Firstly if you are pregnant congratulations!
Always check any manufacturer instructions and information before setting up your Birthing Pool. You may wish to follow these guidelines and do a practice run so you know how to inflate your birthing pool correctly when the time comes-it's a great idea for nervous birth partners!
- Where to put your inflatable pool. Once you have your inflatable birthing pool, the first thing to consider is where to put it. A hard, concrete surface is preferable, but a hardwood floor should also be fine. If you're in any doubt, consult a qualified builder or engineer, or ask permission if you are renting.
Placing your birthing pool near (but not in) a corner is a great option since there will be crossbeams for extra support. Don't place your birthing pool completely in a corner. Doing so could make it difficult for your midwife to move around the entire pool, which means you'll have to move to her, something you may not wish to do mid-contraction!
You will find that most pools weigh about as much as 10-12 adults. If you're not worried about throwing a dinner party in a certain room, you shouldn't be worried about setting up your birthing pool there. Bear in mind that your pool will need to be within a certain distance (depending on the length of your hose, for example) of your taps and a drain so it's easy to empty your pool later. If you are using your pool in the summer you could empty it onto your lawn.
- Preparing the floor surface. Once you've decided on your birthing pool's location, thoroughly clean the area. In particular, as this is an inflatable pool, your floor should be clear of any sharp objects. Laying a rug, spare piece of carpet or a quilt under your pool could help if you have an uneven or rough floor.
Once your surface is clean, place a waterproof sheet on your floor as a base. This is sensible for catching any splashes and spills. You can cover your sheet with a few towels if you wish. Beware that waterproof sheets can be slippery, particularly when wet, so you may wish to stick the underside to the floor using double-sided tape.
- Inflating your Birthing Pool. Unpack your birthing pool according to its instructions, and lay it out right-side up. Use a hand- or electric-powered pump to start inflating your pool, using the valves from the bottom up. If your pool has an inflatable floor, start with this before moving on to the sides.
Pools that have 3 or more rings (or chambers) of air are better in the case of puncture. With only one ring, the whole pool would deflate when punctured. However, if a multiple-ringed pool is punctured, you would likely only lose a small portion of height, preventing a major flood and (hopefully) any major water damage to your floor-not to mention preventing the disappointment of not being able to use your birthing pool during labor!
Inflate your pool until it's firm to the touch, but do not over-inflate it. When water is added to your pool later it will create extra pressure on the inflated sides. Remember that you can always top up with air later, if necessary. Check that all valves are fully closed once the birthing pool is inflated. All good inflatable pools have one-way valves for pumping air in. There will be separate, larger valves for deflating the birthing pool (as seen with Birth Pool in a Box). After your pool is fully inflated, add the liner if your pool comes with one. Liners are provided for hygiene and flood safety reasons.
If this is a trial run, you should leave your birthing pool inflated in the place where you intend to use it for several hours. Any small punctures, holes or other defects may be hard to see immediately, but if left inflated overnight, you'll be able to tell if your birthing pool is leaking.
Note: Inflating your pool should take approximately 10 minutes depending on its size and the pump used.
- How to fill your pool. The easiest and quickest way to fill your birthing pool is to use a hose. Always use a new hose; an old garden hose could contain bacteria. Attach the required length of hose to your kitchen or bathroom faucet. If you have separate faucets for hot and cold water, begin by filling your birthing pool with hot water, then add cold water later until you reach the desired temperature. You should never fill inflatable pools with very hot water, so ensure that the water you're adding doesn't exceed 50 degrees C (122 degrees F)-follow the temperature guide in your birthing pool's instruction manual.
If you're topping up the birthing pool from a kettle at a later stage, make sure you add the water away from the sides of the pool and, more importantly, away from the mother -preferably add the hot water when Mom is out of the pool.
During birth the water must be 37 degrees C (98.6 degrees F), as this is roughly the same as the mother's body temperature. This ensures that the water temperature will not be a shock to the baby as it is born. This is one reason that many women feel a water birth is such a peaceful and natural choice: your baby is born into an environment similar the womb.
As you're filling your birthing pool, leave about 4 inches at the top to allow room for the water to rise slightly when you and/or your partner get in. Use a step on the outside to help you to get in and out of the pool. You can buy inflatable pools with built-in internal steps at sites like www.birthpoolinabox.co.uk.
If your birthing pool has a heat cover, leave this on when Mom is not in the pool. If not, top up, as required, with a kettle or from the hot water faucet by using a clean bucket to remove some the tepid water from the pool first.