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If you're having a water birth at home, then it's up to you to hire or buy your own pool. You also need to make sure your midwife is aware of your plans and is knowledgeable about water birth labours and deliveries.
What are your options?
You've got plenty of choice - there are rigid pools, inflatable pools and (height of luxury and priced accordingly) heated pools which come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. You can even buy a 'birth pool in a box' - pack it away post-birth, and bring it out in a few years when the kids need a paddling pool!
If you don't want to shell out on your own pool, there are loads of different companies offering a hire service - it's worth posting on the Mumsnet Childbirth Talk forum for recommendations.
As with TENS machines, the hire period normally runs from several weeks before your due date until several weeks afterwards. If you go over your due date you can normally arrange to pay by the additional day (but don't expect a refund if you don't end up using it for some reason).
Things you need to check
Before you buy or hire, do check that your floor (house, not pelvic) is strong enough to stand the weight of what is essentially a whopping paddling pool - and that you have enough room not only for the pool but for people to move around it.
It won't be terribly effective if you're not all able to get in the room at the same time, or you're worrying that your loft extension could collapse.
Plus, you need to have the water pressure and boiler power to fill it and keep it at a decent temperature.
There are no hard-and-fast safety recommendations on the temperature of the water but, roughly speaking, during the first stage of labour the water should be between 35-37°C and in the second stage it should be between 37-37.5°C.
Your midwife should check the pool temperature periodically. If you've hired a pool, it should come with a thermometer so that you (or someone somewhat less busy) can keep an eye on it.
It's important to keep the ambient room temperature comfortable for you and to make sure you keep your fluid levels up to avoid dehydration.
Throughout your labour, your midwife should regularly monitor your baby's heart rate using an underwater Doppler (foetal heart monitor).
If there are any concerns about your or your baby's health, you'll be whipped quickly out of the pool, so be prepared for that.
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