With water births becoming everyday more and more popular, the offer of different pools and suppliers also increases. You have 2 main groups coming up: inflatable birth pools and those with rigid walls where you have to build it. The last option is normally available through renting, but you can buy them if you prefer.
You also have tubs, and those designed for births are normally found in hospitals (rare) and birth centers. Make sure your hospital is open to this option and remember that you never know if a pool will be available. You might check with them if you can take your own birth pool with you. If you decide to give birth at home, the best option is to buy or rent one, since home tubs are not ideal for labor. And, of course, check with your midwife if this option is viable for you.
There are a few things you want to look up when deciding which birth pool you prefer:
Size of the pool: you might want to consider the support of your birth partner in the pool during labour and/or delivery.
Material: during labour one of the most common positions is leaning against the rims of the pool, and remember you will be kneeling most of the time so if it is not an inflatable pool make sure you have a pillow to lean over and also put some extra padding on the floor when setting up.
Handles and seat: they can be very helpful to make you feel more comfortable and help you move around.
Water temperature: the inflatable vinyl ones easily retain heat, and the other ones normally are provided with a water heater.
Liners/hygiene/toxicity: when renting a pool you can check if they have disposable or reusable liners. In the case of reusable ones make sure you check the toxicity of the products used to clean. When using a disposable liner or an inflatable birth poolyou can air them for a couple of days to help to release the toxicity of the vinyl;
Colors and looks: the designs of the pools can vary, especially from inflatable to rigid ones. You might feel comfortable in a very spacious and hexagonal pool where you move freely or you might prefer the "secure" feeling of a cocoon like inflatable pool. The colour can also give some comfort, normally deep colours add more privacy to the moment but you can still feel fine on a pale colour lining.
Remember to always check with your midwife the options and risks of water birth. Not every woman is suitable to labor in water (small percentage) and you shouldn't feel guilty if that's your case. The most important is to plan the best birth possible but still be open to the unexpected. When everything goes smoothly, water birth is a wonderful experience for mum and baby.