Water birth, simply put, is ‘childbirth that occurs in water.’ 

Proponents believe water birth can result in a more relaxed, less painful experience that promotes a midwife-led model of care. When I used one for my second birth, I used it in conjunction with my Hypnobirthing method and with my Obstetrician and midwife present (I had Michael in Asia and it is the norm to have both present). 

So let’s take a look at setting up before using a birthing pool and things you may need for labour and birth in water.

Setting up before using a Birthing Pool

If you are planning a home water birth, ensure that you and your birthing partner assemble and fill it during late pregnancy as a practise run! Doing this with your birthing partner will ensure you both know how to prepare the pool when you need it, rather than panicking on the day about how it all goes together.  Note of caution here, if you have any young children around, make sure the birthing pool isn’t left unattended when full of water.

The NTC gives advice on costs involved, and how to organise and use a birthing pool. Some pool hire companies recommend using a new sterile pool liner for each time the pool is used (around £30) whilst others recommend sterilising the liner yourself. Check with your supplier for detailed instructions.

Generally speaking and dependent upon size, it can take about 30-60 minutes to fill a birthing pool. Unless a filtration cleaning system is fitted, water must not remain in the pool longer than 24 hours. 

Some home pools may have built-in heaters and recirculating pumps.  But in June 2014, Public Health England (PHE) temporarily advised against the use of such pools, after a case of Legionnaires’ disease was discovered in a baby born in this particular type of pool.  It has also been recommended that anyone using the pool should shower before entering the water.

Things you may need for labour and giving birth in water

So whether you are giving birth at home, in a birthing centre or hospital, the following list will be useful:

  • Water to drink (straws, sipper bottles or ice chips or lollies may help)
  • What to wear; a t-shirt, crop top or go nude.
  • A small plastic stool to sit on or use to climb in and out of the pool
  • An inflatable pillow or towel (if required) as a head rest
  • A folded towel or mat for kneeling on in the pool
  • Midwives are completely used to this one… a sieve or fish net for removing mucus or bowel motion
  • Large, warmed towels for you and baby
  • A thick bathrobe

I loved being in water to give birth to Michael. Together with Hypnobirthing he came out with his water sac intact, which he broke himself, and with no crying.

Happy Birth Choices, Happy Mum, Happy Baby!


  • NCT.org.uk