University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Factors influencing the use of birth pools in the United Kingdom: Perspectives of women, midwives and medical staff

Milosevic, S., Channon, S., Hunter, B., Nolan, Mary, Hughes, J., Barlow, C., Milton, R. and Sanders, J. (2019) Factors influencing the use of birth pools in the United Kingdom: Perspectives of women, midwives and medical staff. Midwifery, 79. Article no. 102554. ISSN Print: 0266-6138 Online: 1532-3099

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To identify factors influencing the use of birth pools.

Online discussion groups and semi-structured interviews, analysed thematically.

United Kingdom.

85 women and 21 midwives took part in online discussion groups; 14 medical staff participated in interviews.

Factors influencing the use of birth pools were grouped into three overarching categories: resources, unit culture and guidelines, and staff endorsement. Resources encompassed pool availability, efficiency of pool use and availability of waterproof cardiotocograph equipment. Unit culture and guidelines related to eligibility criteria for pool use, medicalisation of birth and differences between midwifery-led and obstetric-led care. Staff endorsement encompassed attitudes towards pool use.

Key conclusions
Accessibility of birth pools was often limited by eligibility criteria. While midwifery-led units were generally supportive of pool use, obstetric-led units were described as an over-medicalised environment in which pool use was restricted and relied on maternal request.

Implications for practice
Midwives can improve women's access to birth pools by providing information antenatally and proactively offering this as an option in labour. Maternity units should work to implement evidence-based guidelines on pool use, increase pool availability (even where there appears to be low demand), and enhance awareness amongst medical staff of the benefits of water immersion.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information:

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Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: water birth, childbirth, midwifery, obstetric care, qualitative research, health services accessibility
Divisions: College of Health, Life and Environmental Sciences > School of Nursing and Midwifery
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Depositing User: Mary Nolan
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2019 12:15
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2020 17:10

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