Installed at Lancaster Royal Infirmary in December 2012 , then another at the Westmoreland (Kendal) in March 2014 and now there is one at Furness General. All these are within the Morecambe Bay Trust where we have been working with the same Estates Manager throughout. If there is an Estate Manager who wants to check how to have things ready for the installation of a birthing pool, contact Paul – he has it down to a T!
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.
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.
We 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.
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.
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.
All our baths come with a guarantee so that if something does go wrong and it’s our fault, we come and repair or even replace the bath.
We set up this business to make sure midwives and mums had the option of waterbirth at a sensible price and so we always look to make sure we’re as helpful as possible to midwives. In any business, from time to time, something goes wrong and it is how it is dealt with that tells you about that business. If something goes wrong with a bath and it’s our fault, we will get it sorted and as quickly as we can. We want women to have a good birth. That’s it.
A hospital sent us photographs of damage to a bath. They may not have been sure who’d manufactured, so they sent it to us and our UK competitor. Our response was to say, ‘that photo looks like our fault’ and have booked to get down there and repair. Our competitor sent it round to hospitals to try and cause bad feeling. You can compare the contrasting ethics.
The hospital he’d emailed certainly did. It backfired. This was their affirming response to us –
“I’m reassured to the fact we’ve opted for the correct product and the ideal manufacturer/service provider and partner.
I too dislike sabre rattling by competitors.”
Ruth and David and all at Aquabirths are there for midwives. End of.
Things you need to consider when installing a birthing pool – a Midwife’s guide.
As the demand for active birth – and water births in particular – increases, more and more trusts and birthing units are installing birthing pools. Here, David Weston, owner of Aquabirths in West Yorkshire shares his expertise and experience and gives guidance on “where to start”.
As with many things in midwifery, you have to start with the plumbing. Is there already a bath in the room where you plan to put your pool? Or at least a sink? If the plumbing is in place to begin with, it makes life a lot easier and the job a lot cheaper. One critical thing is the height of the existing waste water pipe.
Ideally, the waste water will leave the room either at, or very close to, floor level so that pipe-work from plughole to waste drain is at a steep enough gradient to enable the water to empty quickly. A valve and a trap need to be fitted in under the bath and it’s a case of getting them in before you run out of height. If the waste pipe is a few inches up the wall, then the bath will probably need to be raised, which can add to the overall cost of the build.
Space. When putting a pool into a birthing room, you might also want to consider what else you want in the room. Other room uses may impinge on the bath – for example, plug sockets for CD-players need to be at least 3m from the bath. It’s always a good idea to make contact with an experienced Birth Pool specialist very early in the process. Any company worth their salt will be willing to chat through your options with you, or be prepared to visit you, even before you have engaged an architect or project manager.
I have seen rooms with birthing pools left unused or – worse still – used as storage rooms! Allowing time to properly consider how best to equip the room with other equipment can avoid this. If you want a bed in the room with the birth pool, will you want to be able to move the bed in and out also? Will there be enough room to do so. You don’t want to find yourself in a position of not being able to offer the birth pool to women who want it because someone rammed it with a bed and the estates office have told you it can’t be used.
Colours and features. Gone are the days of “it comes in white…or white” A birthing bath can be any colour and any shape you want and many of the baths we have installed have been adapted to suit the needs of individual midwifery teams. If you have a “dream” birthing pool in mind, don’t be afraid to ask. Modern moulding techniques mean that bespoke baths are much more affordable than they were ten years ago.
When it comes to taps, choice can be a little more limited because of the various regulations that apply to hospitals. Any good birth pool company will know their way round these regulations and should still be able to offer you a number of alternatives. It is probable that this is something that can be sorted by the hospital’s Estates Department. You can also request additional features and modifications such as LED lights inside the bath, a choice on the position of the waste outlet and even the addition of an anti-bacterial gel coating.
Make it a Team Effort Involve the Estates Department as early as is possible / helpful to you. They may be able to help with much of the above and undertake some of the works to make your budget go as far as possible. We do offer an installation service for our pools so you can be sure it is fitted correctly. However, budgets are often stretched and it should be possible for the hospital’s own Estates Department to fit the bath. Make sure your pool comes with instructions and telephone support from the birth pool provider.
If you’re not sure, ask. A birth pool may be one of your biggest investments of the year, so don’t be afraid to ask questions throughout the process. Once the bath is in, it’s sometimes too late to make changes so keep the channels of communication open throughout the design, build and installation process. A good birth pool company will have time to talk through your options and be willing to answer any questions you have. It’s a good idea to have clarification on points you are unsure of in writing to avoid any confusion or surprises later down the line. If you discuss something with your birth pool provider on the phone, drop them a quick email afterwards to confirm what you agreed. Don’t assume that because you know exactly what you want, they do too – they’ll only know if you tell them.
And finally – once your pool is installed, make a bit of noise about it. Be sure to let the local press know about your fabulous new facilities (your birth pool company may be able to help you with this) and invite local stakeholders, community midwives, doulas, GPs, practice nurses and mums to be to come and take a tour of your new birthing room. You wouldn’t buy a new pair of shoes and never wear them, likewise don’t commission a pool and forget to show it off – that way it will get used more frequently, you will get your money’s worth and you will see an increase in the number of mums enjoying your new birthing pool.”
The Dunoon model compact birth bath installed at Royal University Hospital, Bath as part of their refurbishments, which were envisioned and overseen by SR Architects. The Dunoon model is designed to keep all the room of a birth bath for the mum-to-be but to be efficient in its use of space. If you have small birth room or space is tight, then the Dunoon birthing pool is ideal. And with a price tag well under £3000, it is also suitable for hospitals that need to fit out several birthpool rooms. As with all Aquabirths baths, this bath can be customised and is flexible in its design – the hatch can go either side, it can be fitted side-on or end on. And, as with all our baths, it is a one-piece bath with a single-surface for strength and superior hygiene control.
I doubt if there is a maternity unit in the UK that isn’t strapped for funds. Savings always need to be found! But please don’t scrimp on the installation of the birthing bath – this is a job for a qualified plumber and not a general fitter. This is not a way of pushing our installation service but simply because we’ve just had to tidy up a mess left by a contractor who didn’t install the bath properly.
It is very important that the bath you have bought, paid to be delivered and installed is put in properly to avoid extra costs and problems down the line. Make sure Estates or someone ensures the contractor follows the instructions. If you have queries, ring us. You could have a site visit before hand so that we can discuss installation; you can also book for our plumber to be present at installation to offer guidance, at the very least, you could arrange for him to be present to give phone support. The cost of a site visit (which is only for mileage and time) is discounted from the purchase price (up to a maximum of £200) in any case.
We understand that hospitals will want to make saving where they can but, as we know with a local hospital, the installer put the bath in wrongly and with no consideration of the midwives who will have to use it. This has caused extra expense, hassle and time-wastage trying to sort it. Othertimes, the incorrect trap has been used so that Infection Control are unhappy.