In light of current societal and professional concerns regarding the medicalisation of childbirth and an apparent clinical culture of anxiety and fear of litigation, emerging evidence emphasises the importance of promoting normality within clinical practice, and the need for individualised, client-centred choice and control. This article examines the use of water immersion as a facilitator of normal labour and birth. In defining the concept of normality, the article discusses the advantages of water immersion in decreasing maternal pain and use of other analgesics, critically increasing maternal control and satisfaction, and limiting medicalised intervention need. Furthermore, supporting the physiological advantages of relaxation and maternal movement linked to the use of water in labour, water immersion promotes improved fetal position and enhanced labour progress. Importantly however, the article further identifies current hindering factors to facilitating water immersion implementation, critically the current lack of sound methodological evidence and research rigor regarding potential adverse neonatal outcomes. It concludes, despite obvious promotion of normality in childbirth, that further robust qualitative and quantitative research is needed to clarify the overall appropriateness of this practice. This would help practitioners to decide if this method is safe and be more informed of the risks and benefits before recommending it to women.
Keywords: Normality, Non-medicalisation, Pain relief, Satisfaction, Control, Empowering.
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