Yes! It's true! The labour pool that expectant families have been hoping and waiting for has been installed at University Maternity Hospital Limerick! While the pool has been installed, it will not be ready for use until the end of May or early June. That is the latest estimated time.
I had the pleasure of attending the UL Hospitals Group Inaugural Public Lecture Series on water immersion in labour Tuesday evening. The speakers on the night shared the history of UMHL, how the home away from home suite came into being and has been renovated to include the pool. Expectant parents, medical staff and birth workers made up the audience and I could feel the excitement in the room as we all learned more about this much-anticipated pool.
The pool is the largest size UMHL could find so it will be practical for service users. It is large enough to accommodate the labouring person and their birth support partner if they wish to join in! The pool takes approximately 35 min to fill and will be used on a first come, first served basis. When expectant mums are in labour and arrive in admissions, they must indicate to the midwives that they would like to use the pool. Including this in your birth preferences is also recommended! If the pool is currently in use, you may need to wait (if baby also doesn't arrive before!) until the mum before you has her baby. The room will be cleaned efficiently and quickly for the next mum hoping to use it.
UMHL reached out to the Coombe and has matched their current guidelines for safe use. Mums may use the labour pool if:
- they are generally healthy
- there have been no pregnancy complications
- they are expecting one baby (no multiples) who has reached term, so at least 37 weeks
- labour has started spontaneously (no induction of labour)
- baby is head down
- mum has never had a cesarean birth
These guidelines may change over time. Mums may use gas and air for pain relief while in the pool. Pethidine is another pain relief option women may avail of, however, they may need to wait a couple hours after use before they can enter the pool for safety reasons. Pethidine can make some mums drowsy, weak or nauseated and that's not ideal for being in the pool.
If hoping to use the pool also take note that you cannot be wearing nail varnish. It's bad for the pool! You also cannot give birth to baby in the water. It is for labouring only. If you are worried about the pool not being available when you arrive, please remember that there are many other things that you can do for comfort during labour- changing position, massage, and counter pressure are just a few examples! You are also more than welcome to contact me for a one-time consult where I come to your home and we go over and practice all the hands-on comfort measures that can provide relief!
I have laboured in water for two of my four births and I cannot recommend it enough! It reduced the intensity of my surges and helped me feel safe and secure during such an intimate moment. If you would like to read my latest water birth story, please go here! I believe the use of a pool during labour can be a truly magical experience. Hopefully this new pool will be the first of many at the Limerick maternity hospital!