Whether you are planning to give birth to your baby at home, in a Birth Centre/Midwife Led Unit (MLU), or indeed in your local hospital, you may like to consider using a birth pool. They are now widely available and the relaxing effects of the warm water can make a huge difference in reducing discomfort and helping you to achieve a drug-free labour and birth.
Here are my top 5 reasons to consider using a birth pool!
1. Comfort - Birthing in a pool is the perfect environment in which to use your Hypnobirthing techniques. Women who labour in water are far less likely to use medical pain relief - with or without Hypnobirthing.
2. Cocooned personal space – Whether at home or in a maternity unit, the pool provides a warm personal space, this reduces stress and anxiety, which in turn lessens the perception of pain and gives you confidence in your own ability to give birth. It’s like having your own personal nest.
3. Supports your weight – Many women use the pool only once their labour is reasonably advanced, this can give immediate relief to your surges, as it is so much easier to change positions when buoyant. If you choose to stay in the pool to give birth, then the water makes it easier for you to stay upright, helping your pelvis to open up so your baby can pass through.
4. Reduced risk of tearing - The water softens the tissues of your perineum making them more supple and able to stretch to accommodate your baby’s head as it passes through.
5. It feels good! - Relaxing in warm water stimulates your body to produce pain-relieving endorphins. If you like a soak in a bath, then this might just be for you! In fact, getting into the pool is so relaxing that it can often speed up labour.
Many women spend time in the birth pool during labour but get out just before the birth, whilst others once in, stay in, and give birth in the water. The choice is yours and if you find you don’t like it when the time comes, just get out! Don’t feel obliged to stay in the pool, just because it is there. Be prepared to get in and out, as advised by your midwife - and be guided by how you feel.
Many experts believe that being born into warm water eases your baby’s transition to the outside world, but equally the benefits to you for a calm, comfortable birthing experience, would have the same beneficial outcome for your baby.
Is it safe for me and my baby?
For healthy women with straightforward low-risk pregnancies, a water birth is considered just as safe as giving birth on dry land. Your midwife will monitor you and your baby whilst you are in the water, and may ask you to get out if she has any concerns. If you give birth in the water you will probably be asked to get out after the expulsion of the placenta as there’s a very slight risk you could bleed at this stage and it is easier for the midwife to monitor this out of the water.
It is important to maintain the correct water temperature (37C) throughout, and to stay warm when you are out of the water - your midwife and birth partner will support you with this.
A common concern is that your baby might inhale water during the birth, but all the evidence indicates that this does not happen. After all, your baby has been in fluid for the last nine months without drowning, so why should it start now. It is the shock of the air in the baby’s lungs after birth which stimulates it to take its first breath, and then it continues to breathe normally. When your baby is born under water s/he is still attached to you by his/her umbilical cord and continues to receive oxygen through it. S/he will not take his/her first breath until s/he is brought to the surface of the water. Either you or your husband or partner can receive your baby in the water and put them in your arms. There is plenty of time.
How do I plan a water birth?
If you are considering a home birth, birth pools are available to buy or to hire from a range on online companies. One such company, which has been used by a number of my clients and which is reviewed as being particularly user-friendly by midwives, is Birth Pool In A Box. You can also pick up second hand birth pools online, I saw one for sale on eBay recently for £50. You would just need to ensure that you give it a good clean and purchase a new liner, which is relatively inexpensive. It is also worth contacting your local birth centre, as some will hire birth pools for a nominal fee.
For more information on planning a water birth at home, visit the HomeBirth website.
Most MLUs have birthing pools available to use. The Barkentine has a pool in every room. Availability is slightly harder to guarantee if you give birth in a hospital. Therefore, if the use of a birth pool is central to your plans, then make sure this is clearly written in your birth plan and tell your midwife when you arrive.
Who can’t have a water birth?
Of course there will be circumstances that make a water birth inappropriate, such as special circumstances in your pregnancy, which is why it is important to take advice from your midwife in the period leading up to your due date. You might also find that a pool is not available or ready at the very moment you need it. Plan to use a birth pool if you like the idea, but don’t get anxious or stressed if circumstances remove the option from your best laid plans! I always suggest that my clients make a Plan A, B and C - just in case.
If you'd like to know more, then please get in touch.
All the love,
Your body, your baby, your birth
Helen Wright: Double Mama to two gorgeous little humans; Positive Birth Coach and Postnatal Revival Expert, is on a mission to support parents achieve the right births for them and their babies and help them to thrive in the precious postnatal period and beyond.
Helen is an experienced KG Hypnobirthing Teacher, Positive Birth Coach and Creative Genius behind BirthWright Affirmation Cards; she's also a Certified Placenta Remedies Specialist with the Placenta Remedies Network, a Registered Breastfeeding Helper with the Breastfeeding Network and she co-hosts a monthly Family Meet Up & Support Group in the East End of London where she lives.For more info visit: www.BirthWright.co.uk and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.