Water birth conference comes to Bradford

We’re very proud to be sponsoring the water birth conference in November. Come along and have an inspirational day with like minded people, we’ll all be learning lots, too, because the agenda is filled with fantastic speakers!

Hosted by Dianne Garland, whose amazing training days regularly sell out, we also have sessions by Alison Brown, Emma Ashworth and free birther Jo Whistler.

There’ll be more details near the time, but get in touch for your tickets… info@aquabirths.co.uk

Activists highlight human rights to Cumberlege

The Birth Rights charity has forwarded a letter co-written by an impressive group of birth rights activists to the Maternity Review currently under way. You can read it here.

The letter sets out how human rights are essential for the forging of good parents, illustrating how a human rights focus leads to better standards of care and can prevent litigation.

The letter explains: “The capability to provide respectful care that leads to healthy physical and psychological outcomes as well as supporting strong family relationships and reducing the impact of inequalities, requires structured development of culture and care pathways in models of care that meet each woman and baby’s health, personal and social needs and preferences.

“[…] Continuity of carer is the most appropriate means of enabling personalised care that respects women’s human rights. By developing services that ensure that every woman is cared for by named midwifery and medical staff, it is possible to create a relationships of trust that prevents fragmentation in care and reduces risk for women and babies.”

Emeritus Professor Mavis Kirkham has called it “a really good and very clear letter”. It has been sent to Baroness Cumberlege as a way to begin a dialogue on how a human rights focus can be embedded in the review.

Why use fibreglass (GRP)?

Canberra birth bath
Best birth bath ever
Canberra birth bath at Furness General

GRP or acrylic? What’s the difference?

Every few years we look again at materials.  And again, we have chosen to use fibreglass (GRP) rather than acrylic or composites because, on balance, it gives a better all-round product for a hospital.

Whilst acrylic is slightly harder than GRP, the way acrylic baths are made (heat bending and forming) results in thin patches along bends and edges which we have found to be brittle weak-spots.  Acrylic tends to resist scratching in the domestic setting, however, we have found that the main type of accident or mishap in the hospital environment involves beds!  And both materials will chip then.  Fibreglass can be repaired easily and cheaply.  Acrylic, if it can be repaired at all, is neither quick nor cheap.  Additionally, we found we could add to the robustness of the GRP by having an extra deep gel-coat.

Cleanability is another commonly cited advantage to acrylic baths (in the home).  Acrylic stays cleaner looking than fibreglass if one does not clean the bath regularly.  In the hospital setting, this is irrelevant as cleaning is both thorough and regular.  For hospitals and maternity centres, acrylic baths would cost more for no benefit.  And as they are more difficult to repair and refurbish, we came down on the side of GRP.

We also want to offer midwives the ability to customise our pools or come up with their own bespoke pools.  This is what the midwives at Leeds did and the ‘Heart-shaped’ model is what they came up with.  Acrylic baths have far higher tooling costs, so the cost would be prohibitive.  Acrylic is good where there are fixed designs and mass-production.

For all these reasons, we keep choosing to use GRP for our birth baths.

Birthsoft Range

Aquabirths will be launching their Birthsoft (TM) range of furnishings for birthing rooms to help a woman keep active during birth.  These beanbags, sofas, pouffes and stools are made with foam covered in heat-sealed vinyl and are designed for the ‘birth spa’ feel in hospital maternity units.

Why you ring 0345 230 1381

Telephone operators, 1952

0345 numbers were released in 2007 to create new phone numbers that weren’t linked to a particular area, unlike the previous 01- and 02- codes.

For us, having an 0345 number means that we can staff our phones at all times, no matter where everyone is. It means that you won’t miss us, whatever happens: if the phone lines are down or one of us is off sick we can adapt and make sure your call still gets through.

However, because some phone number types have high charges, we’re aware that numbers other than 01- or 02- can worry people. So we want to reassure you that we cannot legally make any money from the 0345. It costs you the same as an 01- or 02- number. We have tried some other alternatives in the last six months but they’re not stable enough to rely on. It’s simply a practical solution that helps us make sure you can always get through.

Occasionally we come across a customer who would rather not use our 0345 number. It’s not a problem and if that’s the case for you, just ring our mobiles or email us and we can organise an alternative number for you to use.

There’s some reassurance about how 0345 numbers work on the Area Codes website: http://www.area-codes.org.uk/0345-numbers.php

“All phone numbers beginning with 03 work in the same way. Although they differ from traditional landlines by not being linked to any specific location, they cost the same to call – this is a legal requirement put in place by the UK telephone regulator, Ofcom.”

Nice to see Nice guidelines… and still a way to go!

Today, a guest blog from my Aquabirths colleague, Lucy Sangster, who’s been looking into the guidelines.

It’s been good to see that the new Nice guidelines – for care during low risk births – reflects more of the research that so many birth activists have been jumping up and down about for so long.

For example, it says “Do not clamp the cord earlier than 1 minute from the birth of the baby” unless there are serious concerns, and “If the woman requests that the cord is clamped and cut later than 5 minutes, support her in her choice”. That feels like some well needed progress.

The admission that hospital care can create harms seems obvious if you’ve been in the business for years, but the media reaction shows that there’s still a long way to go until everyone takes that on board. Positively, the guidelines have been taken seriously and presented as thoroughly researched. Interestingly, the general media reaction has been complete surprise and inevitably, the counter voices have concentrated on “risk” and “danger”.

The killer quote has to be Cathy Warwick, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives, who said on Radio Four’s Today programme, that midwife led units didn’t work in isolation, that transfer to hospitals was safe and effective if needed, and that outcomes were still better for women who transferred to hospital care than for those who started out in hospital. Considering these transfers are the sudden emergencies and potentially dangerous situations, it is striking that they still do better than women starting out in hospital! (Listen here, from 1:34:30)

In the same feature, Sarah Fishburn, the lay member of the group that worked on the guidelines said that the evidence doesn’t make clear why hospitals lead to worse outcomes, but that other settings tend to be more relaxing, comfortable and with fewer interventions.

Given that the guidelines concentrate on “good communication, support and compassion”, it is however a real shortcoming that the evidence on team midwifery and on continuity of care is not covered. Cathy Warwick said “The guidance as it stands suggests that team midwifery may not be the best model of care. However, recent research shows that team midwifery can help to ensure continuity of carer whilst also delivering other high quality outcomes,” in the Nursing times article.

So will it lead to changes? It’s refreshing to see front pages of the papers talking about the evidence instead of scare stories, but the research on general views about birth has suggested that many women still aren’t aware of this evidence and that it will take more work to change birth culture. Whether the money will follow to create midwife led units in the areas where there isn’t that choice now remains to be seen. Germaine Greer spoke about it this week and said that there’s been a lack of follow through from Government and society on women’s issues that have been ongoing for years…

With thanks to the BBC for use of the image of the Mirror front page. There’s also a lovely article from the Telegraph here.

LED lights for birth baths

LED light for Aquabirths bathWe often fit these lights to our own baths but it is possible to retro-fit them to other baths.  If your bath already has an older light that is larger than this compact one, we can supply an adapter to cover and reduce the hole.

The advantage of LEDs, aside from their much lower consumption, is that they last much longer.

Special Offer on Birthing Pools for Wales

Aquabirths in Wales ~ Aquabirths yng Nghymru

 We’ve opened an office in Wales! To celebrate, Aquabirths is offering a range of large discounts on birth pools to hospitals in Wales and hospitals serving Wales: Chester, Shrewsbury, Oswestry, and Hereford.  This may be just the opportunity your service needs to increase access to this popular birthing option for women.

You can save 20% off Canberra, Venus and Heart-shaped model birthing baths.  York baths will have free delivery.  As an example, the Canberra and Venus models are usually £4500+delivery and VAT, they would be £3600.

The large Heart-shaped birthing pool, which can be stand-alone or fit against an IPS, is nearly £1000 off.

The Dunoon, our budget compact birth bath comes with free delivery, saving you at least £250.

If a refurbished, as new, pool would suit your budget better, we can offer you two York model birth baths for the price of one.

As celebrities like Holly Willoughby raise awareness of the benefits of a water birth, you may well find you have more women wondering if it’s for them. With our offers making it easier than ever, we’d love to see more women able to get the pools they want.

Contact Ruth or David 0345 230 1381


Offer ends 1st March 2015.

Comments please – canvassing ideas for birth baths

At a recent conference attended by Ruth, a German midwife recounted how she used a much deeper container as a waterbirth pool .  With this in mind, what do you, midwives and birth practitioners, think.  It is not the bath that Ruth is stood in, rather its something to indicate depth.  We have a design but there’s no point going into production if there is no call.  Alternatively, we might start making it for the export market.  Do let us know you thoughts.

ruth new deep bath2 ruth new deep bath

A heart-shaped pool, designed with love

When Leeds General Infirmary was chosen to appear on “One Born Every Minute”, they knew they had to make their water birthing facilities really special. Two of the student midwives Debbie and Coral were asked to find out more.

Speaking to Ruth and David, it was clear that Aquabirths knew how to adapt their pools to make the best of the room available. Particularly, it was their collaborative approach that helped the Leeds’ midwives feel that they could influence the design.

David drew up plans based on their ideas. Then, because they wanted something special, Mick the pattern maker made a wooden mockup of a birthing pool so that the midwives could try it out for themselves. They stepped in, laid back and suggested ways to make it work better for labouring women. Their suggestions led to Aquabirth’s unique heart shaped birthing pool.

Our midwives test it for themselves

Lobed birthing pools are particularly difficult to design because women of different heights need different places to sit or brace their feet. Another supplier had tried and failed, but our midwives trusted Aquabirths to make it work.

The plumber, Malcolm, then helped our midwives to understand the ins and outs of the plumbing involved. That helped them choose the longer lasting but heavier quarter turn ball valve, because as they said, “we’re harder in Leeds!!”

All this and Aquabirths completed the work in record time to make sure everything was ready for filming. The room is now an impressive mix of a generous heart-shaped pool, with LED mood and star lighting: the perfect home from home for labouring ladies.

Our Unique heart shaped birthing pool at LGI