New Study: How Does WATER BIRTH Impact A Baby’s Skin Microbiome?

Toni Harman
12 min readNov 20, 2023

New research reveals surprising findings on how WATER BIRTH (and other modes of birth) affect the development of a baby’s skin microbiome. This is important info for all parents and maternity health professionals to know!

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New Study: How does waterbirth impact a baby’s skin microbiome?
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Water birth has many clear benefits for healthy mums and their babies.

A review published in the BMJ by Burns E. et al., (2022) included 36 studies published between 2000 and 2021 involving 157,546 women.

The review showed water birth was associated with fewer interventions and fewer complications during and after the birth, compared to giving birth “on land”, as well as greater satisfaction for the mum.

The 2022 BMJ review found water birth:

  • Significantly reduced the need for epidurals
  • Reduced the need for injected opioids
  • Reduced rates of episiotomy
  • Increased the likelihood of an intact perineum
  • Increased the mum’s satisfaction levels
  • Plus provided pain relief during labour.
  • And water birth made no difference to the rate of C-sections.

But what about the impact of water birth on the baby’s microbiome?

In other words, does being born in water affect the founding of a baby’s bacterial ecosystem?

Well, the answer to this is much less clear due to a lack of research on this important topic.

NOTE: If you are looking for a possible PhD subject to study — the impact of water birth on the infant microbiome would be of HUGE interest to a global community of midwives, doulas, childbirth educators, doctors, nurses, lactation professionals and the many thousands of parents each year who choose to give birth in water!

The following blog-article discusses recent research into the impact of water birth on the infant gut microbiome, and also, new research by Rapin et al. (2023), published in the journal Allergy, on how water birth (and other modes of birth) impact the development…



Toni Harman

I help parents and health professionals better understand the science of pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and the microbiome.