How do I start planning a water birth?

We discussed about water birth and its benefits previously, so if you have decided that a water birth sounds like the right thing for you, read on. Research suggests that a water birth is no riskier than a normal birth, so long as your pregnancy is not considered high risk in the first place. But before you jump in, you should be aware that a lot goes into planning a water birth in advance.

The first step is to discuss this option with your midwife or doctor, and decide whether you want to have a water birth in hospital or in the comfort of your own home. Selected hospitals do have birth pools you can use, but you may also ask if you can bring your own hired pool. Some hospitals are less than supportive about this idea; so many expecting mummies opt for birthing in the familiar surroundings of home.

RELATED: How to make a birth plan before your delivery

Steps in planning a water birth

Once you’ve established if you’re having a water birth at home, it’s up to you to acquire your own birth pool, and whether you are hiring or buying, you are spoilt with choice.

  • You need to ensure that the floor of your house can actually support the width of what will be a decent size paddling pool. What is to become the birthing room should also be spacious enough to allow free movement for the midwife and all her equipment.
  • The tub should be deep enough to sit comfortably with the water level reaching your armpits. Do a test run beforehand to find out how long it takes to fill up the pool with water and also to get everything set up for the birth. Make sure all the pool accessories like the pump, filters and heater is working properly. Also make sure that you can get in and out of the tub with ease.

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  • An often overlooked step in planning a water birth is experimenting with different labour positions. Try sitting, kneeling and lying down, and feel what is most comfortable to you.
  • Decide on your midwife. If you are giving birth outside the hospital, it is essential to have an experienced midwife to deliver the baby and monitor you closely, just in case of complications. Having a doula at hand is a nice touch, but not essential. A doula, while taking great care of the mummy, cannot substitute the midwife.

Once you have everything planned and ready, don’t forget about a few essential items that will see you through your water birth.

Items you will need for a water birth

Even if the birth tub is an essential part of the process, it is not the only item that you’ll need to get. When you are planning a water birth, you need to have all your bases covered to ensure that the process runs as smoothly as possible. You will also need:

  • A couple of clean old towels
  • A clean bucket to place the placenta
  • Bin liners – The tub is actually lined before it is filled with water
  • A fishing net to filter and remove debris
  • A thermometer to check the water temperature. Your midwife will have to monitor this.
  • A TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machine
  • Maternity pads
  • A warm robe for when you get out of the tub
  • Adapters to fit your taps
  • Light snack and drinks which will keep your glucose and energy levels up as you prepare for birth
  • A birth ball is optional, but will be a useful distraction between contractions.
  • All the essentials your baby will need once he greets the world. Think clothing, pre-warmed towels, a diaper and immediate access to a clean washing up bowl.
  • Your midwife should also have and underwater Doppler to monitor your baby’s heartbeat.

RELATED: Does hypnobirthing really make labour easier?

It is absolutely essential to discuss your ideas with your midwife. When it comes to planning a water birth, they offer invaluable advice and pointers and will ensure that you receive the one-on-one care you’ll need. A woman in labour cannot be left unattended even if there are no complications. Planning ahead can only go towards ensuring a better birthing experience for you.

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Source: How to prepare for a water birth