I was fortunate to attend a study day recently led by Dianne Garland, a midwife for many years and expert in the field of water birth. Dianne teaches on the subject around the world, as well as still working within the NHS and an inspector of hospitals, amongst other roles!

Research has shown that when women labour in water there is less pain, shorter labours and less intervention. It makes perfect sense to me that when women relax, with warmth encouraging the muscles to ease and soften, there will be less resistance to the progress of labour, reducing pain and accelerating the journey. On numerous occasions I have witnessed the immediate relief felt by women as they lower themselves into the pool – that visible “Ah!” as their bodies relax in the warmth of the water. The buoyancy of being in the pool also enables women to change position more easily, something we know aids the baby’s progress through the birth canal and aids comfort. A quiet atmosphere soon settles in the room, voices become a whisper, the lights are dimmed and a tangible sense of peace and power is felt.

To labour and birth in the pool you must have a straightforward, healthy pregnancy and baby at term (37-42 weeks). If you are able, I would strongly recommend you giving it a try! You may choose to combine it with using entonox (gas and air) whilst in the water and you can get out whenever you wish. Hydrotherapy is well known for providing many physical and emotional/psychological benefits; it is wonderful that women can use this to enhance their labour and birth experience.