You’re pregnant – Congratulations! And you’ve decided on a waterbirth – Terrific! Now to the next question …. how to set up a birth pool!
This article is designed to assist you in navigating your way through selecting, erecting, using and ultimately packing away your birth pool.
What You’ll Need
Selecting a Birth Pool
With a range of birth pools on the market, as well as inflatable children’s wading pools which could be used for the purpose, it can be difficult to decide which pool to buy. When making your decision, key considerations are likely to be cost, size and comfort.
Download our Birth Pool Comparison Chart (PDF 74kb)
Addressing size first, it is important to consider the space available to erect your birth pool, and select a pool which can be comfortably accommodated.
It can be tempting to purchase the cheapest pool available but in doing so you may sacrifice comfort features which can make a difference. These included:
An additional consideration is durability and length of use. Some pools are designed for a single use while others can be used many times.
Selecting Where to Place Your Pool
A birth pool can be placed on either a concrete or hardwood floor provided the floor can bear the weight. A filled birth pool weighs between 330 kg and 720 kg on average. Translated, if the floor in the room you are considering couldn’t carry 10 to 12 people standing together, you should select a different location.
If erecting your pool on a hardwood floor, selecting a corner will provide crossbeams for extra support. Ensure there is still enough space to comfortably walk all the way around your pool. Placing it completely in a corner could make it difficult for your midwife or birth partner to reach you effectively.
In addition when considering where to place your pool, you will need to consider:
Preparing the Space
Once you've picked a location, thoroughly clean the area and in particular remove sharp objectives, electrical items and trip hazards.
Place your waterproof sheet down to protect the floor from splashes. Beware that waterproof sheets can be slippery when wet. Sticking the sheet to the floor using double-sided tape or masking tape can be helpful.
Laying a rug, a piece of carpet or a thick blanket or quilt under your pool can help to protect it if the floor is rough or uneven. It can also prevent heat loss into the floor and provide extra padding, especially if your pool does not have an inflatable floor.
Inflating Your Pool
It’s important to refer to the instructions that came with your pool to ensure you inflate it correctly. Generally speaking though:
To prevent any nasty surprises on your big day, conduct a trial inflation of your pool and preferably leave it erected for 24 hours. You don’t want to discover, while you’re in labour, that your pool has a puncture or you have underestimated the space required to erect it.
Fitting the Liner
Unfold the liner. If your pool has handles, locate the handle slots in the liner. Then:
Filling Your Pool
The easiest and quickest way to fill your birthing pool is to use a hose. Always use a new hose as an old house can contain bacteria. Consider using a drinking water hose as many garden hoses are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which uses lead as a stabilizer.
Utilise your tap adapter fittings to attach your hose to an indoor tap. If possible use a tap with a mixer (hot and cold through the one tap) and fill your pool with warm water. If you are using separate hot and cold taps:
During birth the water must be normal body temperature, around 37 degrees Celsius, to ensure the water temperature will not be a shock to the baby as it is born.
Oh No! We’re out of hot water
If you don’t have an instant hot water heater you may find yourself out of hot water before your pool is filled. Don’t panic!
Keeping Your Pool Warm
If your pool has a cover, ensure this is kept on while the pool is not in use. This will help to minimise the need for top ups.
To raise or lower the pool temperature, remove some water with a new, clean bucket and top up with either hot or cold water as required. If you're topping up the birth pool from a kettle, make sure you add the water away from the sides of the pool and mother.
You can check the pool temperature using a bath thermometer keeping the temperature of birth pool water lower than 37 degrees Celsius.
After the Birth
To find out more about packing up a birth pool after the baby is born check out our article 'How to Pack Up a Birth Pool'.