Many health care facilities today have a birth pool on the delivery suite where healthy women with an uncomplicated, single pregnancy can relax during labour and exit for the birth of their baby, or remain and give birth in the pool with the assistance of a midwife. The use of water for labour and birth has been used since ancient times to provide an alternative option for mobility, privacy, and comfort. However, some women still have certain concerns about the entire process. Here are responses for a few commonly asked questions about birth pools.
Q. Why should I use a birthing pool?
A. For over 1,000 years, labouring in water has been used to shorten the length of child birth. This is mostly attributed to the relaxing quality of water, which reduces your reliance on pain relieving drugs. As with any situation where you seek relaxation and comfort, a warm bath can prove to be invaluable. Relaxation increases the likelihood of a normal birth. In addition, women who have used birth pools before claim that they had a pleasant overall childbirth experience.
Q. Are there risks to using a water birth?
A. As with everything else in life, there have a few serious incidents reported from giving birth in water, such as water inhalation and near drowning. While these incidents are very rare, and they don’t result in death, it is important to think of their occurrence as a means to help you make a more informed choice.
Q. How do you avoid risks when using a watering birth?
A. Before any woman is allowed to use a birth pool, she must be screened for risk factors in order to determine her suitability. Both the mother and the baby are closely monitored by a midwife during the process. If the midwife has any concerns, the mother will be informed and asked to get out of the pool.
Q. What are the conditions for using the pool?
A. There are several of them, including:
- You must be healthy, have an uncomplicated pregnancy, and be at term (37 – 42 weeks).
- When sitting in the pool, the water level should be at your breasts.
- The water should be clean and comfortably warm (below 37.5 degrees Celsius) and have no additives.
- You are allowed to leave the pool at any time you wish.
- You are encouraged to leave the pool at regular two-hour intervals to use the lavatory.
Q. What should I wear?
A. Many women prefer to birth naked in the pool, though you may wear something that makes you feel more comfortable, like a bikini top, bra, or t-shirt. You need to do what feels right to you.
Q. Should I use a towel from home?
A. It is recommended that you pack a bathrobe and extra towels so that you don’t get cold as you get in and out of the pool during labour.
Q. When do I get into the pool?
A. The best time to get into the pool is when you start having fairly strong regular contractions. Your midwife should also diagnose labour.
Q. When do I leave the pool?
A. Women have varying urges to get in and out of the pool, so you can leave whenever you feel like it: to refresh the water, use the bathroom, eat or drink, reposition, or when your midwife expresses concerns about you or your baby’s well-being.
To enhance your birth pool and birthing experience, you may consider listening to music, deep breathing, having a massage, or using hypno-birthing techniques.