Type of publication:
*Dimitrios Papoutsis, Angeliki Antonakou, *Adam Gornall, and Chara Tzavara
Journal of Women’s Health; Sep 2020 [epub ahead of print]
Background: To determine the incidence of and predictors for obstetric anal sphincter injuries (OASIS) and intact perineum in women giving birth in the water and compare with the general obstetric population.
Materials and Methods: Data were retrospectively collected for women who had singleton cephalic presentation vaginal births in the water and the general obstetric population between August 2007 and December 2017.
Results: We identified 1,007 women who had a waterbirth and 36,924 women from the general obstetric population. There was no significant difference in the incidence of OASIS between waterbirths and the general obstetric population (2.3% vs. 2.0%). Having a waterbirth was associated with a lower probability for an intact perineum (odds ratio [OR] = 0.83; confidence interval [95% CI]: 0.73–0.94) when compared with the general obstetric population (44.7% vs. 51.3%). Nulliparous women with a waterbirth when compared with multiparous women had an eightfold higher likelihood for the occurrence of OASIS (OR = 8.28; 95% CI: 2.64–25.86). The risk for a higher degree of OASIS was associated with increased maternal age in the total sample (OR = 1.08; 95% CI: 1.06–1.11) and with a lower body mass index (BMI) at booking in multiparous women (OR = 0.96; 95% CI: 0.92–0.99). The risk for any type of perineal trauma was associated with increased maternal age in the total sample (OR = 1.10; 95% CI: 1.07–1.13) and with a lower BMI at booking in multiparous women (OR = 0.95; 95% CI: 0.91–0.99).
Conclusions: We found that giving birth in the water reduced the chance of having an intact perineum. We have also shown that nulliparity, increased maternal age in all women, and a lower BMI at booking in multiparous were associated with OASIS and lower rates of intact perineum in waterbirths.