Planning a Waterbirth
If you have researched different methods of child birth and have decided you would like a waterbirth there are a few things that you will need to do to make sure you have a positive birth experience.
The most important thing to do is mention that you'd like a waterbirth to your midwife when you are at your next antenatal appointment. This will allow you to discuss all the necessary information about your decision. You will be able to discuss whether you want a home waterbirth or whether you'd like to have a waterbirth in hospital. (Most hospitals have a birth pool in their midwife led units.) You will also be able to find out what options are available to you in your area.
Your midwife will want to go over all the facts with you regarding your choice of a waterbirth so be prepared to ask any questions you may have. Your midwife will talk to you about the availability of the birth pool (as if there is only one it may be in use or being cleaned when you get there); the benefits of a waterbirth whether at home or in hospital; any figures she may have regarding waterbirths in your area and what to expect at home or in hospital.
Don't be surprised by your midwife's attitude to a waterbirth, some hospitals are more encouraging of waterbirths than others, as are some midwives. You can probably put this down to inexperience over anything else, but do remember you have a choice and your midwife should support you to do so if it is safe for you and your baby.
As mentioned above, your hospital may only have one birth pool so when you go into labour, give the hospital a ring and tell them that you'd like a waterbirth. This will allow them to prepare the room for your arrival if it's available. If you are set on having a waterbirth and nothing else then you may need to consider a home birth or delivering at another hospital if possible.
Choosing a home or hospital waterbirth
Whether you choose a home or hospital waterbirth is up to you. If you choose a home waterbirth you will need to know what options there are and what preparation is needed for your labour. Your midwife will be able to give you information on birthing pools as these can be bought or hired. If this is your first pregnancy you may consider buying one and using for subsequent births. If you are choosing to go for a waterbirth at hospital then a birth pool will be there already. However, be prepared that it may be in use when you go into labour and there is a possibility that you will not have a waterbirth as you wanted. You will have a midwife assisting you whether you have a home or hospital waterbirth.
Hiring or buying a birth pool
After you have decided that you are having a waterbirth at home, the next thing you need to do is consider your home waterbirth options. You will need to think about whether you are going to hire or buy a birth pool; what type of pool you will need (there are many options so research them well and know what you want); where you are going to situate the pool - taking into account where it is easiest to fill up and empty; the size of the pool needed (this will depend on your height); who you are going to have with you during your labour (you may need someone extra there to ensure your pool is kept at the right temperature during labour); and when you are going to have a run-through to make sure you know what you are doing and how long the pool takes to fill. This will allow you and your birth partner to know what to expect when the time comes.
More information on planning a waterbirth
Speak to your midwife about antenatal classes which cover waterbirths in your area. Ask for any information that the midwife may have and speak to others who have had a waterbirth, again your midwife may be able to put you in touch with someone.
Remember... Not all labours go to plan but by being well informed, keeping an open mind and making decisions as necessary with your assisting midwife you will be able to deal with any problems that may arise during your labour.