Birthing options: 5 ways to give birth
Birth plan: home birth with birthing pool

Birth plan: home birth with birthing pool

Name: Home birth with birthing pool

What it is and how it works:
According to the Royal College of Midwives, home birth in the UK has become less common over the last two generations, despite evidence showing that health outcomes of planned home birth are as good as those for hospital birth. There are also many emotional and practical benefits that can result from giving birth at home.

Available since the ‘80s, labouring in water is a popular option for those choosing to have a home birth. You can buy or rent a pool to use at home - try to find a model with a padded edge that you can lean against comfortably. Make sure the room can handle the size and weight of the pool (most average five feet by four feet), ensure you have easy access to a good water supply to top up the pool and keep the water temperature between 34° and 37°C.

What are the benefits:
Women tend to feel relaxed in the home environment, and also experience pain relief upon entering the pool.
Being in water is buoyant and supporting so it’s easy to change positions and may reduce the need for other forms of pain relief and assisted deliveries. There is also some evidence that water softens the tissues of the perineum, reducing the risk of tearing. It is safe for the baby as well.

What are the negatives:
When labouring at home, there is always the chance that a swift move to the hospital will be necessary, in case any complications arise. Water birth is often not possible in high-risk pregnancy situations (ie. If the mother has pre-eclampsia, the baby is in a breech position, etc).

Are there cost implications?: Yes. The cost of hiring a birthing pool starts at £80 from Water Baby Birthing Pool Hire, while purchasing a pool will set you back a little more - £99.99, with electric pump - from For hotel room ambience mid-labour, you can even get a pool with Jacuzzi-style bubbles.

Available on private/NHS/both?: Many NHS hospitals have birthing pools, as do birth centres and private hospitals, so water births are not limited to the home.

Expert opinion/testimonial comment:

Caroline Flint, midwife, The Birth Centre
'Because it’s in your home, you’re much more in control of everything. You reel more relaxed because you’re in your own surroundings and it’s usually much more conducive to having a normal birth.

Water birth is something you can have in hospital as well, and it changes everything: it makes labour shorter, it gives women enormous buoyancy. They are able to get into extraordinary positions, which helps enormously, and it makes them feel private which is important because women are mammals and want space. And, it’s fantastic for pain.'

Dr. Pat  O’Brien, obstetrician, University College London Hospitals
'It’s very safe for women who are healthy and have healthy babies, and where there are good transfer-to-hospital facilities available (a good ambulance service).'

Rebecca Blum, 38, an environmental campaigner from Hampshire and mum to Tuelle, two, and Pip, nine months, says:

'I was lucky enough to have a beautiful water birth at home with my second baby. Far from being painful and traumatic, it was actually a wonderful and empowering experience - one I would love to do all over again!

'The combination of the calm and security of being at home, a supportive husband, the lovely warm water, a doula and two wonderful midwives, and a relaxed mental attitude due to practicising hypnobirthing techniques meant I gave birth quickly, effortlessly and practically painlessly. Nine months on I still well up with tears thinking about what a beautiful entrance to the world my daughter had.'

Image © Comstock

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