Waterbirth and GBS

Midwifery Today Int Midwife. 2010-2011 Winter;(96):9-10.


The literature provides a single case of early onset newborn Group B Strep (GBS) among 4432 waterbirths, suggesting that low-risk women who give birth in water may have a far lower rate of newborn GBS than women who have a dry birth. The last reported rate of newborn GBS for dry births was 1 in 1450. Several theories for this phenomenon are suggested in this article: (1) inoculating the baby with mother's intestinal flora at birth protects against GBS infection; (2) water washes off the GBS bacteria acquired during the descent through the vagina; (3) the water dilutes the GBS bacteria and mixes it with a multitude of other intestinal bacteria that compete with GBS; (4) early onset GBS is elicited by complications and interventions at birth, which occur less often at water-births; (5) kangaroo care at birth promotes healthy newborns; (6) GBS and antibiotic-resistant GBS are more prevalent in hospital environments, where waterbirths are not an option; (7) a higher rate of underreporting of adverse events at waterbirths compared to dry births; and/or (8) a massively successful international campaign has covered up the reporting of all deaths and disease from GBS after waterbirths.

MeSH terms

  • Baths / methods*
  • Baths / nursing
  • Female
  • Home Childbirth / methods*
  • Home Childbirth / nursing
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control*
  • Midwifery / methods
  • Natural Childbirth / methods*
  • Natural Childbirth / nursing
  • Pregnancy
  • Streptococcal Infections / nursing
  • Streptococcal Infections / prevention & control*
  • Water
  • Water Microbiology*


  • Water