The Essential Guide to a Water Birth

water birth

I wanted to have a water birth for my first labour. My friends and colleagues had all had positive experiences and only had good things to say about it. So I found out as much information as I could (I love to research everything!) before I put it into my birth plan. Unfortunately, my baby had other plans and I wasn’t able to have my water birth. But I didn’t want all that research to go to waste so I decided to share so it could help someone else.

What is a Water Birth?

It sounds like a silly question! But I’d never seen a water birth and didn’t have a clue what a birthing pool was like!  So a water birth is one of the natural pain relief options for labour and delivery. The birthing pool is just an oversized round bath, big enough to fit you and a birthing partner. The water temperature is between 36.5-37 degrees Celsius.   

How do I Arrange a Water Birth?

First, you need to talk to your midwife to make sure your pregnancy is suitable for one. There are sometimes reasons why you are unable to use the birthing pool. You can have a water birth at home or in the hospital. If you choose to have one at home you can rent one for your labour.

If you are planning a hospital birth, you will need to phone the hospital and tell them when your labour starts. Explain that you would like a water birth and if there is a room available they will get it ready for you. If you choose to have a water birth make sure you write it into your birth plan.

Essential guide to a water birth
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What should I Wear for a Water Birth?

Whatever you like! Whether you at home or in the hospital, the most important thing is to feel comfortable. What to wear was one of my biggest worries when I was planning my water birth because I wanted to be comfortable but not feel too exposed. So I decided to go for a maternity bra (or a bikini top or sports bra if you have one that still fits!) and an oversized t-shirt. You can also wear pants or bikini bottoms underneath and remove them later.

Why Should I have a Water Birth?

There were so many positives I heard from people who had experienced a water birth:

  • The warm water is relaxing
  • Can give you a feeling of being in control
  • It is a natural form of pain relief
  • It can help you to feel less exposed when you are in the water
  • The buoyancy of the water can make you feel more comfortable
  • The buoyancy of the water can encourage you to be more upright this helps labour to progress
  • You can also use gas and air in the pool
  • The baby can be more relaxed
  • It can help to ease any tearing
Childbirth posts

If you have enjoyed reading this check out The complete guide to childbirth. I share all of my experiences of Childbirth including using hypnobirthing, a birthing ball and a TENS machine

Will I have to get out of the Pool?

A lot of women are able to stay in the birthing pool for their labour and delivery. But it is your choice and you can get out whenever you need to. Some women prefer to labour in the pool and get out to deliver the baby.

There are some circumstances where you will need to get out of the pool, such as:

  • If any complications develop with you or the baby during delivery
  • If the baby’s heart rate drops and  needs to be monitored with a belt around your abdomen
  • If labour slows down
  • You start to bleed
  • Your blood pressure or temperature is raised
  • Meconium is detected in your waters (this is what happened to me)
  • You feel faint
  • If you want to use a TENS machine
  • If you want an epidural

What Happens During the Birth?

If you choose to deliver your baby in the pool, the midwife will assist you from the edge. When you deliver the baby’s head it will be kept under the water. As the baby has not yet been introduced to air he will still be getting oxygen through the umbilical cord and there is no risk of drowning. When the baby’s body is delivered he will be passed out of the water and introduced to air for the first time. At this point, he will take his first independent breath.

What Happens after the Birth?

You can remain in the water or get out to deliver the placenta. Your baby will be passed to you or you will reach down to get baby and can place him on your chest. As long as baby is kept warm you can remain in the water for skin to skin time and begin breastfeeding if you want to.

the Essential guide to a water birth
Essential guide to a water birth


I was so excited to have a water birth for my first labour. I planned it for the last few weeks of my pregnancy. When my waters broke, I had meconium in them, so I wasn’t able to have a water birth. I was disappointed that I had missed out on this opportunity. But I soon forgot about it when my son was born! When I was pregnant for the second time, I decided not to have a water birth because I couldn’t face having the disappointment again. Instead, I used hypnobirthing, a TENS machine, and a birthing ball. If you are planning your labour take a look at this post that shares 10 Pain Relief Choices for Labour: Pros and Cons

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