Water birth at Northern Beaches Hospital Sydney

Water birth can be a lovely way to deliver your baby. Water births are available at Northern Beaches Hospital. If you’re interested in this option, talk to your obstetrician or midwife about whether it could be suitable for you.

You’re also welcome to visit our maternity unit, including our water birth facilities.

If you have any questions or would like to book a tour, call us on (02) 9105 6015 or email nbh.privatematernity@healthscope.com.au.

The benefits of water birth

Many women find that warm water immersion during labour and birth is comfortable, calming and soothing. Remaining active in labour also promotes blood flow to your placenta and your baby. Water birth benefits include:

  • assistance with pain relief
  • less chance of needing an epidural
  • support for the labour and birthing process
  • increased sense of relaxation, privacy and intimacy
  • stronger feelings of control in labour
  • increased birth satisfaction

“The sheer relief I felt when I got into the birth pool. The water provided almost a numbing effect like the pain just washed away.” Jodie

Is a water birth right for me?

Labour and birth are very personal and a water birth is just one option at Northern Beaches Hospital. Immersion in water during labour and birth may be a good choice if you:

  • would like to deliver your baby with minimum intervention if possible
  • are healthy and have a low-risk pregnancy
  • have reached 37 weeks of gestation
  • are pregnant with just one baby who is in a head-down position
  • have a labour partner who can stay with you at all times
  • can get in and out of the bath with minimal assistance and weigh less than 100kg
  • understand you may need to leave the bath if there are any concerns about your or your baby’s wellbeing.

During your pregnancy, it’s important to talk to your obstetrician or midwife about your plans to have a water birth. They can explain situations that may make a water birth unsuitable and why we might ask you to leave the bath.

The water birth process

Water births involve delivering your baby while you sit in a deep tub or bath. The bath is filled with warm tap water and you get into it when you feel ready. Some women like to get into the bath when labour starts. Others prefer to wait until closer to delivery. It’s important to drink plenty of water while you’re in the bath to avoid dehydration.

If your labour progresses normally and you stay in the bath for delivery, your baby will be born submerged in the water. Your baby is then brought to the water surface. This is safe because your baby will not take a breath until their head is out of the water.

Water birth in hospital

Choosing a water birth in a maternity hospital gives you the opportunity to experience the benefits of water immersion during labour and delivery – along with access to advanced medical care if needed.

The facilities at Northern Beaches Hospital offer a comfortable environment for water births. Our birthing suite includes large, luxurious birthing baths.

Your obstetrician or midwife, along with our highly skilled labour and delivery midwives, will be alongside you to provide support.

Why choose Northern Beaches Hospital for your water birth?

As a leading Sydney facility, we’re dedicated to providing the highest standards of maternity care in a calm, beautiful environment.

Our immaculate rooms are designed to optimise your safety and comfort, with amenities for your partner to stay. You’ll enjoy nutritious, delicious meals designed by our executive chef and crafted using fresh, seasonal ingredients.

Your baby will be well looked after too, with a Special Care Nursery adjacent to the maternity suite should they need expert care. For private mums, our Well Baby Nursery is staffed nightly by experienced midwives. They can take care of your baby while you catch up on your rest.

Find out more about the private maternity facilities at Northern Beaches Hospital.

You’re welcome to call us on (02) 9105 6015 or email nbh.privatematernity@healthscope.com.au if you have any questions or would like to book a tour.


Frequently asked questions

Current evidence suggests that a water immersion birth does not put you or your baby at extra risk. Potential risks of immersion in water in labour and birth include:

  • infection
  • your baby swallowing water
  • getting too hot

At Northern Beaches Hospital, we will monitor you and your baby closely to minimise potential risks.

Remember, the journey of pregnancy and birth can be unpredictable. Where any risks develop during your pregnancy or labour, your obstetrician or midwife will talk to you about whether a water birth is still appropriate.

Warm water immersion during labour and birth is considered safe if you and your baby are healthy and you’ve had a low-risk pregnancy. There is no evidence of an increase in infection rates for mothers or babies after water birth. Nor is there a difference in Apgar scores at birth or special care nursey admission rates for babies born in water compared to babies not born in water.

If you have an uncomplicated labour and birth with support from qualified professionals, there is no risk of your baby inhaling the water. Babies are born with protective mechanisms that stop them from breathing while they are underwater.

The trigger to start breathing occurs when your baby’s face contacts the air. In a water birth, this happens when your baby is brought to the surface of the water.

Many studies show people who labour and give birth immersed in water report lower pain levels than those who do not. However, it’s important to remember each person experiences pain differently. Labour and birth are also unique experiences. What works for one person may not work for someone else. Your health professionals can help you decide what’s best for you and your baby.

No. To maintain safety and hygiene the bath is filled with plain tap water and no oils, gels or soaps should be added.

You cannot have injections for pain relief or an epidural while you’re in the water, but you can use Entonox (happy gas).

You may change your mind and leave the water at any time.

You will need to leave the bath if your waters are not clear when they break or if there are any concerns about your baby’s heart rate.

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