Why have a waterbirth? A Look at The Evidence.

A discussion that comes up a lot in our hypnobirthing classes is that around ‘water birth’. Water can be used as a comfort measure during labour, and some women choose to birth their baby in the pool too. There are several of studies into using water immersion during labour and birth, so in today’s post I’ll have a look at the biggest and most reliable studies around waterbirth, which will hopefully assist you when putting together your birth preferences. Being in water is not the be all and end all of a positive birth experience however, you may find that you don't like it, that it slows things down, or depending on your place of birth-that the pool is unavailable! Follow your instincts and know that as long as you are informed in advance, you can make any decisions as you go! 


What are the Pros of labouring in water?

  • It can help relieve pain- studies have shown an overall lower use of other pain relief options for mothers who have laboured in water.

  • Optimal Foetal Positioning- Mothers who labour in water, are more likely to have a baby in the ‘optimal’ position for birth. (Possibly due to the ability to move around freely and with ease)

  • A Shorter first stage of labour (By an average of 32 minutes)

  • Less chance of needing a drip to ‘speed up’ labour.

  • Higher rates of satisfaction with their birth experience.

  • A reduced rate of instrumental delivery.

  • A reduced rate of tearing. (and reduced rate of episiotomy)


Current research shows no increased risk of infection for a mother or baby, however it is important a specialised ‘birth’ pool is used in order to maintain a clean and safe environment.


Who can give birth in water?

Most of the trials on waterbirth include ‘low risk’ mothers of singleton, ‘head down’ pregnancies, but waterbirth can still be an option if you are facing induction, suffer with diabetes, require antibiotics for Group B Strep, have a high BMI, raised BP etc. If waterbirth is something you would like to consider, and your pregnancy falls into a ‘higher risk’ category, I would raise your wishes with your healthcare team early on, so you can discuss putting in place a plan to safely accommodate your preferences.


Where can you use a pool?

Pools can be hired, with a new lining, for home births. Most midwifery led units will have at least one (usually more) pools available. More and more obstetric led units now have birthing pools, though whether or not they are available will depend on the day! This might be something worth considering when choosing your place of birth or hospital of care.


For a more in depth look into the research behind waterbirths- this is an excellent rescource.



If you are interested in taking the next step to a positive birth, Positively Birthing Hypnobirthing and Antenatal Classes run throughout Surrey and SW London- areas including Surbiton, Esher, Teddington, Cobham, Twickenham, St Margarets, Thames Ditton, Molesey, Richmond, Wimbledon, Kingston, Sunbury, Epsom, Ewell, and beyond. All bookings can be made here.