Top tips for a successful water birth

Tips for water birth in general

  • 2017-01-28 Re-do Jim waterbirth-6Know that at any time the situation can change and you may need to let go of your dream water birth. Hold the dream lightly so you can let go of it at any moment yet at the same time prepare well so you know you have done all you can to achieve your goal of birthing your baby in water.
  • Stick a sticker on the bottom of the pool. This can help to indicate how much blood loss there is. If you can still see the sticker post birth then it is usually fine. Also if you can still see what colour your legs are then your blood loss is safe.
  • To prevent the baby’s breathing reflex from kicking in the baby needs to stay completely under water till its whole body is born. The water needs to be at least 65cm deep. The water should ideally come up to under your breasts if you are sitting.
  • The water should be refreshed after 24 hours to prevent bacteria forming.
  • It is wise to not stay longer than 2 hours in the bath without a break of 30 minutes or so. This gives optimal pain relief and the movement of getting out of the pool can help the baby move through the pelvis.
  • Have an anti-slip mat to lay beside the pool for when you want to get out, old (or cheap)towels that can get dirty, a warm dressing gown and slippers.
  • Think about using dark coloured towels as any stains do not show and it looks better in the photos (says the birth photographer in me☺)
  • Take two or so of your own large bath towels, the hospital towels are not so big (and that is an understatement!)
  • It is a good idea to have a good torch/flash light with extra batteries for when the lighting is low and you want to see better whats going on in the water.
  • Some pools have a place for the partner to sit. It is nice to have the option of having your partner in the water with you for support, especially during the pushing phase. Make sure he has swimming shorts with him, just in case.
  • It is also nice to have candles, fairy lights or lighting that is dimmer for a more cozy and intimate atmosphere.

Extra tips for an enjoyable home water birth

  • If you are planning a home water birth, or renting a pool to take to a birth centre, you should usually have the pool in the house by week 37. Some midwife practices and doula’s rent birth pools. Find some links to where you can rent a pool on this prior blog post.
  • If you have a wooden floor make sure your floor can handle the weight of the water filled pool. A large pool carries about 800 liters of water, which is 800 kilo in weight. With a good floor this should not be a problem but in some old houses it is worth checking this first.
  • The room should be large enough to allow access from all sides. The midwife needs space to access the pool well.


  • The temperature of the room you will be birthing in should be comfortable. It can be nice to have a blow fan close by in case you get too warm in the water.
  • Have a practice run setting up the pool before hand. Time how long it takes to adequately fill the pool.
  • The midwife may at any point need more light then it is handy to have a moveable spotlight.
  • Have a low stool or children’s chair for the midwife to sit on next to the pool so she can sit comfortably too.
  • If the pool will be set up in the living area or on a different floor than the bedroom, make a comfortable place in the same room as the pool for mother and baby to lie on. A good sofa or guest bed/mattress work fine. This way you can lie there and enjoy the baby after the birth instead of moving upstairs or to the bedroom. This can also be used if you need to birth the baby or the placenta outside of the water. Make sure it is protected well from bloodstains and covered well with an old sheet and plastic if needed. The box you get from the insurance should have special mats in for this.
  • Have a few warm blankets or a duvet close by to keep mama and baby warm and lots of dark coloured towels 🙂
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