If you’ll be giving birth at home, consider using a birthing pool. Whether or not you decide to deliver in the water, you may enjoy laboring in a warm birth pool. At one reader’s request, I did some research for choosing and preparing your birth pool.
Your midwife may offer pool rental services. This is an eco-friendly choice, since professional grade pools can be reused to avoid waste. Be sure to ask questions so you understand what type of pool you’ll be using. Will it be big enough for one or two persons? Maybe you’ll want your partner to support you while you labor. Are the sides comfortable to lean against and high enough for your liking?
Also, what about toxicity? Most birth pools are made of vinyl, a phthalate-filled plastic that emits toxic fumes. Unfortunately, vinyl seems to be the only reasonable option for an inflatable pool, but there are ways to limit the toxicity. A new pool should be inflated and aired outside for 3-7 days (the longer the better), which will help toxic VOC’s to release. Your midwife probably provides a reusable pool with single-use liners. Ask if she can air out the liner for you, or leave it with you so that you can air it out. If your midwife’s reusable pool doesn’t include a liner, find out what cleaners she uses to disinfect the pool. Harsh cleaners must be rinsed excessively, so your baby isn’t born into a chemical soup. If at all possible, choose to rent a pool with a single-use liner, so cleaners aren’t necessary.
You may also choose to purchase your own birth pool. Don’t worry about getting one with a heater built-in. Vinyl easily retains heat, so this isn’t a problem for most births. One of the most popular birth pools is actually a kiddie pool! The Aquariumfishy pool has a padded floor and high sides that make it perfect for birthing. Moms report excellent results with this pool, which is sturdy and strong enough to lean against. Its affordable price ($30-40) makes it single-use without the need of a liner. But, buying and throwing out a toxic vinyl pool every time you give birth is not so eco-friendly.
I’ve only come across one birth pool made with phthalate-free vinyl – Birth Pool in a Box Eco. At $190, this birth pool is not cheap, but it’s certainly well-made. I can find nothing but good reviews! It has a seat, handles for stabilization, adjustable height and disposable liners. You’ll still want to air out this pool, but you’ll rest a little easier knowing that the plastic is more eco-friendly and non-toxic than other options. Buy an extra liner for use when you do a test run. And, when you’re done, you can store it carefully for your next homebirth or sell/give it to someone else who can use it! The plastic can be damaged by extreme heat or cold, so store at room temperature.
After purchasing or renting your pool, you’ve got some more work to do. You’ll want to test drive the pool. This sounds silly until you realize how many things can go wrong! You need a tarp to place underneath to protect your floors and discourage slipping. Next, you’ll need a pump for inflating the pool. Depending on your pump, it can take 30 minutes+ to inflate. If it takes long, consider keeping your pool inflated those last 2 weeks to cut down your setup time.
To fill your pool, you’ll need an aquarium hose or RV hose that runs to your sink. The shorter the hose the better, so as to keep that water warm. Add to that an adapter so that your hose can be fitted to a sink in your house. No, you don’t want to use a garden hose instead. There are hygenic problems with that approach! When you fill the pool, you’ll ideally use cold water for the first bit and then go to hot. This is so that the plastic is not damaged by exposure to scalding hot water. Lastly, you’ll need a method for emptying and deflating the pool. The bucket approach works, but will take a looooong time. With a newborn at hand, this is not a good time for tedious tasks.
So many steps! That’s why you need to do a trail run. The trial will give you confidence that your pool is airtight and watertight, plus it’ll ensure that you have all the right parts on hand for the big day. Be sure to time how long setup takes, so you know during labor what to expect. You can shop for all the various waterbirth supplies to inflate/deflate and fill/empty your birth pool at Your Waterbirth.
Enjoy your birth!