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POOL

The POOL study is evaluating the safety of water births.

The aim of the POOL study is to answer the question about the safety of water births. It is estimated that up to 60,000 (9 in every 100) babies are born into water annually in the UK.

Women use a birth pool during labour for pain relief and some women choose to remain in the pool for the birth of their baby, to date there have not been studies large enough to show whether or not waterbirth causes an increase in poor outcomes for mothers or their babies.

Research approach

The study will collect data on the births of all women in around 30 maternity units during 2015-2020. It will determine how many women are using birth pools, how many women give birth in water and whether mothers or their babies come to any extra harm as a result of water birth.

To do this without disturbing women in labour or just after birth the study will use information collected as part of each woman’s and linked baby maternity record stored at hospitals in computerised systems. To keep women’s information confidential, the data stored in existing maternity information systems will have identifying information, such as names, addresses and NHS numbers removed before the information is sent to the research team in Cardiff for analysis.

Stakeholders

Professionals and parents have strong opinions on water birth. Some are great advocates, who promote the potential benefits of water birth to women, whilst others remain concerned that women may be taking additional unnecessary risks by giving birth in water.

The diversity of opinions towards water birth makes it particularly important that the study team have representatives from all interested groups. The professionals on the study team include midwives, an obstetrician and a neonatologist as well as the experts needed to deliver this large complex study. The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) is the largest parenting organisation in the UK and have joined the study team as have the Royal College of Midwives.

Project details

For a detailed project description please read The POOL Study. Establishing the safety of waterbirth for mothers and babies: A cohort study with nested qualitative component.

Information

Key facts

Start date 1 Apr 2018
End date 1 Aug 2021
Status
  • Set up

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