The answer to that question is not as simple as it maybe should be.
There are different birthing facilities that facilitate a water birth.
You can rent a birthing pool and plan on a home birth, you can take a rented pool to a birthing centre or use an existing pool in a hospital facility.
Because of the lack of existing facilities for water birth, if you are counting on the last option, you run the risk of there being no pools available when you go into labour. If that happens, you have no choice but to forego your wishes for a water birth.
All hospitals and birthing centres do however have the availability of showers. The shower is often forgotten but is more widely used for women who don’t need constant monitoring with CTG. The shower is also a fantastic, very effective, form of pain relief. Women who use the shower during labour can stay in there for hours sometimes. It really can help manage the pain.
Unfortunately labouring in water and giving birth in water is typically only for women giving birth with a (1st line) midwife practice, with the exception of a few hospitals in the country. This is changing fast as the demand for the use of water during labour is quickly increasing and hospitals are having to listen as clients are starting to choose for hospitals with more options. Not all midwives are trained or comfortable with supporting water birth so always ask your midwives about the options if you are interested in this option. If you have a negative response, you might want to consider seeing if there are other midwife practices in your area who have experience with water birth.
What happens when you have a medical indication?
When a woman is being followed by the Gynecologist during her pregnancy there is usually a medical reason. This usually means she needs to have continual monitoring of the baby with a CTG during her labour making it unusual for her to be allowed to use the shower for pain relief and even more unusual to give birth in water. There are a few hospitals in The Netherlands where this is possible but they are the exception and each case is judged on an individual basis.
There is also a possibility that a medical indication arises during your birth. In this case it is more than likely you will have to let go of your desire to use water for the birth.
Very few hospitals have wireless CTG’s and even fewer have wireless waterproof CTG’s. These do exist and would make the options for using warm water, even the shower, for pain management and birth a lot more accessible. These machines are expensive and unfortunately not seen as a priority when hospital budgets are made. If your hospital of choice has a pool ask about the options for wireless monitoring. The more people who ask, the more attention it will get that there is a demand for this option.
If you have a medical indication and are one of the lucky ones who lives close to a hospital that has the option to use a birthing pool with the 2nd line care, inquire about the options and protocols about your particular case. Angela was one of the lucky ones. Read her VBAC water birth story here.
Remember that if you have a medical indication, and are giving birth under the Gynecologist, your hospital of choice may have a pool but it is (in most cases) only available for women giving birth with an external (1st line) midwife practice.
Where can I rent a birthing pool?
Many doula’s and midwife practices have birth pools to rent or you can hire one online. These companies have excellent services.