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Immersion in water during labour can aid relaxation, ease pain, help you change position easily and reduce the need for additional pain relief and is supported at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust.

Can I use the pool in labour?

We recommend that when using the pool:

  • You are able to get in and out of the pool unaided
  • You are expecting one baby which is head down (cephalic)
  • Your pregnancy is term (>37 weeks gestation)
  • You are in established labour without the need for medication to start or augment your labour (oxytocin).
  • You have normal blood pressure, temperature and pulse
  • You have no significant medical/obstetric conditions which may affect the labour, such as high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, epilepsy, heart conditions, blood borne viruses

Additionally, there must be no concerns about your baby’s wellbeing in labour; the baby’s heart rate is normal and if your waters have broken the water (amniotic fluid) is clear.

What happens during a pool labour?

Before entering the pool, your midwife will check that you and your baby are suitable for the pool. In the pool:

  • You can wear a bikini top or ‘T’ shirt if you do not want to be naked.
    The water will be kept at a comfortable temperature, as close as possible to 37.5
  • degrees centigrade. This is particularly important as your baby is born so that your
  • baby does not breathe under the water.
    The water is kept at the level of your breasts when sitting down.
    It is advisable to take frequent sips of water to prevent dehydration.
    Entonox (gas and air) is the only pharmacological pain relief you can use in the pool.
  • If you have had pethidine the pool can be used 2 hours after it is given, as long as you
  • are not drowsy.
    As your baby is born, you, your partner or the midwife should bring the baby to the
  • surface face first as soon as possible. This must be agreed prior to the birth.
    You can have the umbilical cord clamped after one minute (delayed cord clamping) or
  • wait until it stops pulsating if you have chosen to wait for the placenta to be delivered naturally.
  • At any time, the midwife may ask you to leave the pool because of a problem and we would ask that you comply with their request.
  • Depending on your choices for delivery of the placenta you may be asked to leave the pool to facilitate this. When you have left the pool and the placenta has been delivered, the midwife will offer you an examination to see if you need any stitches.

Can my partner enter the pool?

Partners can enter the pool with you. We request that they are appropriately dressed in swimming shorts as a minimum.

Can I use the pool if I am giving birth on Labour Ward?

Recommending that you birth your baby on the Labour Ward is usually because you have a pregnancy or medical complication and the Labour Ward has been recommended as the most suitable place for birth so that your baby’s heartbeat can be continuously monitored. There is an inflatable pool on labour ward and a wireless monitor that can be used for this purpose.

If you have any concerns about your own suitability please ask your Community Midwife.

Will a pool be available?

Sometimes you may plan to use a birthing pool but find that they are already occupied when you arrive in labour. It is therefore important to bear in mind that you will not always be able to use the pool.