Recently a discussion about the safety of water birth popped up in another thread. The discussion revolved around whether birthing in water is safe for the baby. It seems that most of the information out there is not peer reviewed as there have not been any large scale studies done. I would like to continue the discussion outside of that thread since we were hijacking the OP's original question. For those of you that posted in that thread, please feel free to re-post your information here so that it's all in one place.
I birthed my first in water and felt that it was a safe experience. Water birth has been deemed safe by several hospitals and most birth centers. I have talked with many midwives about water birth and all agree that it is safe. But, I I was recently challenged to find actual scientific, peer reviewed support for this belief. I have come across a few sites and resources that may be of interest and I would love to see what other information is out there. So please post your opinions and your resources.
BMJ Article comparing perinatal mortality rates of waterbirth vs. birth outside of water. Conclusion was there is no significant difference: http://www.bmj.com/content/319/7208/483.abstract
2009 Cochrane Report. Conclusion was that of the trials they compared there was no evidence of adverse effects on the neonate, but more research needs to be done: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/o/cochrane/clsysrev/articles/CD000111/frame.html
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologiest's joint statement with the College of Midwives. They support a woman's right to choose to birth in water: http://www.rcog.org.uk/womens-health/clinical-guidance/immersion-water-during-labour-and-birth
Overview of water birth research by Baby Centre, which includes numerous references: http://www.babycentre.co.uk/pregnancy/labourandbirth/waterbirth/whatresearchsays/
The often cited Barbara Harper, RN article from Midwifery Today Magazine that explains why water birth is not dangerous and includes references to studies: http://www.activebirthpools.com/articles/Midwifery%20Guidelines%20and%20Research/Waterbirth%20Basics%20From%20Newborn%20Breathing%20to%20Hospital%20Protocols%20by%20Barbara%20Harper,%20RN.pdf