Pregnancy is such an exciting time in a woman’s life, and the question should I have a home birth is often one of the first that spring to mind. Mothers-to-be don’t make this choice lightly. However, home birth statistics are rather favorable for women with low-risk pregnancies, and studies continue to show it is safe for those mommas to plan to birth at home. (Source).

One of the initial questions that you may happen upon when planning for your home birth is how exactly will you bring your baby Earthside?

Truth be told, no one can really be sure about this ahead of time. But a lot of women want to try their hand at water birth if they’re shooting for a natural birth at home anyway. And why not? Water can be a very therapeutic tool in the birthing momma’s arsenal!

That said, while the pressure of a shower on your lower back during contractions — especially back labor — can feel amazing, the true extent of water’s magical properties is only felt when your belly is fully submerged in water. Enter, the birth pool.

What Is A Birth Pool?

While some of us are pretty deeply immersed in birth culture, many women don’t fully understand the purpose of a birth pool. Sometimes referred to as a birthing tub, the birth pool is a portable vessel for water. It can be used to mitigate pain during labor. You can choose to birth in the water, or you may want to labor in it but get out at some point to land birth. There’s no right or wrong way to use a birth pool.

There are many different kinds of birthing tubs. Some are pliable, while others are firm and structured. There are also blow-up varieties. Most of these are actually children’s swimming pools that expectant mothers opt for out of convenience and to stay within their budget.

Some women also choose to labor and birth in their own bathtubs, but this is generally recommended only if well-sanitized and if the tub is deep enough to allow for the woman’s entire abdomen to be submerged in water.

How Can A Birth Pool Help Me?

Are you wondering how a birth pool can help you during labor? Many midwives refer to water as “nature’s epidural.” We’ve all indulged in the luxury of a hot bath from time to time. It can soothe aching muscles after tackling a charity marathon; it can be the pain relief many of us need in the days leading up to our periods. But how does laboring in the water in a birthing pool help?

Laboring in water — even if you don’t give birth in it — is one of several ways to help dull the pain of contractions. It can diminish the intensity of back labor, too. As those waves of pain come over you, submersion in water can assist you in riding them rather than fighting back against them.

Part of the reason we are so inclined to push back against pain in a physical sense — often tensing up our whole body in the process — is because gravity is already working against us.

But pain is progress when it comes to labor. Any attempt to push back at that pain also pushes back at your progress, thereby making the end result of having your bundle of joy in your arms take longer to come to fruition.

Some women who have birthed in the water have figured out how to give birth naturally without pain. Submersion in a birth pool full of water can help in a number of ways, including:

  • Diminishing the ring of fire — some mommas report the ring of fire, felt as the skin of the perineum stretches upon crowning, not being as intense underwater as it was with their land births
  • Muting the intensity of contractions — these waves of pain may be more bearable with the water supporting your midsection
  • Helping to numb the effects of gravity — with gravity pulling down on your body at this time, it can help alleviate that pressure when you’re submerged and floating freely
  • Slowing contractions that are coming too fast — if labor is happening too quickly for you to bear, or the midwife needs more time to make it to your house, the water may actually help to slow things down

Are Birth Pools Safe?

Many women are curious about having a baby in the water in a birth pool. They contemplate whether it’s really safe. Mommas like yourself are often confused about whether there is any risk to themselves or their baby. Because of the diving reflex, your baby’s body already knows how to swallow fluid instead of inhaling it. Due to this, he or she will not inhale the water from the birth pool into their lungs. (Source)

Still, there are some factors that need to be considered when you are determining the safety of using a birthing pool under your own specific circumstances.

First and foremost, it’s important that no other children are left to play around the birthing pool unattended when it is full of even a small amount of water. Both secondary and dry drowning are a concern with even scant amounts of water. (Source)

In addition, if you are wanting to embrace the idea of water birth, you should consider the temperature of the water you will use. Some women are not keen on being very warm at all; on the flipside, other women really love their baths to be piping hot. Both of these ends of the temperature spectrum can present problems. Consider where your comfort level lies.

The temperature of the water needs to remain around 97 degrees Fahrenheit when the baby is born. (Source) While it can be warmer or cooler when you are in labor, it will need to be brought to the correct temperature as the birth is nearing by adding either cooler or warmer water.

Is A Birth Pool Always Necessary?

Is it absolutely necessary to have a birth pool to have a home birth? No. Many women prefer land birthing, but many also don’t figure that out until they try water birth first.

That said, if you do opt for a birth pool, you should consider the following in the decision-making process.

1. Make sure a home water birth isn’t against the terms of your lease.

If you don’t own your home, it’s wise to give your lease a good, thorough read-through before jumping ecstatically aboard the water birth at home train. Why? Because some landlords actually won’t allow the use of a temporary birthing pool in the homes they rent.

This is generally out of concern for leakage or for the weight of the water on floorboards. But the bottom line is, you want to know what legal parameters you’re working with.

Should your lease actually threaten to pox your birth pool plans, you can certainly reach out to your landlord with a basket of muffins and a smile before begging for their permission to do it anyway.

2. Ask yourself: How big does the birth pool need to be?

Who is going to be using the birthing pool is important to take into account. Obviously, you plan to be in the water, but is your partner possibly jumping in as well? You’ll want to make sure the pool is spacious enough for two or more if this is going to be a family affair.

Depth also matters a great deal, because the pool needs to be deep enough to allow for the water to cover your entire bump when you’re in it.

Not every birthing pool is created equally, as is demonstrated in the table below comparing the diameters of multiple different brands of birthing pools.

Kid Fish
Birth In A Box
Width54″53″ x 41″44″50″ 56″ x 45″

3. The bottom of your birth pool also requires some thought on your part.

You’ll want to lend some thought to what kind of bottom the birth pool has for your bottom. Yes, momma, comfort is of the utmost importance at a time like this. You’ll want to know whether the base of your birthing pool has any cushion for the pushin’.

It’s not necessarily a dealbreaker if it doesn’t come with any kind of padding; it just means you’ll want to be prepared to add your own in the form of foam tiles or lots of bath towels.

4. Make sure your birth pool offers enough support.

Some pools have a squishy exterior and others are as hard as a rock, or at least as really sturdy plastic. What appeals to you and your individual birthing plans is what matters.

If you’re intending to have your partner in the pool with you to provide all the support you’ll need, then the sides of the pool may not matter to you as much unless he too will need support behind him. However, if you’re hoping to be able to lean against the sides of the pool or even over them during contractions, you’ll want a pool that can hold your weight.

Smaller pools with flimsy sides just can’t do this without collapsing and allowing water to escape all over the place. Keep in mind firmer pool walls can be softened for your comfort by laying a towel on the edge. Some women also opt to cut down the side of a foam pool noodle and pop it onto the top of the pool wall as an additional comfort measure.

5. Do you know how to fill a birth pool?

You might be wondering about the details regarding how to fill a birth pool. It starts with your hot water heating tank. You’ll want to know how big your water heater is compared to how many gallons of water you’ll need to fill the birthing pool. If it seems like you may need two or more tanks to do the job, you might want to consider turning the temperature up on the water heater when labor begins.

This way, the water going into the birth will be extremely hot and can be mixed with more cold water, thereby getting you more heat from one tank of water. If you do choose to go this route, you’ll want to make sure everyone in the home that day is aware that the hot water is very, very hot.

6. Ensure you’ve got the hookup.

You wouldn’t be the first woman to find herself perplexed by the difficulty of finding the right adapters and hoses for their home birth pool set-up. But you’ll need to get it worked out, and the sooner the better for the sake of your sanity. You will need a new garden hose for filling the pool and it will need to be long enough to reach to whichever water source you are using.

You’ll need to purchase an adapter at any home improvement store or buy one online. One end will screw onto the hose and the other onto your faucet. Don’t be surprised if you buy one while convinced it’s the correct one and get home to find out it doesn’t fit. If all else fails, measure them and buy a hose adapter online.

7. Educate yourself on the necessity of keeping the water temperature stable, and how to do it.

While it’s important to make sure the water is at a safe temperature for your baby’s birth, it’s also important that you are kept as comfortable as possible while laboring. One great feature to have is a birthing pool that can help regulate the water temperature. The AquaDoula birth pool is a popular choice because of this feature.

There are not any birthing pools that can heat up water. So, even birth pools that regulate temperature are only going to maintain what you’re putting into it.

That said, it might be a home birth must-have on your wish list if you’re not keen on the idea of running out of hot water or constantly boiling pots of it to keep things going comfortably.

8. Figure out who’s in charge of cleaning up.

While there’s a whole lot of thought being put into what labor and birth will be like, it can be easy to overlook what happens afterward. You’re going to busy lying in, breastfeeding and getting to know your new son or daughter. So who is going to clean up the birthing pool post-birth? If this responsiblity will fall on your partner, do they know how to clean up a birth pool?

Often, the midwife who attended the birth will tend to this chore while you’re enjoying the golden hour, but not always. If it’s important to you that your partner not have to deal with this on their own, it’s wise to ask these questions up front in the beginning of your pregnancy when meeting with midwives, among other important questions. If it’s too late for that, you’ll want to think about clean-up methods and how to make the process as easy as possible for your partner.

While cheap, inflatable pools can be tossed in the trash if you choose, they still need to be properly drained. So, the hard part isn’t really easier on that front by going with a kiddie pool.

Consider having the following on hand for clean-up time:

  • A scoop net — this is used to remove debris, such as clumps of vernix, stool or meconium
  • A water removal pump or siphon — this is what will essentially make the water move backward against gravity and out of the birth pool
  • A place in mind for dumping the water — usually, a bathtub or laundry sink drain work just fine for this
  • Another hose — this one doesn’t have to be pristine and new as it’s simply carrying the wastewater away
  • A large trash bag — use this to dispose of your pool liner
  • Sanitizing tools — it’s up to you whether you’ll use antibacterial soap or something like Hibiclens, but the interior will need a good scrubbing

9. Ponder this: How much does a home water birth pool cost?

Are you renting or buying? A good cost-benefit analysis will come in handy here when examining what an at home birth cost can tally up to. You can often rent birth pools from your midwife for around $200 to $300, but some women also prefer to buy their own — especially if they intend on birthing in it multiple times or renting it out to their own friends. Most birth pools can be purchased as part of a home water birth kit.

There are many birth pools to choose from and these are only a few of them, but this breakdown should give you a solid comparison of just how widely they can range in cost if buying online from sites like

AquaDoulaLaBassineOasis RoundKid Fish
Birth In A Box

10. Consider what everyone else thinks.

This is the only feature of your birth that another person’s thoughts really might make a difference. Ask for others’ opinions. Hop into those mom groups online or speak with friends who’ve had home water births. Ask what kind of birth pool they used and whether there was anything about it they really loved or really disliked. If you have a specific birthing pool in mind already, scope out reviews for it on several different websites to get an idea of what the customer base really thinks, and go from there.

Lending some thought to these factors can greatly improve the outcome of your birth. Keep in mind that this list is not all-inclusive though. There are plenty of things to plan for a water birth, and getting a birth pool certainly adds a few more things to think about.

Make sure to check out our Ultimate Home Birth Checklist to ensure you are fully prepped for the big day. Armed with this list, you’ll rest peacefully while waiting on baby knowing that the perfect birth pool awaits you both. Good luck, momma!

Hey Momma, Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Hey Momma, Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailling list so you don't miss out on our great articles, product reviews, and special offers.  We don't like spam, just like you, so we send only a few emails a month that contain only best stuff.

Boom! Here comes the good stuff Momma!