Information for women and your birthing partner
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Relaxing in water during labour and delivery has been used for many years and has been found to help with pain relief. It is now widely used by women in hospitals and in the community.
Both the Maternity Unit at the University Hospital of North Tees and the Rowan Suite at the University Hospital of Hartlepool have a birthing pool. We even have some inflatable birthing pools for you to use at your home birth, if required.
This leaflet gives you information about the use of a birthing pool during labour and delivery.
What does a birthing pool look like?
What are the benefits of using a birthing pool during labour?
Many women find a warm bath relaxing and when in labour this is no different. A birthing pool is deeper than an ordinary bath to allow you to move around more easily. This helps you to get more comfortable and helps your labour.
A birthing pool can sometimes offer full relaxation during your labour, meaning that sometimes, no further pain relief is required.
Who can use the pool?
Although using water is beneficial for everyone, there are some instances where it is safer for you and your baby to not use our pools. For this reason, we have a simple safety checklist:
- Your pregnancy needs to be of 37-42 weeks gestation.
- Your membranes (waters) should not have ruptured (broken) for more than 24 hours
- Your amniotic fluid (waters) must be clear
- You must not be pregnant with more than one baby
- Your baby must be coming head first (not breech)
- You should not have had a previous caesarean section
- Your weight should be under 15 stone 95.5.kg
If the birthing pool is already in use, out of order or if the delivery suite/birthing unit is too busy to support you appropriately, water birth may not be an option.
If you would like to use the birthing pool, please discuss this with your Midwife.
Do I have to book in advance to use the birth pool, and will it be available?
There is no need to book in advance to use of the pool, we have two pools – one at North Tees and one at Hartlepool. We cannot guarantee that it will be available when you need it.
There is no cost to yourself if you choose to use a hospital pool. Unfortunately, if you wish to use one of our loan pools at your home, this will be on a basis of women who reach 37 weeks first and will involve purchasing some equipment that is single use, only to be used by you.
What can I wear?
You can wear whatever you feel comfortable in. You may wish to wear a T-shirt, bikini top or a loose garment, or you may choose to wear nothing at all.
Do I need anything extra when using the birthing pool?
You may wish to bring an inflatable neck support/head rest to give you more comfort when you are in the pool. You may also want to bring a dressing gown to wrap you up and keep you warm when you come out of the pool. Flannels are useful to keep you cool.
We have some bluetooth speakers available for use, but if you have a portable one, it could be used to listen to your favourite music or meditation soundtracks.
What will happen when I am in the pool?
Once you are in the water, your Midwife will make sure you and your baby are well during your labour. Your temperature will be checked every hour, and your pulse will be checked every 30 minutes.
Your baby’s heartbeat will also be checked every 15 minutes to make sure that your baby is well and coping with labour.
The temperature of the water will be checked every hour and adjusted for your comfort. You will be offered drinks and something to eat.
Your Birthing Partner will play a very important role in supporting you while you are in the birthing pool. However, they will not be able to accompany you in the pool due to weight restrictions.
Can I have any other pain relief when I am in the pool?
You may use Entonox (gas and air) while you are in the pool, this combination has proved very effective for many women.
If you need pain relief by injection, your Midwife will ask you to leave the pool to have the injection. You will have to stay out of the pool for the next 2 hours.
You will have to stop using the pool if you choose to have an epidural. This is not available at the Rowan Suite at Hartlepool, but a transfer can be arranged if needed.
Do I have to stay in the water to deliver my baby?
You can get in and out of the pool as often as you wish during your labour. The choice is yours. You may prefer to stay in the water for delivery, or you may wish to stay in the water for the labour only, then leave the pool for delivery.
Following the birth of your baby, you will be assisted out of the pool for the delivery of the placenta.
Why might I be asked to leave the pool?
You might be asked to leave the pool if:
- Your waters break and the fluids are not clear.
- There is any difficulty in hearing your baby’s heartbeat, or any concern about your baby’s heartbeat.
- Your blood pressure, pulse or temperature become a cause for concern.
- You start to feel unwell, dizzy or faint.
- You need pain relief by injection.
- Your Midwife is concerned that your labour or delivery is not progressing as normal.
Your Midwife will let you know you when you can get back into the pool, it is your choice to do so.
- If you have an epidural.
- For delivery of the placenta (afterbirth).
How safe is it to use a birthing pool for labour and birth?
Research shows that there was no increased risk of death of a baby born in water compared to a baby born conventionally (on a bed).1
Who do I contact for more information about a water birth?
If you would like more information about a having a water birth, you should contact your community Midwife or staff at the Rowan Suite at the University Hospital of Hartlepool, Telephone: 01429 522875.
Water birth at home
We have 5 pools available for free home use. Please speak to your Midwife if you are considering using one.
If you have arranged a homebirth with your community Midwife and you are considering using a pool for the labour and birth, there are a number of points you need to consider:
- Hire/loan pools can be quite large – where in the house can it be placed?
- How much will the hire of the pool and the equipment cost? (should you choose to hire or purchase your own).
- Who will put the pool together?
- Can I fill the pool easily with water and how will I empty it, and who will do this for you?
- Can the water temperature in the pool be maintained at 37ºC, and who will do this?
If you need any further advice, or have any worries, please contact:
Community Midwives, Endurance House
7 days a week, 9.00am – 10.00am
Answering machines may be used
Telephone: 01642 383440
Telephone: 01642 383441
University Hospital of North Tees
24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Telephone: 01642 382718/ 01642 624240
Community Midwives, answering machine may be used
Telephone: 01429 522279
Telephone: 01429 522875
Day Unit – Hartlepool Hospital
Telephone: 01429 522879
Day Unit – Peterlee Community Hospital
Telephone: 0191 5863474
Comments, concerns, compliments or complaints
Patient Experience Team (PET)
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Telephone: 01642 624719
Freephone: 0800 092 0084
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Email: [email protected]
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Telephone: 01642 617617
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Telephone: 01642 383551
Email: [email protected]Privacy Notices
This leaflet has been produced in partnership with patients and carers. All patient leaflets are regularly reviewed, and any suggestions you have as to how it may be improved are extremely valuable. Please write to the Clinical Governance team, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, University Hospital of North Tees, TS19 8PE or:
Email: [email protected]
Leaflet Reference: PIL1367
Date for Review: 09/02/2025