Understanding the barriers and facilitators related to birthing pool use from organisational and multi-professional perspectives: a mixed-methods systematic review

Megan Cooper, Anna-Marie Madeley, Ethel Burns, Claire Feeley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Abstract

Aims: To identify and synthesize the evidence regarding the facilitators and barriers relating to birthing pool use from organizational and multi-professional perspectives.

Design: A systematic integrated mixed methods review was conducted.
Data sources: MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsychINFO, EMCARE, PROQUEST and Web of Science databases were searched in April 2021, March 2022 and April 2024. We cross-referenced with Google Scholar and undertook reference list searches.

Review Methods: Data were extracted from studies meeting the inclusion criteria. Barriers and facilitators to birthing pool use were mapped and integrated into descriptive statements further synthesized to develop overarching themes.

Results: 37 articles (29 studies) were included - quantitative (12), qualitative (8), mixed methods (7), and audits (2), from 12 countries. These included the views of 9,082 multi-professionals (midwives, nurses, obstetricians, neonatologists, students, physicians, maternity support workers, doulas and childbirth educators). Additionally, 285 institutional policies or guidelines were included over 9 papers and 1 economic evaluation. Five themes were generated: The paradox of prescriptiveness, The experienced but elusive practitioner, Advocacy and tensions, Trust or Trepidation and It’s your choice, but only if it is a choice. These revealed when personal, contextual, and infrastructural factors were aligned and directed towards the support of birth pool use, birthing pool use was a genuine option. Conversely, the more barriers that women and midwives experienced, the less likely it was a viable option, reducing choice and access to safe analgesia.

Conclusion: The findings demonstrated a paradoxical reality of water immersion with each of the five themes detailing how the “swing” within these factors directly affected whether birthing pool use was facilitated or inhibited.
Original languageEnglish
Article number147
Number of pages23
JournalReproductive Health
Volume20
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

Keywords

  • Analgesia
  • Anesthesiology
  • Birth pool
  • Childbirth
  • Guidelines
  • Maternity care
  • Midwifery
  • Neonatology
  • Obstetrics
  • Physiological birth
  • Policies
  • Water birth
  • Water immersion

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