Tips for setting up a birth pool

Slipping into a birth pool filled with warm water in between contractions that are getting longer, stronger and closer together is usually followed by a deep sigh of relief. “Aaahhh…that feels good!”

IMG_1383Warm water immersion is well known to be helpful in alleviating pain and stress during labour and birth. But you know what has been shown to increase stress during this time? Realizing that you don’t quite know how to get that birth pool ready quickly and effectively. Seriously, if it is your job to set up the pool be sure you know what you are doing before labour day. You have one job. Be prepared!

Lucky for you, we are here to help. 

You will need the following items:

  1. A birth pool. We recommend Passages Pools because they offer a nice balance of size and cost and are a single use only tub which means there is no risk of other people’s birth germs ending up in your birth pool. 🤢
  2. A brand new hose for filling the tub. You do not want to use a hose that has been previously used as there could have been stagnant water sitting in the hose at one time. This is a risk for Legionnaires Disease. Gross. 
  3. An air pump for pumping up the pool. You don’t want to try to blow one of these suckers up with your lungs. Trust me. I’ve watched people try. It isn’t pretty. Make sure you have the correct adapter to fit the air valves on the pool. 
  4. A hose* and sump pump to empty the pool. This is technically optional. You could use a bucket and empty it bucket by bucket. But its messy. And time consuming. And you should be focussed on that new baby when the birth is over not slogging water. 
  5. A bucket. You might bucket out a bit of water here and there if you need to add more hot water along the way.
  6. A stack of towels. Lots of towels. The birthing person might get in and out a few times and will need a dry towel each time. The midwife will be listening to the baby and will need a towel. There will be odd drips here and there. Lots of towels will be appreciated by everyone. 

Helpful hints:

  1. Do a “dry run” long before you think you need to. Make sure you can set this up easily and efficiently and that everything is well organized. Do NOT actually put water in the pool during your dry run. It really needs to be dry. Again, any water sitting around the seams could breed nasty bacteria that you do not want your loved ones to be exposed to. 
  2. Be sure that you have the right attachments to fit your hose onto your plumbing fixtures. 
  3. When in early labour, turn your hot water tank to its hottest setting so you are getting as much heat from each drop of water as possible. 
  4. Blow up the floor of the pool first. Then each of the rings from the bottom up. Don’t over fill but make sure it is firm. When the birthing person is on their knees leaning on the edge of the pool with their elbows the pool needs to be firm enough that the side of the pool doesn’t collapse letting litres of water pour out. 
  5. Put towels around the outside edges of the pool so that any water dripping down the sides of the pool are dealt with. Nothing more uncomfortable than wet socks. 
  6. Set up the pool in a space that allows access from at least three sides. Be sure to put it in the right spot before you start filling it with water. I’m sure you are very strong. But I promise you don’t want to be trying to move a full birth pool. 

Registered midwife, Becca Raper, reviews many of these tips and provides additional helpful information in this video. Watch it. Refer back to this post during your dry run. Remember, you’ve got one job! 😉

*Don’t plan to use your clean hose to empty the tub. If you need to take some water out at some point and add some more warm water you really need to keep those hoses separate. 




Genia Stephen is a registered midwife who wishes she and her partner had read this blog post before their attempt at setting up a birth pool when having their first baby 15 years ago.  You can read about Genia’s journey to midwifery here