Follow a water birth plan to achieve the gentle birth you want, either at home or in a hospital.
In the UK, the House of Commons Health Committe recommended that all hospitals should provide women with the option of a birthing pool.2
In the USA about two thirds of birth centers offer waterbirth as an option, but fewer hospitals offer water birth.
However, homebirth midwives are leading the way in offering water birth as a choice in the USA. Some midwives are also working towards getting water birth protocols accepted in hospitals.3
Some hospitals may allow you to bring your own birth pool, but to avoid disappointment it would be wise to investigate this option and get the necessary consent well in advance.
Should a pregnant women wish to have a water birth in a hospital or birth center, she needs to choose her birth venue and caregiver/s carefully. She needs a caregiver who supports her choice.
Waterbirth International (http://www.waterbirth.org) advises women to plan and pursue this birth option early on in pregnancy to allow time for changes to be made if a water birth is desired in an institution that does not yet have this option.
Waterbirth International will supply research studies, sample protocols, pool kits, videos and experience to help get policies changed. However, for success it takes time plus three essential ingredients:
Change in hospital policies needs to be consumer-driven. The introduction of water birth policies will progress more quickly if more clients request water births and are motivated to work toward achieving this as a permanent birth option.
For a water birth at home, a pregnant woman may need to find a supportive midwife, unless she is planning an unassisted childbirth. In the event of a midwife-attended homebirth, find out if the midwife hires out her own birth pool equipment or whether a water birth pool kit will have to be purchased or hired elsewhere.
Make sure that
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1. Royal College of Midwives. 2006. "Immersion in water during labour and birth." Joint Position Paper no. 1. London, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Royal College of Midwives.
2. House of Commons Health Committee. Second Report on the Maternity Services (Winterton report). London: HMSO; 1992.
3. Harper, B. Waterbirth Basics (sign up for free download)
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