So you've got a little one on the way and you're thinking about the idea of having a water birth in Central Scotland. Let's dive into (pun definitely intended) why choosing a birth pool might be something you'd consider and what options are available to you.
Edinburgh Royal Infirmary
Using water during labour has some cool perks. It can make contractions less intense, reduce the need for other pain relief methods, can potentially shorten your labour time and can increase your chances of having a natural birth.
Plus, lots of women say it makes the whole experience more manageable and enjoyable. Who wouldn't want that, right?
When you're in water, it supports your body, making you feel lighter and more mobile. It's like having your own personal buoyancy device! This can make you more comfortable and help you save up some energy for birth. Plus, warm water has this relaxing effect that releases endorphins (the body's natural painkillers) and can boost oxytocin, the "calm and relaxed" hormone that helps your uterus do its job during labour.
Sounds pretty amazing, doesn't it?
It is also often possible for birth partners to get into the pool too - no snorkel gear required!
Discussing water birth on The Complete Birth Prep Package
SO WHAT ARE MY LOCAL OPTIONS?
If you fancy a home birth, you could look into having a birth pool at your place. Websites like Birth Pool in a Box or The Water Stork have info on buying or renting pools for home use. Just remember to think about things like where to put the pool (hello, electrical sockets!), whether your floor can handle it, and if there's enough space for your midwife to move around and support you. Alternatively, you may be able to purchase a pool second had and buy new liners for it.
NHS Lothian is really getting behind home births, and they have a dedicated Home Birth Team. The latest numbers show a rise in home water births, with 11 home births in September 2023 and 12 water births in total.
WHAT IF HOME BIRTH IS NOT MY THING?
Don't worry! You've got options at places like the Birth Centre in Edinburgh, Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, St. John's Hospital in Livingston, Forth Valley Royal, Wishaw, The Victoria in Fife and the main hospitals in Glasgow.
Each of these places has birthing rooms equipped with pools.
The Birth Centre, for instance, has six rooms with ergonomic pools that can hold about as much water as 3-4 baths, and the setting is less clinical and more like a home away from home, which can make a big difference in how you feel during labour.
Birth Centre Edinburgh
The Royal Infirmary and St. John's Hospital also have their own setups with pools in three of their labour rooms designed to support a more active and straightforward labour.
If you're heading to Forth Valley, they've got you covered too with two birth pools in their alongside midwifery unit. Wishaw also has two as does The Victoria and the hospitals in Glasgow.
Pool rooms aim to create a calming atmosphere and promote that oxytocin flow!
AM I GUARANTEED A POOL?
Pools are allocated on a first come / first served basis and you may have to meet certain criteria depending on where you are birthing your baby to be able to have access. It is always worth having a discussion with your midwife when you are making the call to travel into hospital to express your wishes and to find out whether water is going to be an option for you.
Remember, if a pool isn't available, some women find relief in the bath or shower during labour. A strong stream of water aimed at the lower back can work wonders.
I AM NOT SURE I WANT TO GIVE BIRTH IN THE POOL
That's fine. Some mums choose to labour in the water and then get out to birth their babies on the land. See how you feel on the day and remember that a pool room will also have birth balls, mats, a bed, and other items to help you adopt great positions for labour if you wish to use them.
WILL MY MIDWIFE BE ABLE TO DO ALL THEIR CHECKS OK?
Absolutely! Your midwife will be able to do all the same observations with you in the water as she would be able to do with you on the land. If there is a concern, they may ask you to leave the pool but otherwise they can listen to your baby's heart rate and do other checks with you safe in your watery cocoon.
Wishaw General - Credit Wishaw General Maternity
CAN I USE OTHER PAIN MANAGEMENT IF I AM IN WATER?
Using hypnobirthing and relaxation techniques in the pool, along with options like gas & air, are a winner. Your birth partner can also offer shoulder massages, pour warm water over your shoulders you can use aromatherapy too.
CAN I WEAR A BIKINI?
What to wear in a birth pool is a question I am asked a lot in antenatal classes. Some women choose to labour in a bikini whilst others prefer a tankini, their bra or to go completely naked. Whatever you think you will be comfortable in.
St Johns, Livingston
BUT WHAT DOES THE SCIENCE SAY?
I always make sure what I talk about during The Complete Birth Prep Package is grounded in science and is evidence based.
“Water immersion significantly reduced use of epidural, injected opioids, episiotomy, maternal pain and postpartum haemorrhage. There was an increase in maternal satisfaction and odds of an intact perineum with water immersion." Burns et al 2022
"Analysis of data from 16,577 women showed that water immersion reduced the transfer rate for women who planned to birth at home or in ... midwifery units. Furthermore, the date showed that using water during labour also reduced the caesarean section rate and increased their chance of having a straightforward normal birth." Lukasse et al 2014
If you love your research then check out Dr Sara Wickham's website on water birth.
I hope this has answered some of your questions about using water for labour and hey, if you're in the Central Belt area, I've been supporting expecting parents prepare for labour, birth and early parenthood since 2007. Why not join me and other local parents for one of my antenatal courses in Livingston EH54, or Larbert FK5 where we discuss water birth and so much more!
IN PERSON ANTENATAL COURSES
LIVINGSTON EH54 AND LARBERT FK5
ONLINE HYPNOBIRTHING AND BREASTFEEDING WORKSHOP