery and physician organizations. At that meeting, AAP and ACOG had a united front against waterbirth. So I guess it’s no surprise for them to come out with a joint opinion statement shortly afterwards.

My sincere hope is that the FDA is able to recognize the seriously flawed methods of the literature review in this Opinion Statement, before they come out with any new regulations.

SM: How should childbirth educators be addressing the topic of waterbirth and waterbirth options in our classes in light of the recent ACOG/AAP Opinion Statement and what you have written about in your research review on the Evidence on Water Birth Safety?

RD: It’s not an easy subject. There are both pros and cons to waterbirth, and it’s important for women to discuss waterbirth with their providers so that they can make an informed decision. At the same time, there are a lot of obstetricians who cannot or will not support waterbirth because of ACOG’s position. So if a woman is really interested in waterbirth, she will need to a) find a supportive care provider, b) find a birth setting that encourages and supports waterbirth.

You can’t really have a waterbirth with an unwilling provider or unwilling facility. Well, let me take that back… you can have an “accidental” waterbirth… but unplanned waterbirths have not been included in the research studies on waterbirth, so the evidence on the safety of waterbirth does not generalize to unplanned waterbirths. Also, you have to ask yourself, is your care provider knowledgeable and capable of facilitating a waterbirth? It might not be safe to try to have an “accidental” waterbirth if your care provider and setting have no idea how to handle one. Do they follow infection control policies? Do they know how to handle a shoulder dystocia in the water?

SM: What kind of response do you think there will be from medical organizations and facilities as well as consumers about your research findings?

RD: I hope that it is positive! I would love to see some media coverage of this issue. I hope that the Evidence Based Birth® article inspires discussion among care providers and women, and among colleagues at medical organizations, about the quality of evidence in guidelines, and their role in providing quality information to help guide informed decision-making.

SM: Based on your research, you conclude that the evidence does not support universal bans on waterbirth. Is there anything you would suggest be done or changed to improve waterbirth outcomes for mothers or babies?

RD: The conclusion that I came to in my article—that waterbirth should not be “banned,” is basically what several other respected organization have already said. The American College of Nurse Midwives, the American Association of Birth Centers, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and the Royal College of Midwives have all said basically the same thing.

How can we improve waterbirth outcomes? I think continuing to be involved in clinical research studies (such as the AABC registry) is an important way to advance the science and provide evidence on which we can base practice and make more informed decisions with. Also, conducting clinical audits (tracking outcomes) in facilities that provide waterbirth would be important for quality control.

SM: Let’s look into the future. What is next on your plate to write about?

RD: I recently had a writing retreat with several amazing clinicians and researchers who flew from across the country to conduct literature reviews with me. We made an awesome team!! The topics that we have started looking at are: induction for post-dates, induction for ruptured membranes, and evidence-based care for women of advanced maternal age. I can’t decide which one we will publish first! The Evidence Based Birth readers have requested AMA next, but the induction for ruptured membranes article is probably further along than that one. We shall see!!

SM: Is there anything else you would like to share with Science & Sensibility readers on this topic?

RD: Thanks for being so patient with me! I know a lot of people were eagerly awaiting this article, and I wish it could have come out sooner, but these kinds of reviews take a lot of time. Time is my most precious commodity right now!

Has the recent Opinion Statement released by ACOG/AAP impacted birth options in your communities?  Do you discuss this with your clients, students and patients?  What has been the reaction of the families you work with? Let us know below in the comments section! – SM.

ACOG, American Academy of Pediatrics, Babies, Childbirth Education, Evidence Based Medicine, Home Birth, informed Consent, Maternity Care, New Research, Newborns, Research , , , , , , , ,

Why Pediatricians Fear Waterbirth – Barbara Harper Reviews the Research on Waterbirth Safety

March 27th, 2014 by avatar

By Barbara Harper, RN, CLD, CCE, DEM, CKC, CCCE

On March 20th, 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Fetus and Newborn and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Obstetric Practice released a joint clinical report entitled Immersion in Water During Labor and Delivery in the journal Pediatrics.  While not substantially different than previous statements released by the AAP, quite a stir was created.  Today, Barbara Harper, RN, CLD, CCE, DEM, CKC, CCCE, of Waterbirth International provides a research summary that supports waterbirth as a safe and reasonable option for mothers and babies.  Barbara Harper has been researching and teaching about safe waterbirth protocols for several decades and is considered an expert on the practice.  I am glad Barbara was able to share her knowledge with Science & Sensibility readers all the way from China, where she just finished another waterbirth workshop for Chinese hospital programs. – Sharon Muza, Community Manager, Science & Sensibility

In a candle lit room in Santa Barbara, California, in October of 1984, my second baby came swimming out of me in a homemade tub at the foot of my bed.  As soon as he was on my chest, I turned to my midwife and exclaimed, “We have got to tell women how easy this is!”

Earlier that month I sat in my obstetrician’s office with my husband discussing our plans, which had changed from an unmedicated hospital birth to a home waterbirth.  The OB shook with anger and accused me of potential child abuse, stating that if I did anything so selfish, stupid and reprehensible he would have no choice but to report me to the Department of Child Welfare.  I never stepped foot in his office again, but I did call his office and share the news of my successful home waterbirth.

Before setting up my homemade 300 gallon tub, I had researched through medical libraries for any published data on waterbirth, but could not find a single article, until a librarian called me and said she was mailing an article that came in from a French medical journal.  The only problem was that it was quite old. It had been published in 1803!  The next article would not come out until 1983, the very year that I was searching.[i]

The objections to waterbirth have always come from pediatricians, some with vehement opinions similar to those expressed by my former obstetrician.  The current opinion of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Fetus and Newborn is nothing new.  It was issued in 2005, restated in November 2012 and it is showing up again now.  There are many obstetricians and pediatricians who are perplexed and angered over the issuing of this statement.  Especially, doctors like Duncan Neilson of the Legacy Health Systems in Portland, Oregon. [ii]  Dr. Neilson is chair of the Perinatology Department and VP of both Women’s Services and Surgical Services at the Legacy Emanuel Hospital in downtown Portland.

In 2006, Dr. Neilson did an independent review of all the literature on waterbirth, including in obstetric, nursing, midwifery and pediatric journals. He concluded, “there is no credible evidence that waterbirth is a potential harm for either mothers or babies.” He reported that the majority of the waterbirth studies have been done and published in Europe with large numbers in retrospective analyses.[iii], [iv], [v], [vi] What has been published in the US is largely anecdotal and has involved very small numbers of case reports from home birth or birth center transfers into NICU. [vii], [viii], [ix] Dr. Neilson even pointed out that Jerold Lucy, M.D., the editor of the American Journal of Pediatrics put the following commentary in a sidebar in a 2002 issue of this respected research journal, “I’ve always considered underwater birth a bad joke, useless and a fad, which was so idiotic that it would go away. It hasn’t! It should!” [x]

The publication of such prejudicial statements makes it difficult for pediatricians to look at the European research without skepticism. Dr. Neilson concluded that American doctors were not getting the complete picture.  After this comprehensive review of waterbirth literature, Dr. Neilson believed that waterbirth is a safe birth option that provides other positive obstetric outcomes. He helped set up a Legacy research committee and the parameters for waterbirth selection were created, using current recommended selection criteria followed by other Portland hospitals offering waterbirth.

Upon Dr. Neilson’s recommendations, the entire Legacy system has adopted waterbirth. The most recent hospital to begin waterbirth was Good Samaritan in Portland, which conducted their first waterbirth in February of 2014.

Women seeking waterbirth and undisturbed birth have usually considered the consequences of interference with the birth process on the development, neurology and epigenetics of the baby.  The goal of the pediatrician and the goal of mothers who choose undisturbed birth is really exactly the same.  The use of warm water immersion aids and assists the mother in feeling calm, relaxed, nurtured, protected, and in control, with the ability to easily move as her body and her baby dictate.  From the mother’s perspective, using water becomes the best way to enhance the natural process without any evidence of increased risk.  A joint statement of the Royal College of Obstetricians, the Royal College of Midwives and the National Childbirth Trust in 2006 agreed.  They sat down together to explore what would increase the normalcy of birth without increasing risk and the very first agreement was that access to water for labor and birth would accomplish that task.[xi]

Framework for Maternity Services Protocol

The UK National Health Service and the National Childbirth Trusts formed a Framework for Maternity Services that includes the following statements:

  • Women have a choice of methods of pain relief during labour, including non pharmacological options.
  • All staff must have up-to-date skills and knowledge to support women who choose to labour without pharmacological intervention, including the use of birthing pools.
  • Wherever possible women should be allowed access to a birthing pool in all facilities, with staff competent in facilitating waterbirths.

There is a concerted effort to educate midwives and physicians in all hospitals in the UK on the proper uses of birthing pools and safe waterbirth practices. [xii]

The baby benefits equally from an unmedicated mother who labors in water and has a full complement of natural brain oxytocin, endorphins and catecholamines flowing through her blood supply. The mother’s relaxed state aids his physiologic imperative to be born.  The descent and birth of the baby is easier when the mother can move into any upright position where she can control her own perineum, ease the baby out and allow the baby to express its primitive reflexes without anyone actually touching the baby’s head.  The birth process is restored to its essential mammalian nature.

The true belief in the safety of waterbirth is a complete understanding of the mechanisms which prevent the baby from initiating respirations while it is still submerged in the water as the head is born and then after the full body has been expelled.  When Paul Johnson, M.D., of Oxford University, explained these mechanisms at the First World Congress on Waterbirth at Wimbledon Hall, in 1995, there was a collective nod of understanding from more than 1100 participants.  With this information, more waterbirth practices were established all over the UK and Europe.  Dr. Johnson went on to publish his explanations in the British Medical Journal in 1996.[xiii]

Johnson’s 1996 review of respiratory physiology suggests that, in a non-stressed fetus, it is unlikely that breathing will commence in the short time that the baby’s head is underwater. Johnson sees no reason to prevent this option being offered to women.

A Cochrane Review[xiv] of women laboring in water or having a waterbirth gives no evidence of increased adverse affects to the fetus, neonate, or woman.

American Academy of Pediatrics’ Misleading Committee Commentary

Despite this review, the 2005 American Academy of Pediatrics committee on Fetus and Newborn commentary raised concerns regarding the safety of hospital waterbirth. The committee commentary was not a study itself, but rather an opinion generated upon the review of research.

A review of the commentary and the sources cited, revealed irregularities. The commentary often paraphrased text from the references, redacted crucial words and sentences from the texts, and sometimes re-interpreted the authors’ conclusions.  Anecdotal case studies were referenced without being part of an empirical study.

Example:

Committee text: “All mothers used water immersion during labor, but only a limited and unspecified number of births occurred under water.” 2 infants required positive pressure support, but little additional data were provided.

From cited reference: 100 births occurred under water. Only 2 infants out of 100 needed suction of the upper respiratory tract and a short period of manual ventilatory support. [xv]

Committee text: “Alderdice et al performed a retrospective survey of 4494 underwater deliveries by midwives in England and Wales. They reported 12 stillbirths or neonatal deaths”

From cited reference: “Twelve babies who died after their mothers laboured or gave birth in water, or both, in 1992 and 1993 were reported. None of these cases was reported to be directly related to labour or birth in water.”[xvi]

Committee text: “In a subsequent survey of 4032 underwater births in England and Wales, the perinatal mortality rate was 1.2 per 1000 live births (95% confidence interval: 0.4–2.9) and the rate of admission to a special care nursery was 8.4 per 1000 live births (95% CI: 5.8–11.8) The author of this survey suggested that these rates may be higher than expected for a term, low-risk, vaginally delivered population.”

From cited reference: “4032 deliveries (0.6% of all deliveries) in England and Wales occurred in water. Perinatal mortality was 1.2/1000 (95% confidence interval 0.4 to 2.9) live births; 8.4/1000 (THEY LEFT OUT THE 2ND CI 5.8 to 11.8) live births were admitted for special care. No deaths were directly attributable to delivery in water….”

The reference also provides that the UK perinatal mortality and special care admission rates for conventional birth ranged from 0.8 to 4.6/1000 for perinatal mortality, and 9.2 to 64/1000 for special care admission—significantly higher than those utilizing waterbirth.

Nowhere in the cited reference can the statement be found that “these rates may be higher than expected for a term, low-risk, vaginally delivered population.” In fact, the study results reflect no effect on fetal outcomes and certainly not an increase in fetal mortality and special-care admissions.[xvii]

Finally, the committee commentary acknowledges the findings of the Geissbühler study[xviii]:

“A prospective observational study compared underwater birth with births using Maia-birthing stools and beds. Although underwater birth was associated with a decreased need for episiotomies and pain medication as well as higher APGAR scores and less cord blood acidosis in newborns, the birthing method was determined by maternal preference, and potential confounding variables were not analyzed.”

The committee does not elaborate on which confounding variables they feel are of concern. It appears this supportive study was automatically discredited without a reason.

While the American Academy of Pediatrics is committed to patient safety and evidence-based medicine, this commentary’s conclusions that hospital waterbirths are of greater risk than other hospital birth options for low risk and carefully screened patients are completely unfounded.

Waterbirth Studies

In 1998, I copied all the medical journal articles about waterbirth that had been published to date and sent the labeled and categorized studies to the Practice Committee of ACOG.  In the cover letter accompanying the rather weighty binders, I asked the Committee if they would review the literature and issue an opinion about actual birth in water.  The letter that arrived a few months later from Stanley Zinberg, MD, then head of the Practice Committee, stated, “until there are randomized controlled trials of large numbers of women undergoing birth in water, published in peer reviewed journals in the US, the committee is not able to issue an opinion.”

Randomized studies of waterbirth are difficult to design and implement for one major reason: women want to choose their own method of delivery and should be able to change their mind at any point of labor. Because of this, it is difficult to design a randomized controlled study without crossover between control and study group. A 2005 randomized trial which was set up in a Shanghai, China hospital was abandoned because the hospital director realized after only 45 births that the study was unethical.  The original goal was to study 500 births, but the results of those first 45 were so good they abandoned the research project, yet continued their commitment to offering waterbirth to any woman who wanted one.  The latest communication from the Changning Hospital in Shanghai indicates that they have facilitated well over 5000 waterbirths since then.

Randomized controlled trials may be few, however, many retrospective and prospective case-controlled studies have been performed, primarily in European countries with a long history of waterbirth. In reviewing published studies, a comparison of the safety of waterbirth to conventional births among low-risk patients can be made. The evidence reveals the option of waterbirth is safe and, looking at certain parameters, has superior outcomes.

European Research

Highlights of the literature:

  • APGAR scores were found to be unaffected by water birth.[xix] One study found a decrease in 1-minute APGAR scores exclusively in a subgroup of women who were in water after membranes were ruptured longer than 24 hours.[xx]
  • A consensus of researchers found that waterbirth had either no effect or reduced cesarean section and operative delivery rates.[xxi]
  • No studies have found an effect on rates of maternal or fetal infection.[xxii]
  • Statistically, waterbirth leads to increased relaxation and maternal satisfaction, decreased perineal trauma, decreased pain and use of pharmaceuticals, and decreased labor time.[xxiii]

Cochrane Collaboration Findings

A Cochrane Collaboration review of waterbirth in three randomized controlled studies (RCTs) show no research that demonstrates adverse effects to the fetus or neonate.[xxiv] Other studies that were not RCTs were included in the conclusion:

“There is no evidence of increased adverse affects to the fetus or neonate or woman from laboring in water or waterbirth. However, the studies are variable and considerable heterogeneity was detected for some outcomes. Further research is needed.”

Conclusion

Waterbirth is an option for birth all over the world. World-renowned hospitals, as well as small hospitals and birthing centers, offer waterbirth as an option to low risk patients. Though some members of the American Academy of Pediatrics and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists feel otherwise, the Cochrane Review and many other studies find no data that supports safety concerns over waterbirth.

Women increasingly are seeking settings for birth and providers that honor their ability to birth without intervention. Waterbirth increases their chances of attaining the goal of a calm intervention free birth.

Physicians and midwives are skilled providers who are being trained in waterbirth techniques, safety concerns, the ability to handle complications and infection control procedures.

Carefully managed, waterbirth is both an attractive and low-risk birth option that can provide healthy patients with non-pharmacological options in hospital facilities while not compromising their safety.

In contrast to Dr. Lucy’s statement, waterbirth is not a fad and it is not going away, especially when it is mandated as an available option for all women in the UK and practiced worldwide in over ninety countries. The first hospital that began a waterbirth practice in 1991, Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough, New Hampshire, is still offering this service to low risk women 23 years later.  They have been joined since then by just under 10% of all US hospitals including large teaching universities and the majority of all free standing birth centers.  Hospitals have invested in equipment, staff training and are collating data to present to the medical community.  Dr. Duncan Neilson in Portland, Oregon is working on a summary of the data on over 800 waterbirths at only one hospital in the Legacy Health System.

I have dedicated my entire life to changing the way we welcome babies into the world since that October night in 1984, when I told my midwife that we have to tell women about the wonders of waterbirth. Since that night, I have traversed the planet to 55 countries and helped hundreds of hospitals start waterbirth practices.  Birth in water is safe, economical, effective and is here to stay, despite the AAP’s recent statement.

References


[i] Odent, M.,1983. The Lancet, December 24/31, p 1476

[ii] Medical Plaza Bldg. 300 N. Graham St., Suite 100 Portland, OR 97227, (503) 413-3622 dneilson@lhs.org

[iii] Alderdice, F., R., Mary, Marchant, S., Ashiurst, H., Hughes, P., Gerridge, G., and Garcia, J. (April 1995). Labour and birth in water in England and Wales. British Journal of Medicine, 310: 837.

[iv] Geissbuehler, V., Stein, S., & Eberhard, J. (2004). Waterbirths compared with landbirths: An observational study of nine years. Journal of Perinatal Medicine, 32, 308-314

[v] Gilbert, Ruth E., Tookey, Pat A. (1999) Perinatal mortality and morbidity among babies delivered in water: surveillance study and postal survey. British Medical Journal ;319:483-487 (21 August)

[vi] Zanetti-Dallenback, R., Lapaire, O., Maertens, A., Frei, F., Holzgreve, W., & Hoslit, I. (2006). Waterbirth:, more than a trendy alternative: A prospective, observational study. Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 274, 355-365

[vii] Bowden, K., Kessler, D., Pinette, M., Wilson, D Underwater Birth: Missing the Evidence or Missing the Point? Pediatrics, Oct 2003; 112: 972 – 973.

[viii] Nguyen S, Kuschel C, Reele R, Spooner C. Water birth—a near –drowning experience. Pediatrics. 2002; 110:411-413

[ix] Schroeter, K., (2004). Waterbirths: A naked emperor (commentary) American Journal of Pediatrics, 114 (3) Sept, 855-858

[x] Neilson, Duncan  Presentation at the Gentle Birth World Congress, Portland, Oregon, Setpember 27, 2007

[xi] RCOG/The Royal College of Midwives (2006) Joint Statement no 1: Immersion in Water During Labour and Birth. London: RCOG

[xii] Johnson P (1996) Birth under water – to breathe or not to breathe. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 103(3): 202-8

[xiii] ibid

[xiv] Cluett, E.R., Burns, E. Water in Labor and Birth(review) Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 2 Art. No.: CD000111.DOI: 10:1002/14651858.CD000111.pub3

[xv] Odent, M.,1983. The Lancet, December 24/31, p 1476

[xvi] Alderdice, F. et.al.1995. British Journal of Midwifery 3(7), 375-382

[xvii] ibid

[xviii] Geissbühler V, Eberhard J, 2000

[xix] Aird, et al, 1997; Cammu, et al, 1994; Eriksson, et al, 1996; Lenstrup et al, 1987; Ohlsson et al, 2001, Otigbah et al, 2000; Rush, et al, 1996, Waldenstrom & Nilsson, 1992.

[xx] Waldenstrom & Nillson, 1992

[xxi] Aird, Luckas, Buckett, & Bousfield, 1997; Cammu et al, 1994; Cluett, Pickering, Getliffe, & St. George, 2004; Eckert, Turnbull, & MacLennon, 2001; Lenstrup, et al, 1987, Ohlsson, et al, 2001, Rush, et al, 1996)

[xxii] Cammu, Clasen, Wettere, & Derde, 1994; Eriksson, Lafors, Mattson, & Fall, 1996; Eldering, 2005; Lenstrup, Schantz, Feder, Rosene, & Hertel, 1987; Geissbuhler & Eberhard, 2000; Rush, et al, 1996; Schorn, McAllister, & Blanco, 1993, Thöni A, Mussner K, Ploner F, 2010; Waldenstrom & Nilsson, 1992.

[xxiii] Mackey,2001; Benfield et al, 2001

[xxiv] Cluett, E.R., Burns, E. 2012

About Barbara Harper

© Barbara Harper

© Barbara Harper

Barbara Harper, RN, CLD, CCE, DEM, CKC, CCCE,  loves babies and has been a childbirth reform activist since her first day at nursing school over 42 years ago. She is an internationally recognized expert on waterbirth, a published author and she founded Waterbirth International in 1988, with one goal in mind – to insure that waterbirth is an available option for all women. During the past four decades, Barbara has worked as a pediatric nurse, a childbirth educator, home birth midwife, midwifery and doula instructor and has used her vast experience to develop unique seminars which she teaches within hospitals, nursing schools, midwifery and medical schools and community groups worldwide. She was recognized in 2002 by Lamaze International for her contributions in promoting normal birth on an international level. Her best selling book and DVD, ‘Gentle Birth Choices’ book has been translated into 9 languages so far. Her next book ‘Birth, Bath & Beyond: A Practical Guide for Parents and Providers,’ will be ready for publication at the end of 2014. Barbara has dedicated her life to changing the way we welcome babies into the world. She considers her greatest achievement, though, her three adult children, two of whom were born at home in water. She lives in Boca Raton, Florida, where she is active in her Jewish community as a volunteer and as a local midwifery and doula mentor and teacher. Barbara can be reached through her website, Waterbirth International.

ACOG, American Academy of Pediatrics, Babies, Evidence Based Medicine, Guest Posts, Home Birth, informed Consent, Midwifery, New Research, Newborns, Research, Second Stage, Uncategorized , , , , , , , ,

MANA Response to Recent AAP Home Birth Statement: High-quality out-of-hospital newborn and postpartum care is standard for midwives

May 2nd, 2013 by avatar

By Geradine Simkins, CNM, MSN, Executive Director of Midwives Alliance of North America

This week, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement on home birth. While the statement affirmed “the right of women to make a medically informed decision about delivery”, many advocates expressed concerns. The statement failed to recognize Certified Professional Midwives, the providers most likely to attend a home birth in the United States. In this response, the Midwives Alliance of North America helps families, providers, and policy makers understand the critical role CPMs play in safe, healthy birth options. – Sharon Muza, Community Manager, Science & Sensibility

High-quality out-of-hospital newborn and postpartum care is standard for midwives

 

© http://flic.kr/p/8d52Qc

The Midwives Alliance of North America welcomes the primary concept communicated in the American Academy of Pediatrics’ April 24, 2013, policy statement entitled “Planned Home Birth.” As should be expected, AAP reminds its practitioners that newborn infants—regardless of the setting in which they are born—deserve an equal and unbiased, high-quality standard of care. The Midwives Alliance joins with AAP in affirming the need for a collaborative and integrated maternity care system that addresses the needs of all mothers and infants, regardless of the provider type or birth setting a woman chooses.

We are disappointed, however, in AAP’s decision to align with the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecologists’ policy on home birth. Serving the needs of the growing number of families choosing to birth at home, Certified Professional Midwives attend the majority of intended home births in the U.S., when a skilled attendant is present, making them the primary care providers for newborns in the home setting.

Certified Professional Midwives are skilled maternity care providers

AAP’s itemized recommendations for infant and newborn care, contained in their policy statement, are standard practice for credentialed midwives. In that respect, we find much with which we agree. These standard newborn exams, screens, and preventative care practices are wholly part of a credentialed midwife’s scope of practice, and further endorsed by individual state health departments. We also note that as AAP Neonatal Resuscitation Program certificate holders (required for certification and recertification), credentialed midwives follow guidelines laid out in AAP’s recommendations, and typically surpass those standard recommendations by having at least two NRP- and CPR-trained attendants at out-of-hospital births.

In fact, the AAP’s guidelines for the care of infants intentionally born at home parallel those standards practiced by trained midwives in all birth settings. The practices listed—such as working medical equipment, emergency plans of transfer, thorough newborn exams, and so forth—are professional standards exhibited and documented by credentialed midwives, regardless of the place of birth.

The AAP policy statement, however, did not recognize or acknowledge Certified Professional Midwives (CPM), indicating that AAP may not have a thorough understanding of the training, skills, knowledge, and abilities of this country’s primary maternity care provider for infants born out of the hospital. The Certified Professional Midwife is the only national midwifery credential that requires practitioners to be trained specifically to provide prenatal, intrapartum, and postnatal care in out-of-hospital settings. CPMs are knowledgeable, expert and independent midwifery practitioners who have met the standards for certification set by the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM). NARM is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) to issue the professional credential of Certified Professional Midwife, which is the same agency that accredits the American Midwifery Certification Board to issue the professional credentials of Certified-Nurse Midwife, and Certified Midwife.  

Midwives are the providers of choice for out-of-hospital births, whether they occur at home or in freestanding birth centers. Offered since 1994, the CPM is currently the basis for licensure in 27 states while 11 additional states are actively seeking CPM licensure. In fact, one in nine newly certified midwives in the U.S. are Certified Professional Midwives.  

The AAP policy statement endorses birth center maternity care, which is another area in which we are in agreement. Recent numbers from the American Association of Birth Centers (AABC) indicate that a significant proportion of accredited birth centers are owned and operated by Certified Professional Midwives. A January 2013 study, The National Birth Center Study II , conducted by AABC and published in the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, the official journal of the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), highlights the benefits for women who seek care at midwife-led birth centers. Findings also reinforce longstanding evidence that providers at midwife-led birth centers provide safe and effective health care for women during pregnancy, labor, birth, and the postpartum period.  

Midwives provide high-quality care that meets both national and international guidelines 

In highlighting the ethic of high-quality care for all infants across the spectrum—regardless of the site of birth—it should be noted that Certified Professional Midwives provide care intentionally similar to that of nurse-midwives and physicians. Yet we also know that CPMs are able to offer additional and valued care in terms of frequency of home visits and intense monitoring of newborns in their homes in the first weeks of life—a benefit not normally conferred to women and babies who have experienced hospital births.

This high-quality midwifery care includes routine newborn APGAR assessments, comprehensive head-to-toe physical examinations, measurements of length, head, abdomen and birth weight, monitoring vital signs including thermoregulation, assessment of respiratory sounds and patterns, assessments of cardiac sounds and peripheral pulses, assessment of gestational age and physical maturity, neuromuscular assessments, and assistance with initiation and ongoing assessment of breastfeeding. All findings are recorded in patient records and shared with mothers, per professional standards.

In addition, CPMs provide newborns with Vitamin K treatment, antibiotic eye ointment, umbilical cord care, metabolic newborn screening, glucose and bilirubin testing as indicated, and either perform Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) hearing screens or refer to area audiologists. Midwives in a number of states are moving toward, or already offering, pulse-oximetry screening for Critical Congenital Heart Defects (CCHD) per AAP guidelines, in advance of many hospital systems. In the rare cases when newborns require consultation or referral, infants are transferred to the tertiary care system, and pediatricians where available, for active management.

Not only do Certified Professional Midwives and Certified Nurse-Midwives who attend home births provide the level of care outlined by the AAP, they provide it in a personalized, woman-centered, family-centered, culturally competent, and individualized manner that is qualitatively different from the customary assembly-line postpartum care commonly experienced in U.S. hospitals.

For example, in a home birth setting, the midwife typically conducts the initial newborn exam in the presence of the mother and family, which does not disrupt the crucial process of mother-infant bonding and breastfeeding, and is focused on being instructive to the family. Midwives provide holistic care to the mother-baby dyad in concordance with World Health Organization’s Baby-Friendly best practices.

As a way of illustrating important differences in care practices, we can point to the recent Breastfeeding Report Card issued by the CDC (2012) that indicates only six percent of U.S. hospitals are offering care that aligns with the international best practices outlined by Healthy People 2020.   By contrast in a 2005 study, 95% of babies born at home under the care of Certified Professional Midwives were exclusively breastfeeding at six weeks of age (Johnson & Daviss, 2005). This is just one area where midwives are well-trained, skilled, and uniquely positioned to help families succeed.

An opportunity for collaboration and integrated care 

Physician conversations about home birth and midwife-led birth will be better informed and more useful to maternity care consumers if AAP is able to become more cognizant of important changes in the landscape of U.S. midwifery. 

The release of the AAP policy statement on care of newborns born at home is an opportunity to reinforce the need for professional and seamless collaboration with members of community health care teams. We view this statement’s release as an opportunity to align best practices for all parties who care for and support families choosing home birth.

The Midwives Alliance stands ready to work with other pediatric and maternity care providers to establish best practices in the postpartum period to not merely provide the basic level of care in the first hours, days and weeks of life for the newborn as outlined in the latest AAP statement, but to elevate that standard to include support for breastfeeding and the personal attention that can prevent infant death and improve maternal and child health.  Babies born in all settings deserve this kind of care.

About Geradine Simkins

Geradine Simkins, CNM, MSN is an activist, midwife and author. She began as a direct-entry home birth midwife in 1976 and became a nurse-midwife twenty years later. For over thirty years she has provided health care for women, infants and families in a variety of settings, including attendance at births in the home, a freestanding birth center, and hospitals. Geradine’s work with migrant farmworkers and American Indian tribes focuses on addressing health care disparities and engendering a more equitable maternity care system for all women and infants.  Geradine is currently the Executive Director of Midwives Alliance of North America, a professional organization that promotes excellence in midwifery and is dedicated to unifying and strengthening the profession, thereby increasing access to quality health care and improving outcomes for women, babies and their families. She is the editor of the recently published book entitled Into These Hands: Wisdom from Midwives, an anthology of the life stories of 25 remarkable women who have dedicated their lives and careers to the path of midwifery and social change.  More info about Geraldine Simkins can be found here.

ACOG, American Academy of Pediatrics, Babies, Delayed Cord Clamping, Home Birth, informed Consent, Maternity Care, Midwifery, Transforming Maternity Care , , , , , , , , , ,

The Quiet Underground is Quiet No More. Extended Breastfeeding is Officially Out of the Closet.

November 27th, 2012 by avatar

My first reaction to the now-infamous Time magazine cover was to groan out loud. Like many of you, I was horrified by that cover’s mean-spirited tone. If we didn’t get the message from the picture, there was also the antagonistic caption: “Are you mom enough?” It wasn’t until later that I recognized that this cover, and the controversy that followed, actually reflected a positive shift. Many things had changed since I first became aware of this topic more than 20 years ago.

In 1992, I was just finishing my post-doctoral fellowship at the University of New Hampshire and was expecting my second baby.  My first experience had gone not particularly well, so I spent months educating myself about birth, breastfeeding, and postpartum. During this time, I became friends with Dr. Muriel Sugarman. We were both on the board of a local child abuse organization in Massachusetts. Muriel was a child psychiatrist at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital and an amazing ally to the breastfeeding community. She was interested in long-term breastfeeding and had collected some data. (“Long-term” was operationally defined for that study as “six months or longer.”)  We started working on it together, and bit by bit, had some findings to report.

We submitted one of our first articles on weaning ages to [a well-known journal in pediatrics].  Consistent with studies in other parts of the world, when weaning was child led, it tended to occur at ages 2.5 to 3. So far, so good.

But then there were our outliers….the babies who weaned at age 5…and a couple of babies were even older. The reviewers, all women we later learned, went completely nuts. If it had been up to them, we would have been both rejected…and flogged. (Eighteen years later, these are still the worst reviews I’ve ever received.) They hated us, our study, and mostly definitely our “weird” mothers.

I wasn’t sure what to do next, until a colleague handed me an article called, “Darwin takes on mainstream medicine.” It described how extended breastfeeding, babywearing, and cosleeping  conferred a survival advantage for moms and babies, and was presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meetings. That was radical stuff in the mid-1990s. I sacked our introduction and rewrote it using this framework.

The next question was where to send the revised manuscript. I called a pediatric researcher I knew in Philadelphia. He said, “Oh, I never send articles to [well-known pediatric journal]. They’re mean!” That had certainly been my experience. He recommended Clinical Pediatrics, where we got a much more positive reception. The article came out. We were happy. End of story….or so we thought.

In 1997, AAP Statement on Breastfeeding was released. Controversy swirled around that statement for months about one bit in particular: that women breastfeed for at least 12 months and “as long thereafter as is mutually desired.” I was going about my business, blithely unaware that Muriel and I were smack in the middle of the controversy. What reference did the AAP cite to support “as long thereafter as is mutually desired”? You’ve got it: Sugarman and Kendall-Tackett (1995)!

That paper taught me a lot. Ten years later, when I applied for APA Fellow, I identified it as one of the most important in my career. I learned firsthand about the intense negative stigma surrounding extended breastfeeding. I was equally amazed to discover a quiet underground of women who were defying cultural norms and nursing their older babies right under the radar of family, friends, and healthcare providers. Avery described this phenomenon as “closet nursing,” and noted that extended breastfeeding had a lot in common with revealing sexual orientation. Brave souls who chose to be up front faced marginalization—or worse.

Through much of the decade that followed publication of our article, Muriel and I, along with Liz Baldwin and Kathy Dettwyler, frequently had to write letters to courts and child protection agencies on behalf of mothers who were being investigated for child abuse. Their crime? Extended breastfeeding.

Which brings us up to the present time. Yes, the Time magazine article said mean things. But look at it this way: extended breastfeeding is being discussed in a mainstream publication. In addition, thanks to social media, the “quiet underground” is quiet no more. I’ve been amazed at outpouring of support from both celebrities—and ordinary moms—speaking opening and positively about extended breastfeeding. It was something I couldn’t even imagine in 1995. I think it’s safe to say that extended breastfeeding is officially out of the closet.

In closing, I’d like to suggest that we all owe a debt of gratitude to Drs. Ruth Lawrence and Larry Gartner, and the other brave members of the 1997 AAP Committee on Breastfeeding. Their statement did much to move extended breastfeeding out of the margins and into the public square (and Muriel and I were happy to have a small part in that). We still have a ways to go. But let’s take a moment and savor this small victory.

And to the members of the 1997 AAP Committee, I say this: We, the quiet underground, salute you!

The two articles published from that data set are:

Kendall-Tackett, K.A., & Sugarman, M. (1995). The social consequences of long-term breastfeeding.  Journal of Human Lactation, 11, 179-183.

Sugarman, M., & Kendall-Tackett, K.A. (1995). Weaning ages in a sample of American women who practice extended nursing. Clinical Pediatrics, 34(12), 642-647.

 About Kathleen Kendall-Tackett

Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Ph.D., IBCLC, FAPA is a health psychologist and board-certified lactation consultant. Dr. Kendall-Tackett is Owner and Editor-in-Chief of Praeclarus Press, a new small press specializing in women’s health. She is a research associate at the Crimes against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire and a clinical associate professor of pediatrics at Texas Tech University School of Medicine in Amarillo, Texas. She is Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Clinical Lactation, a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, and is president-elect of the APA Division of Trauma Psychology. www.KathleenKendall-Tackett.com

 

American Academy of Pediatrics, Breastfeeding, Guest Posts, Research , , , , , , , ,

“Should We Private Bank Our Baby’s Cord Blood?” Information That Can Help You Answer That Question

September 21st, 2012 by avatar

www.flickr.com/photos/lovemybunnies/4740682244/

I was recently asked my thoughts on private cord blood banking by a couple expecting their first child.  This was something that they were considering and wanted to know what information was out there.  I had read various articles and commentaries on private cord blood banking in recent years, but I viewed this as an opportunity to refresh my knowledge before I provided an answer to them.  I wanted to share this information with Science & Sensibility readers, so that you may use it with your classes, clients and patients as well, if you wish.

Kimmelin Hull wrote a very comprehensive post on Science and Sensibility in April, 2011, discussing “Should we, or should we not retrieve Umbilical Cord blood at all?” along with providing information on delayed cord clamping current research, and referring readers to a fantastic Journal of Perinatal Education article, Umbilical Cord Blood: Information for Childbirth Educators, written by Renece Waller-Wise, MSN, CNS, CLC, CNL, LCCE.  Kimmelin Hull’s post and Renece Waller-Wise’s JPE article were great places for me to start my exploration to be able to answer this couple.

Today’s post is not about the benefits and/or risks of delayed cord clamping.  Information on that topic has been provided previously on this site.  What I was really looking for was more information on the likelihood that private banked cord blood might be used for that child or other relatives in the future.

Research indicates that pregnant women frequently do not have adequate information to make an informed decision about cord blood banking. (Fox, et al, 2007).   Additionally, the information sources for childbirth birth educators are frequently the private blood banks or their designated representatives, adding in the potential for bias. (Cord Blood Registry, 2009; Wolf, 1998, 1999) Interestingly, in the state of Washington, where I live, the state requires practitioners to provide information on cord blood donation and banking. (but not on delayed clamping.)

Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 70.54.220  All persons licensed or certified by the state of Washington to provide prenatal care or to practice medicine shall provide information to all pregnant women in their care regarding:

(1) The use and availability of prenatal tests; and

(2) Using objective and standardized information: (a) The differences between and potential benefits and risks involved in public and private cord blood banking that is sufficient to allow a pregnant woman to make an informed decision before her third trimester of pregnancy on whether to participate in a private or public cord blood banking program; and (b) the opportunity to donate, to a public cord blood bank, blood and tissue extracted from the placenta and umbilical cord following delivery of a newborn child.

Nationwide, 26 states have legislation on providing cord blood information. This legislation is intended to guide health care providers and inform parents about their options concerning donation and banking.  You can access this information on a state by state basis here. In Washington, exactly what information should be provided is not spelled out.

Stem cells are available from a variety of sources, but umbilical cord stem cells are the easiest to collect, collection is painless, and according to studies can be done before or after the placenta is delivered. (Gonzalez-Ryan, VanSyckle, Coyne, & Glover, 2000; Percer, 2009). The stem cells are quickly available to be used. But, according to one study, approximately 50% of all cord blood collection samples contain an insufficient volume of blood.  (Drew, 2005).

Private cord blood banking is often marketed as “biological insurance” for potential problems with that child in the future. “Autologous transplant” is where the cord blood is given back to the child it was taken from.  The chance that a child will need its own cord blood is extremely small; a 1:400 to a 1:200,000 chance over the child’s lifetime (Sullivan, 2008). In the case of some illnesses, it would be unwise to transfer the same cord blood cells as they are considered “contaminated” with the very disease that is hoping to be cured.

There is not a lot of research on the period of time that a collected cord blood sample would be viable after storage, and no research on viability over the course of the average human lifespan.

Private cord blood banking is not without significant expense and cost.  Collection and initial processing can run approximately $3000, and then there is an annual fee that can run several hundred dollars for storage each year after that.

Private cord banking services are not regulated, either on the federal level or by the state, so without oversight, regulations and a quality assurance program managed by a third party, consumers may find themselves dealing with programs that could not be financially viable over the long term or may not be handling or storing stem cell products appropriately.

What do various organizations say about private cord blood banking?

 American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)

ACOG has a statement on Umbilical Cord Blood Banking and in their recommendations and conclusions they state:

  • If a patient requests information on umbilical cord banking, balanced and accurate information regarding the advantages and disadvantages of public versus private umbilical cord blood banking should be provided. The remote chance of an autologous unit being used for a child or a family member (approximately 1 in 2,700 individuals) should be disclosed.
  • Discussion may include information regarding maternal infectious disease and genetic testing, the ultimate outcome of use of poor quality units of umbilical cord blood, and a disclosure that demographic data will be maintained on the patient.
  • Some states have passed legislation requiring physicians to inform their patients about umbilical cord blood banking options. Clinicians should consult their state medical associations for more information regarding state laws.
  • Directed donation of umbilical cord blood should be considered when there is a specific diagnosis of a disease known to be treatable by hematopoietic transplant for an immediate family member.
  • Obstetric providers are not obligated to obtain consent for private umbilical cord blood banking.
  • The collection should not alter routine practice for the timing of umbilical cord clamping.
  • Physicians or other professionals who recruit pregnant women and their families for for-profit umbilical cord blood banking should disclose any financial interests or other potential conflicts of interest.

American Academy of Pediatrics

The American Academy of Pediatrics also has a policy statement out on cord blood banking.  Their recommendations are similiar to ACOG.

  • Cord blood donation should be discouraged when cord blood stored in a bank is to be directed for later personal or family use, because most conditions that might be helped by cord blood stem cells already exist in the infant’s cord blood (ie, premalignant changes in stem cells). Physicians should be aware of the unsubstantiated claims of private cord blood banks made to future parents that promise to insure infants or family members against serious illnesses in the future by use of the stem cells contained in cord blood. Although not standard of care, directed cord blood banking should be encouraged when there is knowledge of a full sibling in the family with a medical condition (malignant or genetic) that could potentially benefit from cord blood transplantation.
  • Cord blood donation should be encouraged when the cord blood is stored in a bank for public use. Parents should recognize that genetic (eg, chromosomal abnormalities) and infectious disease testing is performed on the cord blood and that if abnormalities are identified, they will be notified. Parents should also be informed that the cord blood banked in a public program may not be accessible for future private use.
  • Because there are no scientific data at the present time to support autologous cord blood banking and given the difficulty of making an accurate estimate of the need for autologous transplantation and the ready availability of allogeneic transplantation, private storage of cord blood as “biological insurance” should be discouraged. Cord blood banks should comply with national accreditation standards developed by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT), the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Federal Trade Commission, and similar state agencies.
Online Resources on Cord Blood Banking to Share with FamiliesParents Guide to Cord Blood Foundation

American College of Nurse–Midwives—“Cord Blood Banking—What It’s All About” (from 2008 Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health53[2], 161–162)

National Marrow Donor Program—“Cord Blood Donation: Frequently Asked Questions”

compiled by Renece Waller-Wise

I will provide this information to the family who asked me.  I will encourage them to talk to their doctor or midwife, and determine if it is appropriate for them to consult with a genetic counselor, to address family history and other information that may make it more likely for this child or another family member to need collected cord blood.

I would also provide information on the timing of umbilical cord clamping and suggest they discuss with knowledgable providers and the potential bank, the likelihood of an adequate collection when cord clamping is delayed.

After receiving this information from a variety of sources, I trust the parents will be able to make a decision that feels appropriate to them and I will feel that I have provided evidenced based sources that they found useful in their decision-making process.

How do you answer the question “Should we private bank our baby’s cord blood?” What do you say?  What have been your favorite resources on this topic?  Please share information that you feel we can all benefit from.  I welcome your discussion.

References

American Academy of Pediatrics:Policy Statement: Cord blood banking for potential future transplantation.  PEDIATRICS Vol. 119 No. 1 January 1, 2007 pp. 165 -170 (doi: 10.1542/peds.2006-2901)

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2008) Umbilical Cord Blood Banking. ACOG Committee Opinion No. 399. Obstet Gynecol 2008;111:475–7.

Cord Blood Registry. (2009). Cord blood spotlight: Childbirth educator’s guide, 1(2), 1–4.

Drew, D. (2005). Umbilical cord blood banking: A rich source of stem cells for transplant. Advance for Nurse Practitioners, 13(Suppl. 4), S2–S7.

Fox, N. S., Stevens, C., Cuibotariu, R., Rubinstein, P., McCullough, L. B., & Chervenak, F. A. (2007). Umbilical cord blood collection: Do patients really understand? Journal of Perinatal Medicine, 35, 314–321.

Gonzalez-Ryan, L., VanSyckle, K., Coyne, K. D., & Glover, N. (2000). Umbilical cord blood banking: Procedural and ethical concerns for this new birth option. Pediatric Nursing, 26(1), 105–110.

Percer, B. (2009). Umbilical cord blood banking: Helping parents make informed choices. Nursing for Women’s Health, 13(3), 216–223

Sullivan, M. J. (2008). Banking on cord blood stem cells. Nature Reviews Cancer, 8, 554–563

Waller-Wise, Renece. (2011) Umbilical cord blood: information for childbirth educators. Journal of Perinatal Education, 20(1), 54–60, doi: 10.1891/1058-1243.20.1.54

Washington State Legislature, Revised Code of Washington 70.54.220 Practitioners to provide information on prenatal testing and cord blood banking. http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=70.54.220  Accessed September 21, 2012.

Wolf, S. (1998). Cord blood banking: A promising new technology. Neonatal Network, 17(4), 5–6.Wolf, S. (1999). Storing lifeblood: Cord blood stem cell banking. American Journal of Nursing, 99(8), 60–68.

 

Babies, Childbirth Education, Delayed Cord Clamping, Evidence Based Medicine, Healthy Birth Practices, Healthy Care Practices, informed Consent, Journal of Perinatal Education, Newborns, Research, Third Stage, Uncategorized , , , , , , , , , ,