Woman being passed her newborn baby after giving birth in water

What are the benefits of water birth and using water in labour?


Planning a waterbirth is growing in popularity and for good reason. I mean, who doesn’t love getting in a lovely comforting bath? Or sinking into a swimming pool on a hot day?

Being in water brings us all sorts of comforts, and the same is true for labour and birth. Studies also show that even being neat water helps to put un into our parasympathetic nervous system (our system of calm), which we need to be in to labour efficiently. 

I have had 2 water births, and the relief I felt the moment I stepped into that birth pool was wonderful. I felt lighter, calmer, and instantly more comfortable.

So what are the benefits of having a waterbirth?

Woman leaning on the side of a birth pool at home

There are so many benefits to both labouring, and birthing your baby in water. Not only for you, but also for baby! A recent study by Burns et al (2022) highlighted that use of water in labour: 

  • Significantly reduces the use of epidural
  • Reduces the use of episiotomy
  • Lowers maternal pain experienced
  • Increases maternal satisfaction
  • Lowers chance of perineal tearing 
  • Lowers the risk of postpartum haemorrhage (excess bleeding after birth)


It can also:

  • Give ease of movement- it is easy to get into those wonderful upright, forwards and open birth positions when you are supported by water.
  • Lowers cortisol and adrenalin- increases oxytocin and endorphins! Being calmer and more relaxed allows your birthing hormones to flow around your body, and a calm mind= a relaxed body. A relaxed body is able to labour more comfortably and more efficiently.
  • Calm baby- babies born in the water are often said to be calmer, and have a gentle transition into the world. If you watch some of the lovely birth videos I share you will see water born babies don’t always cry immediately. That’s because they are born into a similar environment that they have been in the womb- aquatic, dark, and warm.

Where can I have a waterbirth?

You can have a Waterbirth in most birth settings.

Woman labouring in a birth pool, being supported by her partner and midwives

At home, you can hire a birth pool. If you are using a birth pool at home- do a dry and wet practise run. This is to check you have space for it where you are planning to put it, and then to test how long it takes to fill!

woman embracing her birth partner in the birth pool using hypnobirthing newbury

At a birth centre, there are often at least a couple of rooms with birth pools in, and occasionally there is the option for a inflatable pool to be put up if a water room isn’t available. You can read about what’s available for water birth near Newbury, Thatcham and Hungerford.

You may be surprised to hear that even labour wards sometimes have the use of a birth pool- if you know you will be birthing on delivery suite and would like to use water speak to your midwife. Of course- you can’t always guarantee a birth pool will be available, for example if you are hoping to have a water birth at Royal Berkshire Hospital I know they currently have 2 pools in the Rushey Birth Centre, and 1 in the labour ward. 

Remember even if a birth pool isn’t available, you can be creative and use a bath or shower for comfort instead!

What should I wear for a waterbirth?

Whatever you like! Some woman prefer a bra or bikini top, some want to be naked. However you feel comfortable is totally fine.

What else do I need to know?

Not much! Like anything in birth- keep an open mind. Perhaps you think you’ll love a Waterbirth, and on the day you want to get out and be on dry land. Or vice versa. Practically speaking, if you want to get out to have a change or use the loo, that’s totally fine. Your partner can come in if you want, or they can be doing soft touch massage from the side.



Are you planning a Waterbirth? Get in touch if you have any questions!

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