Establishing the safety of water birth for mothers and babies
It is estimated that up to 60,000 (9%) babies are born into water annually in the UK.
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 POOL study aims to answer the question about the safety of water births. 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 pregnancy journey 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 at Cardiff University for analysis.
This project is funded by the NIHR Health Technology Assessment Programme.