Women are often attracted to water during labour in the same way that they take a bath if they have menstrual pain or backache or feel stressed. If you would like a water birth consider hiring a birthing pool, either to use at home or to take to the maternity unit if it does not have one already. Remember that hospital birthing facilities are subject to availability, that is, on a first come, first served basis.
The use of water during labour can have many benefits. Studies have shown that it helps you to relax, which in turn reduces pain and the need for analgesia. Being in a room with a pool is often more relaxed and less clinical, and you may find that you get one-to-one care with the midwife, which also helps you to cope. If necessary, you can still use gas and air in a pool, although you cannot use any other form of pain relief.
Not all women would be encouraged to use a birthing pool but, if you are considered low risk and have good midwifery care, it carries no more risks than a conventional birth. Even if you do not fancy the idea of giving birth while in the water, it is worth trying the pool just for labour and then getting out for the delivery - if you feel up to moving by then.
Things to consider
There are certain considerations when giving birth in a birthing pool.
- It is important to be in established labour when you get into the pool and, ideally, your cervix should be at least 5 cm dilated. Getting into the pool too early in labour can actually slow down your contractions.
- Drink plenty of water while you are in the pool. It is important not to become dehydrated or overheated while you are in there.
- If your labour slows down, get out and move.around. You can always get in again later.
- Even in a pool, you may still need encouragement to change position. You could try getting on all fours, leaning over the side of the pool or squatting.
|Your baby will breathe when given the right stimulation. When she is exposed to air, the change in temperature and the hands on her body trigger her breathing, so the water in the pool must be kept at 37°C while your baby is born and the birth must be 'hands off. The midwife will allow your baby to emerge into the water and then one of you can gently guide her to the surface, where she will take her first breath.|
|Some women are happy to strip off completely in the pool, while others prefer to keep something on. A top that does not 'balloon' in the water is most practical. Women never really know how thev are going to react until their labour, but midwives are happy to go along with whatever you find comfortable.|
|If you decide to deliver the placenta naturally then there is no reason whv you should not stav in the pool. However, if you want to have an injection of an oxytocic drug, the injection should not be given under the water.|