When a procedure goes wrong, getting a straight answer from a doctor or hospital can be difficult.

For example, many hospitals have their own counsel and carry liability insurance, as a precaution against medical malpractice lawsuits. To avoid admitting liability, a hospital may be uncooperative with a patient’s requests for information. Hospitals may also attempt to avoid a lawsuit offering a confidential settlement. An injured patient, unfamiliar with the court system, may be intimidated into accepting such an offer, even if it is not in his or her best interest.

An application of this institutional defensiveness is seen in the context of aquatic labor. Some obstetricians and doctors have questioned the safety of this practice. Yet evidence does suggest that water birthing is as safe as more traditional deliveries in hospitals, provided established guidelines are followed.

Specifically, a study involving 12 randomized controlled trials of 3,243 women found no resulting harm. An ongoing study of 1,200 women who birthed or labored in water also confirms that the practice is safe. There are differences in the procedure, however. In a water birth, the baby must be brought to the surface immediately, and the attending nurse must take the precaution of ensuring that the umbilical cord is long enough for lifting the baby.

If a birth injury did occur during labor or delivery, a patient may be unaware that medical negligence may have played a role in the incident. Regardless of the birthing method, it can be hard to investigate whether a birth injury could have been prevented. Fortunately, an attorney that specializes in medical malpractice litigation may have tactics for investigating and gathering evidence of what really happened.

Source: NPR, “Doctors Say Don’t Give Birth To Baby In A Tub, But Midwives Disagree,” Nancy Shute, March 23, 2014