1st things 1st: Water Safety

K.D.Brainin Founder & Director
Blog: 07.02.2017

Water Safety is the single most important issue to consider when setting up a water birth facility.

We believe in keeping things simple and safe.

Our water birth pools:

  1. are made in one solid-seamless piece of the highest grade material available
  2. can be cleaned and disinfected with 10,000ppm hypochlorite (or similar)
  3. are filled from a thermostatic digital mixing valve connected directly to the hospitals water system
  4. don’t have fittings that serve as a breeding ground for bacteria and cross-infection

Other water birth pools:

Water birth pools manufactured outside the UK  are equipped with features that at first might seem like an advantage,

but in reality present serious risks.

These pools are banned from use in UK hospitals and should be avoided.

Things to look out for:

Integral Plumbing Systems

UK regulations state that water birth pools are filled from thermostatically controlled wall mounted mixer taps  (TMV) plumbed directly into the hospitals water supply.

Some water birth pools on the market have their own built-in plumbing systems.

These systems interface between the pool and the hospitals water system and present a well documented infection control risk.

Plumbing systems like these utilise surface mounted fittings, flexible & non-flexible piping, overflow drains, handheld showers, pumps, hoses, heaters and filters.

Stagnant water within the system is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.

These systems are impossible to clean, disinfect or monitor and therefore present an extremely high Infection Control Risk.

Re-circulating water systems

Re-circulating or pumped systems with jets such as whirlpools & jacuzzi present the perfect conditions for the growth of micro-organisms.

Water systems like these present the highest levels of risk as they produce aerosols.

Aerosols are generated when the water surface is broken – for example, by falling water droplets, splashing, or by bubbles breaking at the surface.

Once introduced to these systems, Legionella and Pseudomonas thrive and can become aerosolised and then inhaled.

Pumped heating systems

Heating systems for water birth pools are not necessary and present unacceptable infection control risks.

Water is pumped through a heat exchanger and then back into the pool creating the ideal environment for bacteria to breed.

These systems present one of the highest infection control risks and should not be utilised.

Overflow drains

Overflow drains harbour bacteria and can serve as a conduit for cross infection.

Regulations are very clear on this point.

Overflow drains should not be fitted to water birth pools as they constitute a constant infection control risk.

Hand held showers

Handheld showers present a significant infection control risk.

If the shower head falls in the pool it may be contaminated with bacteria that could breed and be passed on next time the shower is used.

Department of Health regulations clearly stipulate that handheld showers and bath/shower mixers are not installed for use with water birth pools as they present a Fluid Category 5 risk to the mains water supply.

Bacteria filters and disinfection systems

Some water birth pools are equipped with these devices in an attempt to mitigate the risk of infection and bacteria infestation that are inherent in built-in plumbing systems.

Bacteria filters and disinfection systems can not be relied upon and will not guarantee adequate hygiene standards.

Any metallic fitting attached to the pool presents risk

Mothers & midwives can bump into them and injure themselves.

Surface mounted metalwork such as grab rails, taps and handles are an obstacle that comes between mother and midwife.

These fittings ALL present a serious infection control risk as the space between the surface of the pool and the fitting are perfect for bacteria.

Remember – bacteria are microscopic – even though the fitting may appear flush to the surface of the pool there is space for bacteria!

Even hardware such as screws etc. that are used to fix the metalwork to the pool have been found to be rich in bacteria.


For further information on water safety see: THE WATER BIRTH SAFETY INITIATIVE 




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