Background: There is little published research that has examined practitioners’ views and experiences of pain relieving measures commonly used during labour and birth, particularly for non-pharmacological measures such as water immersion. Furthermore, there is minimal published research examining the process of policy and guideline development, that is, the translation of published research to usable practice guidance. Aims: The aims of phase three of a larger study were to explore midwives knowledge, experiences and support for the option of water immersion for labour and birth in practice and their involvement, if any, in development of policy and guidelines pertaining to the option. Methods: Phase three of a three phased mixed methods study included a web based survey of 234 Australian midwives who had facilitated and/or been involved in the development of policies and/or guidelines relating to the practice of water immersion. Findings: Midwives who participated in this study were supportive of both water immersion for labour and birth reiterating documented benefits of reduced pain, maternal relaxation and a positive birth experience. The most significant concerns were maternal collapse, the difficulty of estimating blood loss and postpartum haemorrhage whilst barriers included lack of accredited staff, lifting equipment and negative attitudes. Midwives indicated that policy/guideline documents limited their ability to facilitate water immersion and did not always to support women's informed choice. Conclusion: Midwives who participated in this study supported the practice of water immersion reiterating the benefits documented in the literature and minimal risk to the woman and baby. Ethical considerations: The Human Research Ethics Committee of the University of South Australia approved the research.
- Practice guideline
- Water immersion