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Birthing pool - how long can you stay in it? (long)

(7 Posts)
notcitrus Thu 18-Aug-11 10:02:47

When I gave birth 3 years ago, after 6 hours or so I went to the MLU at my hospital, deemed 5cm dilated in active labour (contractions every couple minutes) and as soon as it was full, got in the pool.
Stayed in it for the next six hours, when it was suggested that I might want to get out. I didn't want. After some discussion and me being stubborn, and them tracking down another midwife so the unit could stay open overnight, it was agreed that I could stay for another two hours, but then if I was still only 5cm I would have to get out as it could be slowing down my labour.

I was still 5cm, so was told I couldn't go back in. At this point my SPD somehow managed to get even worse (I'd been in a wheelchair when I arrived!), I couldn't sit, kneel, lie down or stand without screaming, and it was suggested I reconsider an epidural - which was wonderful. It took a max dose of syntocin and another 18 hours to get fully dilated, 35 hours labour by the time I had a ventouse delivery (there was meconium coming out so needed him out sharpish)

I'm pregnant again. I would consider a homebirth except I have SPD again so may need an urgent epidural again, plus ds stopped breathing an hour after birth and was in SCBU for a bit, so would prefer to be in the MLU a mere elevator ride from the delivery suite - besides, the MLU was lovely, like a spa with a crap decorators budget.

However, it's plausible I wouldn't have needed the epidural etc if I could have just stayed in the pool. Is it true that being in water can slow down labour, and is that a good reason not to stay in for more than 6-8 hours?
I know second labours are meant to be shorter but even half as long is 18 hours...

notcitrus Thu 18-Aug-11 15:25:23


MonaPomona Thu 18-Aug-11 21:35:30

My 2nd is due next week and at the nhs ante natal class the mw said barring something being really wrong, active labour the 2nd time around is 5 hours or less.
I am planning a home water birth and am reading a fab book about water birth called The Water Birth Book by Janet Balaskas which explains all about how and when and for how long to use water. the book explains that water can slow labour down usually if you go in too soon. Experienced mws should be able to judge all that and control the situation though.

notcitrus Fri 19-Aug-11 09:59:06

Thanks Mona.
Five hours or less sounds good! Though my friend who had a two-hour first labour and an even quicker second said that was really too fast and she couldn't really cope, so I suppose it's tough both ways.

Given I was contracting every couple minutes and was 5cm I suppose I was in as active labour as I was going to get. Knowing my luck I'll go into labour this time just after three other women get into the pools and spend 8 hours in them!

Spagbolagain Fri 19-Aug-11 10:04:42

Hi yes, I've read also that it can slow things down, that was on a birth pool hire website. They seemed to say that getting out for a bit sorts it out and you can get on again? I am PG now with my second and would be keen to try it. Hoping that the 5 hr thing is true......I spent 2days and 2nights contracticting every 2minutes with my first, should've been augmented earlier but no room on delivery suite till then!

So a quick one in a nice pool sounds wonderful!

Tangle Fri 19-Aug-11 12:26:48

Are you getting much support for your SPD? I recently saw a physio closely involved in the Pelvic Partnership charity, and she managed to work miracles in one session - I'll freely admit that my problem was much less serious than yours, but its also something that 3 other physios haven't managed to resolve over the last 3 years, so its definitely taught me the value of seeing someone with the pertinent experience and interest.

I think it would also be worth getting a good phsyio on board and hammering out a birth plan before you arrive at the MLU in labour - my view is that guidelines are a good starting point, but every woman comes with her own specific factors that will required those guidelines to be tailored to her as an individual. For some women that may mean no change at all, but for others a bigger tweak may be required. If your SPD means the only place you're not in agony is in the pool then that sounds to be a good reason for giving you more leeway (as long as you and baby are coping with the labour fine - things are just going slowly) rather than insisting that you get out and stay out - or at least discussing why they still feel getting out is imperative. (One of the reasons I refuse routine VE's in labour - if the only indication of a theoretical problem is that I'm not dilating at the prescribed average rate then, actually, I'd rather be in happy ignorance and left to get on with the job in peace and quiet!)

I always find the advice not to get in till you're 4 or 5cm's somewhat in conflict with the advice to "have a bath" to help get through early labour - I don't understand how the two are different confused

notcitrus Fri 19-Aug-11 21:22:31

Tangle - yes, thank you - I've been seeing the obstetric physio weekly and have a bunch of exercises to so 3x daily, and from next week I get the joy of the antenatal exercise classes at the hospital, which is similar core-body exercises under physio supervision, plus a bit of being poked about. The physio did some stretches of bits round my sacrum which have been painful for 20 years and I'd always been told it was congenital, and it's hugely improved. Shame the previous 8 physios never noticed.

The MLU/hospital were actually great with antenatal and delivery stuff, doing exams etc with me sitting down. That SPD actually could get worse from being unable to walk was a surprise to all concerned - apparently this is very rare.

Will discuss with MWs nearer the time. I'm good at saying no to all sorts of stuff and pushing for appropriate care for my long list of other special needs, so they'd better come up with some good reasons for me getting out of water next time.

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