Giving birth in water

Whether you intend to actually give birth in water, or simply use water to help relieve the pain of contractions in the initial stages of labour; the use of a birthing pool can be highly empowering and is a very effective method of natural pain relief for labour. Nowadays, the majority of maternity units have birthing pools available but it is also an option if you are considering a home birth as birthing pools can be easily and affordably rented or bought.

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Why give birth in water?

Submerging yourself in warm water isn’t just relaxing (leading to deeper breathing, a greater sense of control and more effective contractions) but it can also take the edge off painful contractions. A 2009 study by Cluett and Burns also found a reduced need for epidurals as pain relief when a birthing pool was used.

Many women find that a birthing pool gives them a sense of privacy and a space in which they can fully relax and focus on listening to their body. Birthing pools are big enough to accommodate birthing partners too, so you can have someone close by if needed.

Water helps support your body weight, allowing you to pour all of your strength into the labour. The addition buoyancy also allows women in labour to move easily between birthing positions. Upright active birth positions that make the most of the use of gravity to help the baby to make its way through the birth canal are also much easier to facilitate with the use of a birthing pool.

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It is thought that being born into water is a much less traumatic experience for babies as it is a much gentler transition into the outside world. Babies have a natural dive reflex, meaning their airways close when they are submerged in water. So no need to worry about them swallowing the pool water.

It has been observed that the majority of babies who are born in water are calmer and more relaxed than babies who are born into air.

In some cases a water birth is not possible, so you will need to talk to your midwife if you are considering a water birth. A birthing pool is ideal for a natural birth as it is such an effective means of pain relief, but it also prevents the use of certain analgesics. You can use gas and air in a water birth, but it obviously prevents the use of a TENs machine, epidural and pethidine.

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What should I look for in a birthing pool?

Once you have decided to give birth in a birthing pool, you’ll want to choose something that is ideal for you. It is worth looking out for something that:

  • has grips and handles to help support you while you bear down during labour

  • is made from eco-friendly materials

  • is durable

  • is comfortable (look out for one with an inflatable floor to give extra cushioning during squatting and kneeling)

  • is large enough for you to move around freely, easily move between positions and can accommodate your birth partner if you wish

  • has transparent sides so that your midwives (and birth partners) have clear visibility from outside the pool

  • is made by a reputable company

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If you are looking for a birthing pool that ticks all of these boxes then you can’t do better than La Bassine by Made in Water. Designed by a mum, their pools are also made of lead, cadmium and phthalates free material so you can ensure that your baby is being born into a completely safe environment. La Bassine birthing pools are renowned for their sturdiness, ability to keep heat and comfort. They also inflate quickly, making giving birth in water as effortless as possible.  

A birthing pool can transform your labour, facilitating a much more gentle experience for both mother and baby. Combined with breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, meditation and massage a water birth can provide sufficient pain relief. If you are looking for a relaxed labour where you feel in control and comfortable, then a water birth might be just right for you.

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