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Posted by on Feb 4, 2012 in Positive Birth Stories | 8 comments

Guest Post: Planning a water birth

Guest Post: Planning a water birth

Today, I’m delighted to bring you a guest post, written by Maria Barker who loves discussing the various options during pregnancy, and how women make decisions from their first pregnancy symptoms.

Planning a Water Birth
Water births have had a popularity surge in the last five years and thankfully hospitals are beginning to accommodate for this. There was a temporary ban on water births in 2006 in Ireland but this has now been lifted and technically, hospitals are able to offer this choice to mums-to-be, though anecdotal evidence suggests availing of this option is difficult if not impossible in most Irish hospitals.

Source: The birthing pool in CUMH

The First Steps
The first thing to do if you are considering a water birth is to find out which hospitals, if any, near you have the equipment and inclination to offer water births. If you experience problems in finding a hospital happy to accommodate for your water birth you may want to look into giving birth at home. For this you would need to find an experienced midwife who had delivered water births before at home and is happy to do so again. You’ll also need your own pool.

Think Before You Commit
Before you make your decision do make sure you’ve read all the pros and cons of water births including possible risks. Don’t let people’s opinions scare you away from the idea, make your decision based on medical facts and your preference. Some people do not approve of pain relief-free labours but the choice is completely yours. Water births are known to reduce pain during labour, but, as you will know, you will not be allowed an epidural or episiotomy during the labour.

Once you’ve made that important decision it is more vital than ever to keep to your regular hospital or GP appointments and check-ups. There are a number of factors which could prevent you from having a water birth and you’ll need to be open minded, not to mention willing to be flexible during the pregnancy and labour.

Important Checks To Make
During the labour you’ll want to check (or have someone check!) the temperature of the pool. (It should be kept around body temperature and not above 37C) It is advisable not to enter the water too early as the warmth may relax the body too much and stop the contractions. Also, try not to be too disheartened if things don’t go the way you planned and you have to leave the pool before the birth for whatever reason. Just remember that the method of birth isn’t the most important thing but your baby’s health is.

Finally, once you’ve given birth in the pool you may be asked to leave before you deliver the placenta. This is because any loss of blood is easier to monitor outside of water and is a safety precaution. By this time you will have your lovely new baby to distract you so it isn’t anything to worry about!


  1. Thanks for this post, Lisa. It reminded me of the labour of my first child,- and that was awesome! I’ve spent six hours in the birthing pool (but wasn’t allowed to give a birth in it due some accident happened earlier that time in other hospital) But I have to say – if this is the way kids come into the world -I wouldn’t mind to give a birth every year, it’s true! Funny enough, I don’t remember much, just that I enjoyed the pool so much  and I didn’t want to think of anything… Later my husband asked me why did I keep asking him if he was allright? (I think it was the guilt of plesure me being in the pool and not him:) The birthing pool did the magic and made the birth experience trully magic!! P.S.: I think that was the last time I had a looong relaxing bath in my life:))))))

    • Sounds wonderful Olga. When I got to hospital I was told I couldn’t even have a bath because I’d be disturbing women on the ward! I would have loved a birthing pool! I had had a bath at home before heading to the hospital and it had helped so much. I don’t understand why a pool is not just available as standard in most maternity hospitals.

  2. Great to see an article on labouring in water. I used a birth pool at home for my first birth – had planned a home birth – found it an amazing tool for coping with the labour. I still remember the relief on getting in. I had been feeling tired and it just helped relax me. I also loved how cocooned I felt and the amount of space I had in it. I loved rocking during my labour – had spent most of the earlier part on the birth ball, I was able to continue moving in the pool which really helped me.  I had hoped for a water birth, but ended up transferring into hospital in the end (it was a long labour!). On my second it was so fast I didn’t get a chance to get into the pool – though it was set up and half filled by the time he came (I now warn all second timers to switch the immersion on the minute their labour starts – I had no idea mine would be so quick!!!). If I ever have a third I would love to have a water birth. Watch this space!!! I find it very frustrating as well that a birth pool is not available in most of the Irish labour wards as standard. Even more annoying is the fact that the pool was removed from the Rotunda altogether!!!Just to add (shameless plug here), I sell the La Bassine Birth Pools in Ireland – (hope it’s OK to add that in). 

  3. Lovely post, and a shame they can’t/don’t offer birth pools for every woman in labour. A lot of women get hung up on the idea of a “water birth”, whereas it’s important to remember the water is a great tool in labour to relax and soothe you, no matter if your baby’s actually born in water or not. I used a birth pool for my first home birth and just the bath for my second, it was the only “pain” relief I used at all, water’s theraputic effects are really underrated! I have my birth stories here in my blog if you’re interested, Niamh

    • do you think it is a “MUST” to induce or would you rmmeceond the mother to go into labor on her own…….no matter how long it takes?? Or does it really get dangerous for the baby to stay in for too long? I do not think it is a must to induce because of dates. Due dates don’t actually mean too much. 40 weeks is based on pregnancy lasting approximately 10 moons. The average pregnancy is actually 40+3, average first time is 40+8. This still doesn’t mean much. The average means that if you take all women and average them that is the number. It does not mean we are due to have our babies by that date. It is simply an estimation where you are most likely to have your baby 3 weeks before or 3 weeks after. The other problem with dates is how we calculate them. Ultrasound is very inaccurate and using the first day of your last period does not factor in different length cycles and when you actually ovulated. If you know when you ovulated/conceived that is the best date to use add 38 weeks and know it will more likely go longer than shorter. Unless there are clear indications that there is a danger to the baby, babies should be left to come out in their own time. It is the baby that triggers labor when it is ready to come out, forcing it out sooner can lead to a baby before born prematurely, even if it is 2 weeks post dates. Just kept thinking, what if something goes wrong? What if the cord is around the neck and he/she needs oxygen right after coming into this word? If you have midwives they are fully equipped to deal with these things at home. The cord just needs to be unwrapped and the midwives carry oxygen. Also if you don’t cut the cord the baby doesn’t need to breathe right away because it will still be getting oxygen from the cord.

  4. Does anyone know if there is a list somewhere of which hospitals have a facility for water birth? I personally would be very interested…

    • I don’t think any Irish hospitals accommodate water birth at the moment.

  5. I had the most wonderful water homebirth for my fourth child. Every mother should be allowed access. It is still a most wonderful memory 12 years on.
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