Water Birth

Wondermum – The Birth Pool and Natural Pregnancy Health Specialists
Water Birth Resources:

Your introduction to having a natural water birth at home

Birth Pool Hire Frequently Asked Questions:

Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions for birth pool for sale and for hire, birthing pool hire, water birth and home birth: What are the benefits of having a water birth at home? Why does Wondermum strongly recommend using an Original non-toxic liner? Do I need a birth pool liner? Can I use a heater in my birth pool? What temperature must the water be for water birth? Which birthing pool would be suitable? Can I hire a birthing pool? Do you ship to Rural NZ Addresses?

With the sudden increase in natural births, many families are now interested in the use of water for labour and birth. You may have heard of some benefits of birthing in the water, but lots of women have also come to birthing professionals with common fears or myths. Let’s dive right in and learn about how water can help you have your baby naturally!


Which birth pool should I use? Is the La Bassine or the Birth Pool in a Box the best option for me? Find out more.


What is water birth?

When babies are born in water that is approximately the same temperature as mom’s body heat, they have been born via water birth. Mums who are unable or do not wish to give birth in the water can still benefit from labouring in a birthing pool, there are many options.

What are the benefits of water birth? How can a water birth benefit me and my baby?
    • Babies spend around 40 weeks living in warm water, so the transition from the birth canal to equally warm water is much less stressful.
    • Being in the water could reduce the time that you are in labor! Lots of women report stepping into the birthing pool and going from halfway dilated to fully dilated and pushing within one hour!
    • Water birth can reduce the amount of maternal blood loss.
    • Babies born in the water tend to be calmer, quieter and more ready to breastfeed.
    • Greater comfort and mobility. This is a biggy and probably why most woman LOVE labouring in water. Labouring and birthing in body temperature water can significantly reduce contractions, labour pains, pressure or waves that happen during labour, especially during the transition period (which is probably the trickiest part of labour, approx 7 to 10 cm). The pain from having a back labour can also be significantly reduced as the effects of gravity is lessened and by having more range of movement. You can easily change your position in the water or grab on to the side of the birthing pool and float your contractions away.
    • The mother has much greater ease and freedom to move spontaneously and to change position to aid in descent of the baby.
    • Reduction of pressure on the abdomen. Buoyancy promotes more efficient uterine contractions and better blood circulation, resulting in better oxygenation of the uterine muscles, less pain for the mother and more oxygen for the baby.
    • Helps mother to conserve her energy. Immersion reduces opposition to gravity; supporting the mothers weight so that her energy can be used to cope with the contractions.
    • Promotes deeper relaxation. As a woman relaxes deeply in water, her hormones are released and she starts progressing faster with more rhythm: labour becomes more efficient.
    • Water birth could reduce the amount of tearing during the pushing phase since the tissues are well hydrated and mum can easily and comfortably control her pushing. It also reduces the chance of an episiotomy. Water relaxes the pelvic floor muscles, as it softens the vagina, vulva and perineum leading to fewer injuries to these tissues.
    • Water minimises the pain so effectively for most women, that it reduces or eliminates the need for analgesia.
    • If analgesia is required it is in lower doses and is potentiated by the effect of the water.

Immersion is more safe and effective than an epidural.

  • Water stimulates the touch and temperature nerve fibres in the skin. It blocks impulses from the pain fibres, known as the “Gate Theory of Pain”.
  • Facilitates a dysfunctional labour. Water can be an effective way to stimulate dilation of the cervix when the mother has difficulty progressing into the active stage of labour.
  • Water can reduce the need for drugs to artificially stimulate labour. Often, simply getting into the pool (or out of) will result in dramatic and rapid progress to full dilation within an hour or two.
  • Lowering of blood pressure. When anxiety is causing high blood pressure, immersion in water often helps relieve it. The effect is heightened if the room is darkened.
  • Change of consciousness. Immersion helps relive anxiety and promote relaxation. Water encourages women to let go and focus inward as labour progresses.
  • Easier breathing. Moisture in the air makes it easier to breathe without the mouth becoming dry and is helpful for women with asthma. Also decreases the tendency to hyperventilate.
  • Facilitates the second stage of labour. Many women are less inhibited in the water.
  • Many women experience rapid second stages when immersed, with the baby emerging minutes after the body begins pushing, also known as the foetus ejection reflex. (see Michael Odent – The Nature of Birth and Breastfeeding).
  • It reduces the “ick” factor for some women and encourages both parents to touch the baby whilst birthing.
  • Being in the pool reduces the possibility of intervention by birth attendants. Their visibility is somewhat reduced and they cannot touch the perineum or baby as it emerges unless the mother chooses to let them.
  • The ability for birth attendants to intrude is reduced. They are less likely to interfere with the actual birthing without the woman’s consent & willingness to move and allow access.
  • Skin to skin time is facilitated.
  • Initial breast contact is also easier to initiate as the woman is already naked.
  • The cord continues to pulse strongly for an extended period resulting in baby receiving his full blood volume.
  • Birthing in water feels somehow softer and is a more gentle experience.
Can I hire a birth pool? Do you ship to Rural NZ Addresses?

Yes, we offer birth pool hire to rural addresses. We can ship our birth pools to almost anywhere in New Zealand. Please contact us to arrange shipment to your location.

Can I combine shipping for a pool hire and other purchases?

Of course! If you purchase other products that you would like to have send with your birth pool, you only need pay for the Birth Pool Hire shipping.

Which Birth Pool should I use?

The Birth Pool you choose for your water birth should be big enough to sit in comfortably and deep enough for the water to come up to armpit level, so as to get an adequate degree of buoyancy. For actual birthing the water should be comfortably below mothers breasts, and needs to be deep enough that her bottom should never come out of the water. Both the La Bassine and Birth Pool in a Box are good professional quality birthing pools. The eco La Bassine pool holds less water than the Birth Pool in a Box and may be a better option if you have a small hot water tank or low water pressure. If you plan on having your partner join you in the birth pool then the Birth Pool in a Box would provide more room to move. You can see our comparison chart here.

How long does it take to set up a birthing pool?

An inexperienced person can usually have the birth pool set up, inflated and filled with water in 30-45 minutes. We recommend that you have a trial run before your due date, so as to get comfortable with the procedure. Having the birth pool ready and inflated beforehand can also save time and free up your support person for when labour starts. We recommend you test your birth pool for hire prior to labour starting.

Why does Wondermum only supply Original Liners with all hires?

For your and baby’s safety we only recommend and stock the non-toxic and eco-friendly Original Liners. All our hire pools come with an Original Liner. Read more about toxic liners here.

Do I have to use the Birth Pool Liner?

Yes, the birth pool liners must be used! This is absolutely essential to ensure hygiene and safety for mum and baby.
Please do not use the pool without a liner – ever. Liners are for single use only.

How do I inflate the Birthing Pool

Please use the electric air pump provided to inflate your birthing pool. Make sure the pool has been stored at room temperature prior to inflating. Inflating a cold pool can cause brittleness or damage to the plastic. Please do not use any other pumps or industrial equipment to inflate the pool as this may damage the pool. DO NOT OVER INFLATE your birthing pool, over inflation may damage the valves and cause a slow leak.

How long does it take to fill a birthing pool?

It takes about 20 minutes to fill a La Bassine Birth Pool, depending on your water pressure. It can take up to 2.5hrs if you have a small hot water tank or really low water pressure. Check the Birthing Pool in a Box instructions page for tips on filling your birth pool fast.

How should I fill the birth pool?

ALWAYS use a drinking water quality hose to fill your pool, never a garden hose as it contains harmful chemical toxins. Use clean drinking water to fill the pool: if it is pure enough to drink, it is pure enough to give birth in. You do not need any additives. Do not add any essential oils into the pool. Use a mix of hot & cold water, do not fill with boiling hot water first as this will damage the pool. If you need to heat the pool fast, a jug of boiling water can be added MAKING SURE NOT TO BURN THE BIRTHING MOTHER OR DAMAGE THE SIDES OF THE POOL.

Remember that the water rises by 3 to 4 cm for each person who enters the tub and allow for this as you are filling. Fill the tub to 30 cm from the top, and then add more water as necessary to avoid spilling of water. Do a test run by timing how long it takes so that you are prepared when your labour starts.

What temperature should the water in my birthing pool be?

The water temperature should be between 35 – 37C. Adjust the temperature to your comfort, but ensure it is never too hot. It is a good idea to have plenty of water to drink and cold cloths for birthing mother’s face and neck. A cool facial mist from a spray bottle can be comforting. If the water temperature drops during the birth, do not worry as babies do better at birth with lower rather than hot temperatures. Buy a bath thermometer to go with your birth pool hire here. You can always use it after for checking babies bath temperature!

How deep should the water be for water birth?

The water should come up to armpit level. For actual birthing the water should be comfortably below mum’s breast and deep enough so your bottom does not come out of the water. The La Bassine birth pools hold around 450l of water.

Can I use a Water Heater in the Birthing Pool?

Please do not use any heating device in the birth pool, water heaters will cause damage to inflatable birthing pools. The best way to prepare your birth pool is to have it set up and inflated from about 2 weeks before your due date. Keep the birthing pool covered with a clear heat retaining cover or a sheet to prevent dust and dirt getting into the birth pool. Then once labour starts you can start filling the birthing pool about half way with very warm water, but not hot or boiling water as this will damage the liner and/or pool. Once the labouring mum is ready to get into the birth pool, you can then continue to fill the pool with water. If the water starts to cool down, a jug can be used with boiling water to warm up the water quickly (taking care of course not to burn the mum or the sides of the pool). See Birth Pool in a Box page for more information on heating water for a birth pool and filling times.

Do I need a birth pool heat retaining cover?

A birth pool cover is great for keeping the water warm. If you get out of the pool during labour or have filled the pool but are not ready to get in yet, you could use a birth pool cover to stop things from getting into the pool and keep heat from getting out. If you are not using the birthing pool for a while, you may need to add some warm water even if you were using a cover.

What do I need for my Home Birth Room?

The floor should be strong enough to support the weight of the birth pool when full. The birthing room floor should have a blanket and/or tarpaulin (included in your birth pool hire) underneath it if pool is being used straight on concrete or tiles to help maintain the water temperature. The room should be large enough to allow access from all sides. Heat the room to personal comfort , have heated towels and blankets ready for mother and baby.

What can I eat or drink during labour?

Make sure to drink plenty of water as adequate hydration is very important during labour. Drink to thirst. Ask your birthing partner to remind you to drink about 150 ml every hour to avoid dehydration, which can result in fatigue and a poorly functioning uterus. Baby can also show signs of distress if you are dehydrated. Eating and drinking during labour has been shown to reduce the total length of labour by as much as 90 minutes. Eat light, easily digested food if you feel hungry. Avoid highly refined sugary snacks, as sugar increases the release of stress hormones that interfere with natural birth hormones such as oxytocin. Read more about oxytocin on our Wondermum Natural Pregnancy, Birth and Breastfeeding Blog.

When can I get Into my birthing pool?

This is a very personal decision and many experts have differing opinions on when is best to get in a birthing pool. In general, wait until you have a strong desire to be in the water. Some recommend waiting until you are about 5cm dilated, since you want to save the pain relieving effect for the time you need it most or for transition. You may like to use the shower in the mean time. Some women find getting into a birth pool can help speed up their labours.

If labour slows down when you are outside the water, try getting into the pool as this might stimulate labour. If your progress slows down whilst you are in the pool, get out, empty your bladder and move around to stimulate labour. Often it is the CHANGE of environment that gets labour moving again. Stress can also slow labour down, check our useful articles on birth on our blog for more information on staying calm, relaxed and how this can benefit your labour.

What Birth positions can I use in the birth pool?

You might like to experiment with a variety of different positions while in the birth pool to find whatever feels best for you. Try kneeling, squatting, leaning, sitting or lying outstretched. Some women prefer their partner to be in the tub with them to hold onto and act as an anchor, others prefer to be in the pool alone.

What about debris in the birth pool?

A sieve/debris net can be used to remove any clots, mucous, faeces or vomit from the water as soon as possible. But don’t spend lots of energy worrying about this. Remember that the solution to pollution is dilution! We have debris nets for sale here.

How long should the baby stay under water after a water birth?

It is a good idea to discuss this with your birth attendants ahead of time. Many people feel comfortable with the time that it takes the mother to reach down and pick the baby up herself.

How does the baby breathe if born in the birth pool?

It is the change of temperature that causes baby to take their first breath, the pool water needs to be body temperature at time of birth. Until the baby is lifted out of the birth pool oxygen will still be delivered through the cord via the placenta. Talk this through with your LMC.

What about birthing the placenta?

Some people choose to stay in the pool after the birth and bond with the baby. They should birth their placentas out of the water due to the “theoretical” risk of a water embolism. This ought to be discussed with your birth attendant ahead of time. If the placenta is slow to come, get out of the pool, put a bowl in the toilet and the placenta will likely come out easily into the bowl whilst you are sitting there with a warm blanket or towel around you.

How do I clean the birth pool?

Remove any debris with a sieve/debris net before you use the pump to pump the water out. Remove and dispose of the liner. Clean the La Bassine tub with a cloth soaked in a gentle non-abrasive cleaner and rinse. Then use Dettol (or 10% solution of bleach diluted in water) and rinse thoroughly. Hang the hoses out of a window to drain any remaining water. Ensure the pool and equipment is completely dry before packing away.

Will my birth attendants get any infection I have from the water?

The infectious diseases birth attendants mostly concern themselves with are Hepatitis A, B, C and HIV. The sheer volume of water these viruses are diluted in at a birth would render them negligible; no one has ever caught these from a waterbirth that we know of. It would take a much more highly concentrated volume of blood to seroconvert for the average well person with good skin integrity. Even so, open abrasions or cuts should not be immersed unless well covered with waterproof dressing (for both your sakes) and long veterinary gloves can be worn by attendants if they feel they need protection.

How do I deflate the Birthing Pool?

Remove the plugs and encourage the air out by pressing gently on the birthing pool. The electric air-pumps we supply with our Birth Pools have the reverse suction for use to deflate the pool.

Do I get a refund if I do not use the Birthing Pool for my labour?

Unfortunately the Birthing Pool itself is unavailable for hire by someone else whilst it is in your possession. The Bond portion is refundable once all the items are returned in a clean and undamaged condition. Please note that the birth pool hire is for a maximum 4 weeks duration, with no minimum time limit. This means that the hire price is once off and non refundable.

Can I hire the birth pool for a longer duration?

Yes you can. If you would like to hire the birthing pool for a longer time, please contact us before the start of your hire to confirm time frame availability. There is a fee due for 2 week blocks at at time.

Can my friend use the birth pool if I am not going to?

No, the hire agreement is between the person who hires the birthing pool and Birth Pool Hire NZ & Wondermum.

Do I get a refund if I cancel my Birth Pool Hire?

If you have to cancel your birth pool hire booking, please do so as early as possible. There is a $50 non refundable booking fee. We usually provide a refund if you cancel your booking ahead of time. There is no refund provided after your pool has been shipped.

If you would like to hire a birthing pool, please click here. Or see this page for more information about birth pool hire terms & conditions.

I heard that there can be problems with a water birth, what are they? Are they true?

My baby will drown. This is simply not true. In a water birth, babies do not drown upon birth, as long as the mom’s pelvis is fully submerged in the water. Healthy babies have something called a “dive reflex” which keeps them from taking their first breaths until air hits their faces. Before they breathe air, they are still doing all of their breathing through their umbilical cord, which should stay uncut until it is white and limp. A newborn baby’s lungs are still used to inhaling and expelling water for a short time following childbirth. Babies born to both low risk mothers in and out of the water showed no signs of change in health outcome. (Pucek, Pellantova & Vebera, 2003) Your LMC will discuss any concerns that could cause your baby to breathe before they are ready during the prenatal period so you can decide if water birth is right for you.

My baby and I will get an infection if I go to the bathroom in the water in labour. It is true that a mom might have a bowel movement in the water, or that a baby may give off meconium (the baby’s first poop) in the water. However, these are factors that would also be a risk while birthing on a bed, with the possibility of added sources of infection such as gloved hands from a LMC, surgical instruments or instruments inserted into the vagina, such as amnihooks. It’s about weighing the possible risks and benefits for your situation.

You have to have a home birth or birth center to birth in the water. Absolutely not! While home birth or a birth centre birth may be a safe option for mums who fit in the low risk category, many hospitals are beginning to offer water birth options for natural birthing mums, along with birthing pools for mums who may not be able to birth in the water, but want the benefits of labouring in water. There is usually a limited number of birthing pools available in Birth Centres and Hospitals, it may therefore be a good idea to hire your own inflatable birthing pool from us here!

I will HAVE to have a natural birth if I fill up the birthing tub! Again, this is your birth experience! If the baby is not crowning, you still have options. If you are at home, you could transfer into the hospital should the need arise. If you are in the hospital, you can discuss your options with your LMC. Which leads us to our next common myth…

I can’t labour in the tub if I have an induction, right? This is actually becoming a big obstetric myth, as hospitals become savvy to the benefits of having induced mums labour actively, whether it’s walking the halls, bouncing on a ball or labouring in warm water, as this can help even an artificially induced labour progress faster with less pain. We have heard anecdotal reports from midwives who have seen induced mums progress faster upon entering into a birthing pool. If you have an induction, you should be able to request waterproof, wireless monitors which will allow you free range of motion. If this is not possible, there are some other options for monitoring during an induction that can allow you to labor where you’d like.

I cannot have a water birth if I am high risk. This is partially true, dependent on what types of risk are involved. Some complications that make water birth unsafe might include: full placenta previa (which at term will require a cesarean section for the safety of mum and baby), a situation where mum and/or baby are in measurable distress, maternal illness or disease and other factors which should be discussed with your LMC before birth. Even in some of these scenarios, it may still be safe to labor in the water with the proper monitoring. In the case where mum has been diagnosed with GBS, the chance of colonisation and infection with group B streptococcus (GBS) is reduced with water birth (Cohain 2010; Neugeborene et al. 2007).

Come armed with information and remember: This is your birth! At the end of the day, you control your care and you are always free to find someone who is more willing to discuss safe options for you and your baby. All mums envision a healthy baby at the end of their pregnancy and labour, it’s also just as important for woman to walk away from birth with a healthy, empowering experience.

For more information, please visit:


  • Experience of pain and analgesia with water and land births. EberhardJ,SteinS,GeissbuehlerV. JPsychosomObstetGynaecol. 2005 Jun;26(2):127-33.
  • Waterbirths compared with landbirths: an observational study of nine years. GeissbuehlerV,SteinS,EberhardJ.JPerinatMed. 2004;32(4):308-14.
  • Water delivery: a 5-year retrospective study. Pellantova S, Vebera Z, Pucek P. Ceska Gynekol 2003 May;68(3): 175-9
  • Resources for water birth benefits: Daniels, 1986; Balaskas, 1990; Lichy, 1993: Napierala, 1994 (Originally published at: http://www.bellybelly.com.au/articles/birth/preparing-for-a-waterbirth)
  • http://www.madeinwater.co.uk/pregnancy-guide/water-birth-information-resource/

This information provided here is not intended to be used as medical advice and is not intended to be taken in place of guidance from your LMC provider. Please contact your doctor, midwife or other pregnancy care provider for more information about water birth and if this is a suitable option for you. The information on this page has been based on current medical evidence as listed in Sources, as well as anecdotal and personal experience.

Wondermum, New Zealand Supplier and Distributor of Birthing Pools & Birth Pool Accessories
​Providing Natural Health for Pregnancy, Birth & Breastfeeding