Research shows that women who labour in water often have shorter labours. Many women find that the water itself is enough to help them through contractions and they don't need other forms of pain relief. You're less likely to need a forceps or ventouse delivery if you spend some of your labour in water and some studies show you're less likely to tear.
"I am sure the water helped both for relieving pain and avoiding the need for stitches." (Sarah, aged 26, Blackpool)
• The warm water helps you relax
• and makes you buoyant so that you can easily change position
• and gives a sense of privacy and control.
Remember that you don't have to give birth in the pool. You can use it just for the first part of labour, and then get out when you want to push. Most midwives prefer you to deliver the placenta 'on dry land'.
You might worry that your baby will breathe in water if she is born in the pool. Most authorities agree that the baby will not start to breathe until she comes into contact with air. It's important to bring the baby to the surface of the water as soon as she is born.
Some time ago, there were fears about the temperature of the water in the pool affecting babies adversely. However, there's no sound evidence that this has ever been a problem. The best advice is to keep the water between 35 and 37 degrees C.
• find out how likely it is that the pool will be available when you want it (and a midwife experienced in delivering babies this way)
• check out hospital policies on pool-use.
• take advice from your midwife or a member of the local NCT or the Active Birth Centre on who to hire from
• practise putting the pool together, filling it and using it BEFORE you go into labour!
More information about hiring a waterbirth pool can be obtained from:
Splashdown: 020 8422 9308.
The Active Birth Centre: 020 7482 5554
Elsie Inglis Birth Pool: 0131 229 6259