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Water births - an introduction

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Midwife Clemmie answers your queries:

Women often enjoy relaxing in warm water in pregnancy and some swim or attend antenatal classes at local swimming pools. Many hospitals in the UK now offer the choice of a pool to use in labour, as well as the choice of other types of pain relief. Use of warm water has long been recognised as a very effective way of helping women relax in labour.

You cannot normally 'reserve’ a pool, it comes on a first come first serve basis, unless you are at home and have provided your own pool.

Water births are available to women who have a low risk pregnancy and spontaneously go into labour between 37 and 41 weeks of pregnancy.

The benefits of water are as follows:

• The water supports your body, so you can move around and change position easily.
• Warm water can be very relaxing, it may help you to 'let go' and allow your body to do its work.
• Relaxing in warm water may help you to produce endorphins to help you cope with labour, so you may not need to use other types of pain relief.
• A birthing pool gives you your space, which may increase your sense of privacy.
• You are less likely to need an epidural for pain relief!

Discuss with your midwife around 36 weeks of your pregnancy your 'birth plan' and you can include things like 'I would like to try the pool for pain relief if it is available'. 

The midwife will listen to your baby's heart beat with an underwater hand held device which means you can relax and not have to stand up and leave the pool each time she does this. Most women prefer to be naked in the pool but if you would prefer, you can wear a bikini type top/crop top. You can use entanox (gas and air) in the pool but not pethidine or an epidural.

Find out if your local hospital offers a tour of their labour ward or a water birth talk.



  • I really hope I can have a water birth, so scared I won't be allowed.

    by AmeliaFreya 17 February 2014

  • I am really interested in water births when I finally do have a child, it can really reduce pain and I also feel it immensely calms you down and allows you to relax. Defiantly one to think about!

    by Amber_Dan1 27 June 2013

  • I would LOVE to have a water birth. If it's not available.. I'd probably go for an active birth

    by Bella__x 16 June 2013

  • I've always loved the idea of water births even before I was pregnant, and now I am, i want one even more!! I think they're amazing and a great way to involve your partner too as I want my fiance to bring our baby to the surface :D xx

    by sammie_ 16 May 2013

  • I'm hoping to have a water birth and this just makes me want one even more x

    by Babymother15 15 April 2013

  • definitely going for a water birth if a pool is available :)

    by levijade 26 February 2013

  • I really want a water birth and want my boyfriend in the water with me... I can't wait for our princess to be here now yet I'm so scared about giving birth I hope the pool eases the pain..... x

    by Bubbles2013 15 January 2013

  • This birth method seems so appealing to me! Baths have always been the thing to keep me calm and help with any pains I've had! I also want to try and avoid having an epidural but I'll have to see how I handle it!

    by Ella_A-J 5 January 2013

  • i reallllly want to use this method, i'm going to be so picky in labour hahaa xx

    by elouuk 4 December 2012

  • A water birth is the method i'd personally love to use, however it's so popular that if you are going for a water birth then make sure you keep your mind open to other options because you might not get it.. As long as at the end you have a bouncy happy child that's all that matters!

    by Emmj93 30 November 2012

  • really thinking about choosing to have one!

    by Rosie_Mihell 20 November 2012

  • I want a waterbirth, but I'm a crybaby about any type of pain so the thought of an epidural is winning me over x

    by 16 November 2012

  • I'd love to have a water birth, I feel like it would really relax me and hopefully reduce tearing which I'm really worried about !xx

    by Amber-HLS 7 November 2012

  • i'd love a water birth!! only thing that puts me off would be having any birthing partner(s) outside eventhough they can come in most of the time i know they'd annoy me:L and the fact i wouldn't be able to take anything stronger than gas and air bothers me too cos i'm a wimp:L

    by evel565 7 November 2012

  • Still undecided as to how i want to give birth i was considering a home birth or a water birth, this article has been very helpful(: xx

    by JessFitch 5 November 2012

  • i'm still undecided wherever i want a water birth or not but this has been helpful :)

    by teenmummy2be 3 November 2012

  • i was in the birthing pool but i had to get out because i wanted pathedine tbf i didnt think the birthing pool helped with the pain but i did relax me xxx

    by Ellie-May 31 October 2012

  • i really want this!

    by Georgia_xxx 30 October 2012

  • i would love a water birth!

    by Rosie_Mihell 26 October 2012

  • my plans are to have a waterbirth with just gas and air, i wont be dissapointed if i need more painrelif and have to get out the pool as its different for everyone, but i have my olan a and my plan b :)xx

    by meganmummy14 26 October 2012

  • I would love a water birth. But I'm not sure if I would want to stay in the water to push or not, I might get out for that part :P we'll see. x

    by Gemma_ 26 October 2012

  • definatly want a waterbirth :) xxx

    by indee 20 October 2012

  • I'd love to have a water birth, but gutted that the pool might not be available. I thought it would be an amazing experience to have on my first birth.

    by Medinaax 15 October 2012

  • I really want this xx

    by chelsea1994 15 October 2012

  • i wanted a waterbirth but ended up having a c-section :/

    by rhiamckenzie 14 October 2012

  • going to try this!xxx

    by IssyAmador 10 October 2012

  • im so glad im booked in for a water birth fingers crossed no1 else is using it when i go into labour lol x

    by Ellie-May 6 October 2012

  • Sounds good

    by indre 5 October 2012

  • Thank You So Much I Really Was Considering About A Water Birth Or At Least Using A Birthing Pool But Noone Was Giving Me Any Information On It What So Every So Thank You :)

    by Mummytobe16 4 October 2012

  • I wasnt keen on a water birth at first but getting in the warm water really helped relax me, I would recommend a water birth as mine went so well but everones experiences are different! if i have another baby i would love to have another water birth!! :) xxx

    by kayley9312 17 September 2012

  • I wasnt keen on a water birth at first but getting in the warm water really helped relax me, I would recommend a water birth as mine went so well but everones experiences are different! if i have another baby i would love to have another water birth!! :) xxx

    by kayley9312 17 September 2012

  • Can't wait to have a water birth, will be so sad if there is complications and i can't!

    by artie2013 25 August 2012

  • Tbh i would really love a water birth as i think it would personally relax my body, but also i would love the pain relief of an epidural as it kills any pain you a re in labor. hmmmmmmmmm??:

    by 1stAprilBubz 23 August 2012

  • can anyone have a water birth? xxx

    by meghanbailey 23 August 2012

  • I'd love to have a waterbirth if I could!

    by sashaxo 23 August 2012

  • Great artical x

    by chelsea1994 19 August 2012

  • I really was thinking of having a water birth but ive got to be put on a drip in labour so dont think i can have water birth now :( xx

    by mummy2b1011 18 August 2012

  • I really want a water birth,my sister had one and she said it was really good

    by chelsea1994 16 August 2012

  • I wanted a water birth but they said i couldn't have one as i was too far dilated, and the birthing pool was on the other side of the ward!!! :0

    by leelee123 10 August 2012

  • i'm hoping to have a water birth at home with only gas and air. x

    by phoebe14 9 August 2012

  • Water birth doesn't appeal to me unfortunately.

    by sb-xo 7 August 2012

  • I'm having a waterbirth providing everything goes well during labour. Period pains were often soothed through a warm bath and although the pain is going to be much worse it'll probably help me relax. Plus my fiance is allowed in the pool with me which will help put me at ease aswell :) cant wait!!

    by mummy_lewis 4 August 2012

  • I wouldnt like to have a waterbirth i dont like the idea of being totaly naked and i dont like the idea of being in water for however long it takes! xx

    by rosem94 4 August 2012

  • i really wanted a water birth i did get in the pool during labour but my labour lasted 48 hours so they made me get out so they could speed up the labour by drip but i do say go for a water birth the time i spent in the pool was very relaxing! x

    by gabby1992 3 August 2012

  • i love my baths, i find them relaxing and im totally going to try a water birth, but if i cant cope with the pain, i want an epidual can i still have one? but im guessing ill have to go lie down on the bed if i do?

    by Shiivy 2 August 2012

  • I would love to have a water birth I heard that it helps you relax and helps to take away some of the pain.

    by Bettie 2 August 2012

  • I really would like a waterbirth, missed out with Alfie because they needed to monitor his heart-rate, would be a bit embarrased about being fully nude though, do u have to be?

    by Kerriemamma 22 July 2012

  • The idea of being the only one in the room in a pool would frustrate and embarrass me..

    by sjc123 22 July 2012

  • I don't think I could have a water birth.. The whole idea of it freaks me out?

    by daniellelou 21 July 2012

  • i really wanted a waterbirth with my daughter, but i never did and this time i want to do it exactly how i did before.

    by amyw_x 19 July 2012

  • fingers crossed! ha

    by ScaredMum2be 19 July 2012

  • I'd love a water birth but dont think ill handle the pain! I think I got quite a strong pain threshold but giving birth is a pain you cant prepare yourself for! x

    by XHayleighX 18 July 2012

  • i would love to have a water birth, fingers crossed i can have one!xxx

    by megan-alice 10 July 2012

  • I'd LOVE waterbirth. As long as everything goes well I hope i get one but my hospital only has 1 so chances are slim. Think it would be a really relaxing and personal experience.

    by KellyEliza 8 July 2012

  • I really want a water birth, but my midwife said it might not be an option. as my first child was prem, so i may need monitoring closly this time round.

    by Gem117 4 July 2012

  • I would love to have a water birth this time round :) i couldnt have one last time as i had to be induced and attached to a monitor. *fingers crossed*

    by xproudmummyx 27 June 2012

  • just read up on waterbirths and there are so many rules on if you can and why you cant, just found out i wont be able to have a waterbirth thats so unfair.

    by Peaches932 21 June 2012

  • ive always said i want a water birth it seems a lot better for the baby and mum, but you do loose a lot more dignity haha but i suppose that really dosnt matter

    by shazza 20 June 2012

  • I'm thinking of water birth when i have aches and pains a bath helps me so much so hopefully a water birth would do the same x

    by charlieexox 17 June 2012

  • i am seriously considering a waterbirth but i dont think i will cope with the paain at the endso i dont know xxxxxx

    by teen-mummy12 12 June 2012

  • i would love a water birth it helps with the pains people say but dont know if true

    by khole 12 June 2012

  • it looks really good on 'one born every minuite'

    by katieee101 12 June 2012

  • i thought i wanted a water birth, glad i didnt go for it, tried to bath during labour, god it was awful lol!! each to their own xxx

    by Cherii 10 June 2012

  • water birth seems like a good opptoin x

    by helpme880 10 June 2012

  • I was considering a water birth but just seen some onne say a home water birth i would love to do that theres no place like home right. Lol

    by Peaches932 10 June 2012

  • really thinking about water birth now

    by millie2697 8 June 2012

  • i would have loved to try a water birth but had to have a c-section if i have more children then if i can i would defo like to try it xx

  • i reckon a water birth would freak me out a little if i had one, definitely stick with an epidural in my choice! R x

    by Rebekah_ 3 June 2012

  • I had a home water birth, I'd definitely recommend it xx

    by 2 June 2012

  • Sounds amazing :)

    by KatyBee 1 June 2012

  • would love a water birth

    by HevaBeanage 1 June 2012

  • I would love a water birth!

    by Dani_G 31 May 2012

  • i really want this or an epidural xxxx

    by georgieo 31 May 2012