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Water Birth in Edinburgh, The Lothians and Forth Valley

Updated: Jan 14

So you are pregnant and considering the possibility of using water for labour. Let's explore why you might consider using a birth pool for labour and / or birth and what facilities are available to you in NHS Lothian. and NHS Forth Valley

Water immersion in labour has several perceived benefits including less painful contractions, less need for other methods of pain relief, shorter labour leading to an increased likelihood of achieving a natural birth. You may also find you have a more enjoyable labour experience as many women report feeling more in control of their labour.

Water Birth Edinburgh Lothians Livingston St Johns

Water also supports your weight allowing you to feel buoyant with easier mobility, allowing you to be more comfortable and able to conserve energy for labour. The relaxing effect of warm water also helps to produce endorphins, the body’s natural pain relievers and can stimulate oxytocin the hormone which you make when you feel calm and relaxed and helps your uterus contract effectively during labour.

Sounds pretty good huh!

Water Birth Edinburgh Lothian Livingston

Water birth in NHS Lothian & NHS Forth Valley what are your options

You could opt for a home birth where you have a birth pool at home. Websites such as Birth Pool in a Box and The Water Stork have information about buying or hiring a pool for you to use at home. Alternatively, you may be able to purchase a pool second had and buy new liners for it.

Things to bear in mind when positioning a pool at home:

  • Location of electrical sockets and equipment

  • Whether the floor can bear the load of a full pool (thinking Edinburgh flats for example)

  • Is their adequate space around the pool for your midwife to work / offer support

  • Covering for the floor


NHS Lothian have a dedicated Home Birth Team and the trust is encouraging women who have a straightforward pregnancy to consider birthing at home. The home birth figures are steadily rising with the latest figures showing that 12 babies were born at home in water over the spring/summer or 2022.

Birth Preparation with Joy Complete Birth Preparation Package

If you did not want to give birth at home, you may consider using water at the Birth Centre in Edinburgh, St Johns Hospital in Livingston or the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Your midwife will be able to advise you on your suitability for labouring and giving birth in a pool.

The Birth Centre has six rooms, all of which have a pool. The pools hold about the same amount of water as 3-4 standard baths and are ergonomic so you can make yourself comfortable in them. Each room is less clinical than a hospital room (some describe as a home from home) and can provide mum with a wonderful setting to labour in. Your environment is crucial when it comes to you feeling safe and calm so that your body can produce the hormones it needs for you to birth your baby.


The Royal Infirmary have two pools on labour ward in rooms that have been designed as active birth rooms to encourage straightforward labour.

St Johns Hospital at Howden, Livingston has three active birth rooms with pools.

St Johns Hospital Livingston Water Birth

Birth Pool St Johns Hospital Howden Livingston Water Birth

If you are birthing at Forth Valley Royal Infirmary, then they have 2 birth pools in their alongside midwifery unit. These rooms are designed with straightforward labour in mind and focus on promoting calm and lots of oxytocin!

Don't forget that you can also use hypnobirthing and relaxation skills in the pool as well as gas & air if you need to. Birth partners can sometimes be in the water too to offer support and your midwife will be able to perform all her checks (underwater monitoring etc) without you having to leave the pool if you and your baby are well.

Speak to your midwife about your suitability of using water for labour. If you cannot access a pool then some women love being in the bath or shower during labour. A shower-head turned on full pointed at the lower back can bring great relief.

With over 15 years supporting parents prepare for labour and birth across the Central Belt, I would love to help you too. If you want to find out more about labouring and birthing in water then why not join me for one of my antenatal courses where we discuss in more depth the pros and cons of labouring and giving birthing in water.

Course Content Complete Birth Preparation Package plus Hypnobirthing




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