Your Guide to an Inexpensive but Wonderful Water Birth
You Can Have a Great Birth Without Overspending
Well, first thing is first: you need a birthing pool. You don't have to buy or rent an expensive one made specifically for birthing, though. Inflatable kiddie pools do just fine. You want to make sure that it has sturdy sides that will support your weight as you lean against them. It needs to be wide enough and deep enough for you to fit in comfortably, but it also needs to fit in your home. Remember that the interior of the pools will be smaller than the exterior measurements. An inflated floor will make it more comfortable.
The most popular models are the La Bassine, Electra, Aquarium, and Ocean Reef Birth Pools. These are inflatable kiddie pools that are very comfortable for birthing. All have inflated floors and sturdy sides. The eco-friendly La Bassine is the most expensive, for it has interior handles and a carrying case. The oval La Bassine and round Electra are both blue, while the round Aquarium and octagonal Ocean Reef are clear & feature ocean animals. The large Ocean Reef pool holds 191 gallons of water and measures 76" x 71" x 25". La Bassine comes in second for size, measuring 65" x 53" x 25". Like the 5' x 22" Electra, it holds 100 gallons of water. The Aquarium is 5' x 23" and holds 106 gallons. It is the cheapest pool.
You can order one of these online, and you may be able to find a good birthing pool in a store during the summer. Acting on a tip from another mother, I found the Aquarium birth pool at King Sooper's for only $15! It was also available at Kroger's for this price. Another woman recently found the Ocean Reef birth pool for $25 in Toys 'R Us. Shop around for the best price. You'll be surprised at the deals you can find. Online water birth suppliers of these pools include: Your Water Birth, Birth with Sol, and Birth with Love. The Ocean Reef pool is selling for $19.95 at Quality Inflatables right now.
Now that you have picked out your birth pool, you're not quite done. There are a few other things you will need. These include an air pump, water pump, water heater, floor-protecting tarp, hose, and maybe a sink adaptor. These will make set up and clean up a lot easier. They are all optional, if you can get around needing them. However, none of them are expensive, and it is worth it to have them.
Inflating your pool with a manual air pump would take quite a while. It would be both irritating and exhausting. And of course, you can forget using your breath to accomplish this feat! An electric air pump is best. There are a lot of places on the internet that sell them, but usually they are overpriced. Your best bet is to go to Wal-Mart or a similar discount store. They are sold in the camping section with the air mattresses. These both inflate and deflate and cost only $20! In the summer these are kept by the pools.
Electric water pumps can run you quite a bit no matter where you buy them. They are absolutely unnecessary! Instead, break out the fish tank equipment. Pet stores sell valves that hook to your sink and hose and use reverse water pressure to siphon water. Petsmart sells a 50' drinking water quality hose and valve kit for about $30. Python makes an identical green valve, the Pump & Fill, that sells for only $8 at Petsmart. These are wonderful, inexpensive alternatives to electric water pumps. They are a lot more convenient than trying to siphon the water out of your birth pool by sucking on the end of a hose with your mouth (yuck)!
To fill the pool, you will need a hose and maybe a sink adaptor for it. Hoses are available in the garden section of any store (duh, right?). I recently got a bright yellow one, 50' long, from Wal-Mart for only $10. The sink adaptor sells for about $5 online, but you'll have to pay shipping and handling. I recommend just heading to Lowe's or Ace Hardware for one. If you bought the fishtank hose & valve kit, you won't need a garden hose. You may not need the sink adaptor to use the valves either.
Whether you are setting up the pool on carpet or hardwood floors, you want to protect your flooring from water damage. All you need for this is a plastic tarp. I don't know where to buy a traditional blue tarp. I did, however, find a thick plastic liner at Lowe's for about $2. They are sold near the paint and used to protect furniture while painting. You can also use a vinyl shower curtain liner, available at Wal-Mart for $2 as well.
To set up, lay your cheap liner down on the floor where the pool will be. Inflate the birth pool with your $20 electric pump. (This is best done a few weeks before your due date to save time during labor.) You may have to unscrew a metal piece from the bottom of your faucet before screwing on the Pump & Fill valve. I am not certain if you will need a sink adaptor for it, but if you do, screw that on first. Now connect your hose to the sink adaptor or to the Pump & Fill if you wisely decided to buy one. Fill your pool about halfway with cold water, then adjust the temperature to your liking.
Clean up is easy. There is a valve on the bottom of the Pump & Fill that reverses the water pressure. First, turn on cool water and have it run for a few minutes. Now turn the valve, but leave the water on. The water will be sucked out of your pool without you having to do anything further. All you have to do then is deflate it, roll it up with the tarp, and put it away. You should clean it at some point!
If you can get ahold of a water heater, like for a water beat, that's great. It's not necessary though, especially if you've bought the Pump & Fill or a similar valve. If your water cools down while you labor, it's not difficult to make it warm again with these supplies. Use the Pump & Fill valve to siphon out some water. Now, turn on the hot water, and give the valve a turn. You can keep your water at a comfortable temperature without much effort at all.
I spent $15 on my pool, $10 on my hose, $20 on the electric air pump, $5 on the sink adaptor, $8 on the Pump & Fill valve, and $2 on the floor liner. That's a total of $60 plus tax and the cost of water. You may have to spend a little more, depending on where you buy your supplies. Online, a birth pool will probably run you $30 after shipping and handling. Sometimes it's not possible to find a hose for only $10. I really doubt you will have to spend more than $100 altogether on your supplies. If even $60-$100 is a lot for you, buy one thing at a time each month until the baby is born!
As you can see, it's really not that expensive to have a wonderful homebirth. You don't need to spend hundreds or thousands on a birth pool. Your experience will be as wonderful in the Aquarium birth pool as it would in a hot tub. When I first thought of using a kiddie pool, it seemed like it would be such a hassle to fill it, empty it, and keep the water warm. With the Pump & Fill valve, though, all that will be a breeze! Good luck, reader, and have a wonderful water birth!
Memorial Day Voices
Which Memorial Day family activity is your favorite?
- A birth pool should cost you less than $40.
- Electric air pumps are only $20.
- Who needs an expensive water pump? Buy a Pump & Fill for $8!