There is increasing interest in water birth in all birth settings. Many women are intuitively drawn to including water in their birth plans, but it’s unfortunate that so many women don’t have or don’t believe they have the right to a water birth.
Midwives, doulas, and other birth workers do the most amazing and important work supporting their clients through pregnancy and birth. We have some ideas on easy ways that all birth workers can support their clients to access water birth…
Research on water birth is relatively new, and it’s only recent years that studies have explored the considerations and benefits related to water birth. Stay up to date on trends and evidence based information, so that you have resources to share with your clients about the safety, suitability, and benefits of water birth – if they are interested!
One of our favourite resources is Waterbirth International (https://waterbirth.org), and you can use Google Scholar or ChatGTP to search for up-to-date scholarly articles on water birth.
It’s also important to be aware of the water birth “policies” of the different birth settings your clients may choose. For example, some hospitals prohibit water birth when there are certain complications or circumstances present.
In some settings, you may need to advocate for your client to have access to water birth or support them to do so themselves. In some hospital birthing settings, when a woman is discouraged from water birth she may have the option to to demonstrate that she understands the concerns and wishes to have a water birth anyway.
There are also opportunities for advocacy at a higher level. Armed with evidence-based information about water birth, you might be well-positioned to push for change in hospital policies around water birth.
Some of the barriers to water birth are more logistical and financial. If a hospital doesn’t provide a bathtub – or if a woman birthing at home doesn’t have a bath tub – what then?
Encouraging your client to hire a birth pool – or even organizing the hire as part of your services – is a wonderful and affordable option. Some hospitals and birthing centres even allow for hired birth pools to be brought in – best to check in advance!
It is cheaper to hire a birth pool than to purchase one, and if you hire a birth pool that comes as part of a kit (like ours at Birth Afloat) then you have at your disposal every accessory you could possible need, such as hoses, tap adapters, a thermometer, and a brand new liner for the birth pool.
Hiring a birth pool saves you time and effort, too: at Birth Afloat, we do all of the cleaning and sanitising between uses, so there is no extra work for you. You get to focus on supporting your clients.
If you don’t mind cleaning and caring for a birth pool, you may wish to purchase one of more to have at your disposal. This allows you flexibility and independence, and you could adjust the costs of your service packages to reflect the inclusion or exclusion of access to a birth pool. You’ll need to make sure you have the appropriate hoses and tap accessories to go with the birth pool.
There are many birth pools on the market, and we always recommend the Birth Pool in a Box brand. They are super convenient and durable, and they come in two sizes. It’s best to use these birth pools with a one-time-use disposable liner – you can purchase these in bulk from us, too.
Water birth is so often a safe and beautiful way for babies to enter the world. Let’s all play our part in making water birth more accessible to more birthing women!