Guide to a water birth at home

Having a home birth can seem intimidating but it is actually one of the most peaceful places to have a birth. For me, being in the water allowed me to relax during contractions and gave me some relief from the pain of labour. Also being in the water allowed me to have my space and be able to move into positions easily. I have had a total of two water births at home and I wouldn't have wanted to give birth any other way.
Here are some helpful guidelines and tips to consider for having a water birth at home.

Consider what birth pool you will use.
Whether renting or buying there are a few options to consider. 
Most birth tubs are inflatable while there are a couple that are hard- shelled.
My first water birth I rented an Aqua Doula which is a hard-shelled tub that was heated.  The heater though, won’t heat the pool from cold and since our first labour was quite long, it didn’t last the length of our labour which was was unfortunate.
I also found it really hard on my arms and knees as it is not padded. (Think post work-out sore )

For my second birth we used an inflated birth pool called Le Bassinet Maxi. I decided I wanted the bigger size for more room to move as well as the option of having enough room for another person if needed. I would highly recommend this tub. We choose to buy ours as I didn't find a rental option in our area for this tub, as well as it was a reasonable price.  I found the handles really helpful in positioning myself during contractions and for support. The inflated floor and walls were much kinder on my body and supported my weight easily without the post birth soreness I felt with the hardshell. 

I have heard that some woman opt for a kiddy pool as a cheaper option for a water birth, But I would highly recommend using a birth tub vs. an inflatable backyard tub for a couple reasons.  Firstly they are designed with materials that don’t leach chemicals when filled with hot water. Secondly they are designed so that the walls are stronger and the water is deeper for birth. ( this is important as the depth of the water can limit your birth positions. Also most inflatable birth pools have handles that you can use for birth positions which are quite helpful ( also for getting in and out of the tub). 
Also note that you will need to have a pool liner if you are renting a birth tub, but I would also recommend buying one if you are buying a tub as well ( limits the mess and keeps the pool clean for future uses). 

Here is a comparison video of different birth tub options.
Comparison chart & videolink

Consider where you are placing the birth pool.
 It is important to consider a couple things when choosing your birth pool placement.
1)  Where will you get the water ?
You want your pool to be with in a reasonable distance from a hot/cold controlled water source. (This could be any tap from a washroom but you will also need a tap adaptor for the hose)
2)  Will there be enough room to walk around the tub?
 You want your midwives to be able to reach you and baby during the birth.  A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to walk around at least most of the pool. You may also want to consider a spot for your partner to be able to sit or stand somewhere beside the tub. 
3)  Is there a place I can lay down close by?
In our case we used a futon bed or a day bed- but you can even use an inflatable mattress. You will want a place you can lay down to deliver the placenta (It sounds about as much fun as it is.) or a place that they can transfer you from the birth tub to in any unforeseen circumstance.

Tips on setting up your birth pool

Inflated ahead! 
It is a recommendation that you have your space set up 3-2 weeks before your due date. Pools take a while to inflate (and a while to fill up) so prepare yourself early so you aren’t inflating a pool during labour (not fun!)

Prep water tank.
Birth pools can take 30 - 60 mins to fill up dependant on the tub, but chances are you may run out of hot water first. A trick we learned was turning up the water heater a couple days earlier. Putting it on the hottest setting allowed us to fill our tub with more hot water.

Keeping the tub warm.
We filled half the tub when my contractions started and filled up the rest when I knew things were picking up. (This was a good way to insure you don't run out of water) We used a thermal reflective blanket to keep the water warm before I got in it.

Protecting your floors.
 I would recommend covering your floors to prevent against water damage. I recommend using foam puzzle tiles (the kind you are most likely going to buy for your baby anyways) and placing them under the tub area. We also used a waterproof tarp overtop of the tiles. It’s a good idea to have extra towels so that the floor doesn’t get too slippery while you enter and exit the pool. (You may find you need to do that a couple times)

Supplies you will need  
(Follow links for where we got ours)

liner for the Birth tub
A regular garden hose (for empting the tub)
An air pump (for filling up the tub- make sure it is a high volume pump with the right size attachment)
submergible pump (for emptying the tub)
A thermal blanket ( for keeping the water warm)

 A waterbirth kit with the following:
A drinking hose- (for filling the tub so it’s lead free)
An attachment for the tap (to attach it to the hose)
A debris net  (a sieve or small fish net works)
A floating thermometer (to monitor water temperature)
*You can also buy these separately at a hardware store

6 or more towels and 4 receiving blankets (that may get soiled)
A hand mirror (one that can sit at the bottom of the pool)
An electric kettle (to warm water up in pool) or big pots
Garbage bags for wet towels & soiled linens
waterproof cover for your bed/ mattress (could use a plastic shower curtain or drape under a fitted sheet)

Other things to consider
A flashlight / head light
Candles (if wanting a dim room)
A playlist (songs you find calming or uplifting)
A Bluetooth speaker
Pictures/ quotes/ verses you find encouraging to hang on wall
A camera if you want pictures/ video

Alternatives to a birth tub
I know I have seen a couple water birth videos on Youtube where mamas give birth in their soaker bathtubs.  Although it was an option to consider, I choose against it for a couple of reasons. The first is the bathtub could limit the amount of freedom in the water and the positions you can get into during labour. Most tubs are not created wide enough or deep enough for most birth positions. The second reason I chose otherwise is because with less water (compared to a birth tub) the after birth mess is much more messy and concentrated. The third reason is just practically speaking, with no liner , the bathtub is more work to clean. I also wanted to be able to have sitz baths in my tub post birth to help sooth and heal – so I didn’t want it to be unavailable.  If having a water birth in your bathtub is something you are considering – I would highly recommend you clean it extremely well prior to the birth.  I would also recommend a have a clean up plan because the last thing you’ll want to do postpartum is clean up a post birth mess in your washroom.  

I hope this guide gives you a better idea of what you need to prepare for a Water Birth at home.
Getting everything ready weeks ahead of your due date will help you focus on staying relaxed and calm when your labour starts and being present during the birth. Please feel free to email me your questions at

Other Resources:

 My birth pool set up for my second birth


  1. My last birth was a home birth (did I say that out loud?). It was the best experience ever. Often I get my story cut short and interrupted by people telling me how impossible and hard for them to have done that. Cheering you on mama


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