When my husband and I started talking about birthing options, I knew I wanted to at the very least labour in a birthing pool. Many hospitals and birthing centres will have (maybe one?) birthing pool but as I was already leaning toward the idea of homebirth, having my very own pool guaranteed for me was another positive to being at home as it is common to get to hospital and find another labouring Mama has beat you to the facilities.
My midwife was very supportive of the pool idea and I started to look around at what was on offer for purchasing or renting a birthing pool. In my ante-natal yoga class, there were a few mums that had homebirthed before and two names kept coming up, the La Bassine pool or the Eco Birth Pool in a Box- which is what I eventually decided on. I purchased the regular size (I am 5'8, if you are on the shorter side I would go with the mini) from Biz-e-kids. It arrived a few days later and sat compactly boxed up until a week before my labour began.
It wasn't until the end of my pregnancy that I decided as part of my birthplan I wanted to deliver in the water. I figured that the warm water would help relax me (much as a warm bath) not to mention aid with the softening of the perineum, and if I was comfortable in the pool then there I would stay. My midwife had warned me that I may not even like the pool once in labour so I kept a an open mind about it all.
The pool was very easy to assemble. We gave it a 'dry run' about a week before my estimated due date (EDD). Unrolling it, inflating it to make sure it was without punctures and fitting the liner.
It is recommended not to fill until it is needed so we asked around and found the pool would fill within about 45 minutes. We also bought an additional pool kit which had, amongst other things, a fixture to go on the kitchen tap that the hose would run from the tap straight into the pool. It took Grant about 20 minutes to unroll and inflate the pool. Easy peasy (says I who observed all this from the comfort of the couch.) After seeing all was in working order, we deflated it again as a) it was much bigger than we realised and b) we have a cat. With claws. You get the point. We also purchased some old towels for the floor and a painter's drop sheet to protect the carpet.
When the big day arrived, I had a bath while hubby assembled the pool again. Labour was progressing well so I could get in pretty much as soon as the midwife arrived (it is thought that the water may slow labour so it is good not to get in too early.) With my contractions at 5-ish minutes apart and dilated 6 cms I sunk into the deep, warm (37 degrees) water.
FORGET what I said about it being relaxing like a warm bath. That is an understatement.
It was AMAZING.
The water was so much more than I could have imagined. I had been using a TENS machine up until that point for pain relief but the birthing pool just blew it out of the water (no pun intended.) After feeling heavy for so long, it was absolutely heavenly to sink into its warm depths- yes, you read that right, the regular is perfect for women up to 6 foot tall.
Being able to move so freely, and to float around was bliss. I spent much of my labour with my arms flung over the side and kneeling in the pool (the base was padded so that was perfect.) I recommend keeping a cold flannel close by as it does get quite hot, not just from the labour but the pool needs to stay at optimum temperature (37.5 degrees) for delivery.
The pool retained its heat perfectly. I am sure that Grant only had to bucket out water and fill again with hot from the tap 2 or 3 times over the next 5 hours (I entered at 9am and Avalon was born at 2.15pm.)
I would absolutely, 100% use a birthing pool again. I cannot recommend it enough for pain relief and relaxation. I don't need to tell you it made clean up a hell of a lot easier too. With the pool kit we bought additionally, there was an electronic pump so the pool water could be syphoned into the toilet after we were all done (another job for hubby.) In my recollection it probably took about an hour to empty and pack away the pool.
If you are thinking about waterbirth, I recommend checking out Waterbirth International.
*Birth Mate UK is a great resource for women exploring their birth choices (and rights) within the UK. Check out the facebook page (a link on the left hand side of this blog) or email Sarah and the team at firstname.lastname@example.org