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The Boston Globe

Health & wellness

Water births come under fire

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and his wife Gisele Bundchen with their son Benjamin Brady in August.

Charles Krupa/AP

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and his wife Gisele Bundchen with their son Benjamin Brady in August.

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Gisele Bundchen delivered her and Tom Brady’s son, Benjamin, at home three years ago while submerged in a water bath. She said in media interviews that the drug-free birth didn’t hurt at all. Actresses Jennifer Connelly and Pamela Anderson also swear by home water births. But two prominent physician groups issued a new recommendation on Thursday advising against the practice, except in very controlled conditions.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists concluded that soaking in a tub of water during the early part of labor can reduce a woman’s pain and might shorten labor and the need for an epidural or other painkillers. But the two groups frowned on women staying submerged during the final pushing stage of labor because the “safety and efficacy” of delivering a baby into a pool of water “have not been established.”

The committee of pediatricians and obstetricians pointed to a list of worries doctors have about underwater deliveries, including the possibility of infections in both mother and baby from contaminated water, a dangerous rise in the baby’s temperature from hot water, umbilical cord rupture after delivery that triggers shock or breathing problems in the baby — or even the rare possibility of drowning. D.K.

Deborah Kotz can be reached at dkotz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @debkotz2.

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