I personally gave birth in a hospital but with a lot of planning a water birth could be in your future. Please read on.
There are many points within labour, or even pre-labour where a birth pool can help with the entire process. The warm water can help you relax and can remove some of the pains of labour, however, you may find that the water has the best impact if you wait until you are at least 5cm dilated. Aim to keep the temperature of the water at or below 37ºC at all times (35º-37º is optimum during the first stage of labour and 37º-37.5º during the second). If you become overheated it can cause distress to the baby and discomfort to yourself.
You shouldn’t forget to keep drinking water during your labour despite the fact that you are semi-submerged. You can still become dehydrated as you sweat during labour, so be sure to continue to take on liquids. However, to help yourself remain comfortable you should try and keep your bladder and empty as possible so it’s important to find the right balance.
To keep things hygienic it is recommended that everyone who is entering the birth pool shower first. Some pools are large enough for several people so choosing a water birth doesn’t mean that your partner and midwife will have any problem attending to you.
The warm water works specifically with contraction pain but can also help relieve pain in your back or to help relieve a sense of pressure that may build up during labour. If you find that your labour is progressing slowly in the water, you might try moving into different positions or getting out of your birth pool and walking around for a while. Squatting, kneeling on all fours or going up and down stairs can help move the baby into a good position for birth. It is important that you find the right position that makes you the most comfortable as it is likely that this is the best position for your baby.
If you feel you want to leave the pool, you should do so. You know best the needs and comforts of your body while you are in labour. If you find that the warm water isn’t sufficient to deal with your labour pain, move to other strategies. You should not feel that you have to use the birth pool just because it is there – you may not want to get into it at all, and that choice is yours, always make sure you have a backup plan to help your labour run as smoothly as possible.
You can find out more about birth pools and natural birth at home at http://www.madeinwater.co.uk/