Birthing in Water? How Hot Tubs Can be Particularly Dangerous

Birthing in Water? How Hot Tubs Can be Particularly Dangerous

Hot tubs and pools can expose babies to bacteria they can’t yet fight against.

Giving birth- there are so many ways to do it, with essentially the same end result: a wonderful new baby in your arms. If you’re planning on having it all happen in water- and especially warm water- there are some precautions you’re going to want to take, though. A new story in the news highlights why.

A Canadian broadcaster just reported the case of a newborn girl who was born in a hot tub, and who  then developed a life-threatening infection as a result. She spent here first 5 weeks in the world on a ventilator, after she suffered multiple organ failure just days after she was born.

Growing Bacteria

Why did it happen? Her mom gave birth in a hot tub. Under the watchful eye of a mid-wife, the baby’s mother filled her hot tub with water 3 days before her child was born. Little did anyone know that the warm, inviting water would pass on legionella to the newborn baby.

Legionella is a bacterium that grows in warmer temperatures between 20°C and 42°C and
reports indicate that it’s normally found in warm pools and hot springs.

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In this case, it seems the birthing tub was not adequately cleaned out in preparation for the birth, and the warm water was allowed to sit for a while before the big day, creating the perfect stage for the bad bacteria to multiply.

“Our case serves to highlight a severe and potentially fatal adverse neonatal outcome of underwater birth, especially when prefilled heated pools are used,” Dr. Michelle Barton wrote in a report about the case, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Newborn babies are exposed to antibodies in their mother’s breast milk, but do not begin to develop their own immune system until around 2 to 3 months of age.

Photo credits: Lemau Studio/

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