Why choose a water birth?
By Sarah Fishburn
A water birth can be particularly helpful if you have PGP. The support of the water allows you to move around easily, which can be very difficult on dry land, and you can change position with very little effort, even if you are normally very immobile. The warmth of the water also provides great pain relief in labour, and can also be used during pregnancy for pain relief. Most hospitals and birth centres now have pools – ask your midwife about the options – or you can hire or buy a portable one quite cheaply to use at home.
Some midwives are concerned about getting women in and out of the pool. This is easy – perch on the edge of the pool with someone standing behind you, and ask another helper to help you to lift your legs together into the pool. To get out, reverse the process. If the rim of the pool is too narrow, you can put a high stool or perching stool next to the pool and do the same thing. In an emergency, they can get you out in the same way they would evacuate anyone else (and this very rarely happens anyway).
If you or your midwife are concerned about being able to use the pool, ask to speak to the Supervisor of Midwives (SoM) who is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. She is there to promote safe practice and woman-centred care, so will be able to discuss the pros and cons with you and your midwife. You can contact the SoM in advance while you are still exploring birth options or you can ask for the SoM to be called if you are in labour and there’s a difficulty with offering you a water birth which you don’t understand.
As with other birth options, talk to as many women and professionals as you can about water birth and look at available information from as many sources as possible. Given below are useful links to information about water births at home or in hospital:
“The warmth of the pool and gentle music really relaxed me so I didn’t feel nervous and could breath deeply and enjoy the birth.”
“My midwife was worried about me having a water birth in the hospital because she had limited experience of PGP. Talking my plans through with the Supervisor of Midwives reassured her and made me feel much more confident, too. It all went to plan when I went into labour.”
“I knew having a water birth was ideal as soon as I got in; I felt much more in control and my PGP seemed more manageable so that I felt stable in a way that I just couldn’t on land.”
“I was so relaxed and happy in the water but beware, just before the birth of my daughter, the midwife had to get me out as she thought I would be too laid back to push my baby out!”