Birth Pool Hire FAQs

Before you request to book a pool hire through us, have a read through our FAQs. Here’s everything you need to know about hiring a birth pool from Greater Manchester Doulas CIC:

IMPORTANT NOTICE: We have recently made some changes to our pool hire service so as of 05/07/22 you will not be able to book a pool with us if you are over 30 weeks pregnant. You can read about why we made this decision here. We have also implemented a payment deadline of 34 weeks for your deposit and accessories payment. We have also ask all women to attend a briefing session before collection to answer all of your questions about the hiring process and/or pool practicalities.

1. How do I hire a pool from you and what is the process?

As of 05/07/22:

  • Read through these FAQs then complete our booking form before you are 30 weeks (this is our booking cut-off)
  • Once we have received your request we will check our availability and get back to you as soon as possible. We will ordinarily aim to respond to all requests within five working days (please refer to the notice at the top of this page)
  • If a pool is available around your guess date we will let you know with a confirmation email. Within this email you will find the dates of your loan period, payment information, a link to book onto a 30-minute group briefing session and a link to book your free Holding Space session either online or in person
  • The briefing session is mandatory but is only 30 minutes and will give you all of the important details about the hiring process and the pool itself, with time to ask questions. If you do not attend a briefing session you will not be able to continue with the hire
  • Your deposit payment and payment for any accessories must be made by 34 weeks
  • Once you have attended the briefing session you will receive a collection email that will contain the name of your pool, collection address and a locker code
  • You will collect your pool (and accessories) from 37 weeks
  • You will return your pool to the same address by (what would have been) 43 weeks
  • Your deposit will be returned to you providing the pool comes back in good, clean condition

If you booked a pool with us before 05/07/22 nothing will change except you will be returning your pool to Bury. You are also welcome to pay your deposit online rather than bank transfer, and if you would like to book onto a briefing session you are welcome to.

2. How many pools do you have?

Currently we have 15 birth pools: 

  • 2 Birth Pool In A Box Mini
  • 4 Birth Pool In A Box Regular
  • 4 La Bassine Standard
  • 4 La Bassine Maxi
  • 1 Oasis Elite

The number of pools available varies as they don’t last forever, and we are reliant on donations to repair and replace them. Each donation grows the scheme to reach more women. We appreciate every single donation, from pools to patching kits.

3. When should I book my pool?

As soon as possible! Our cut-off for booking is 30 weeks (in effect as of 05/07/22).

The reason we have introduced a booking cut-off is because many women wait until nearly full term (for various reasons, but being under the impression “permission” is necessary from medical professionals is a big one) and then we have none left to loan. We find that those are the pools that tend to come back unused because that “permission” was taken away again at the end of pregnancy.

Don’t wait to be allowed – it’s always you who does the allowing.

4. Which size should I get?

Here is a comparison of pool sizes:

Birth Pools comparison chart

For women over 5’8″ the BPIAB Mini and Standard La Bassine pools may feel too small to assume positions such as leaning on the sides facing out with legs extended out behind. On the other hand, if you have limited space you may be better off with the smaller options, even if you are over 5’8″. The buoyancy of water will be in effect no matter your height or which pool you choose. 

It’s worth considering your boiler capacity when choosing which size is best for you. If your boiler isn’t great then a smaller pool might be best.

5. Do I really need to use a liner?

Yes – even for a wet run. There are a number of reasons we ask that everyone uses a liner, including hygiene, ease of use and longevity of the pools. As the pools are loaned out several times, liners extend the life of the pool. The liners act as an extra layer of waterproof protection should the pool leak, and also protect the seals of the pool which are the weakest part. The liner also makes cleaning up after the birth a much easier task!

When you have used your liner please dispose of it yourself, along with your hose – we cannot take these back from you unless they are still in their packaging and unused.

Many of our pools are missing a valve in the floor due to them being lost/broken. This isn’t a problem for hiring them as inflating the floor isn’t necessary (when there is water in it you won’t feel the hardness of the floor), but if water is put in the pool without a liner then it will get into the floor – if this happens it is impossible to get it all out again and this pool would no longer be useable.

Please return the pool as you would expect to find it: clean, dry and in good working order. We rely on people treating the scheme with respect. Please pay special attention to the ‘exit point’ after you’ve birthed, and make sure the outer rings are clean there.

Recently we threw away multiple pools because they were returned with mould growing on the inside. This cannot happen if a liner is used, and the pool is cleaned and dried properly. For this reason we insist on liners being used. If the cost is prohibitive please let us know.

6. What if I no longer need the pool?

We understand that circumstances change, we just ask that you let us know as soon as possible so that your pool can be made available to someone else. If you have been told you are “not allowed” to use a pool or have a home birth, or you feel unsupported in your decisions and you’re not happy, please talk to us. Women are told they are “not allowed” a homebirth for many reasons but where you give birth is always your choice, so remember that your options are still open to you.

7. How long can I use the pool for?

Our loan period is for six weeks, from 37 weeks of pregnancy to (what would be) 43 weeks. This hopefully allows you enough time to feel prepared beforehand, and not feel too pressured to get it back to us! 

If you would like to return your pool before your hire period is up that’s fine, and gives us more time to prepare it for the next birth.

We sometimes only have a gap of about a day between bookings to clean and check a pool before it goes back out again. This means it’s really important you remember when it’s due to be returned and get it back to us in time. There is a late fee for overdue returns (more details in section 13).

8. How much does it cost and when do I pay?

We ask for a deposit of £80 to go towards covering any damages/later returns.

You can buy the following accessories from us:

Universal liner = £30

10m hose = £12

You can make your payment here.

Your deposit payment and payment for any accessories must be made by 34 weeks (3 weeks prior to collection). If payment is not received by this point we may have to cancel your booking. If you would struggle to make payment by this date please do contact us.

A standard grade pool is only designed for a single use, but it can generally be used around five times before needing to be replaced. This works out at around £25 per birth, so a donation of this amount covers this cost.

Our hire scheme is free to use. However, we do ask for a suggested donation for those able to contribute:

Financial situation

Suggested donation

No income (including those who do not have access to their household income)


Receiving means tested benefits e.g. Universal Credit, Income Support


Receiving tax credits


Everyone else

£50 +

The aim of this service is to make waterbirth an option for all local women, regardless of their situation. If your circumstances make it difficult to make a donation, we understand.

For those who can contribute, it goes directly to supporting more families and makes the scheme accessible to all. Every donation is appreciated, be it monetary, or unused accessories to be used by others. Donations can be made here anytime.

9. How do I get the pool?

Once you have attended a group briefing session we will send out the collection information. Collections are from Bury. We don’t mind where you live in order to use the hire scheme, but we ask that you consider how you will collect your pool, and particularly how and when you will be able to drop it off. Delays in returning a pool have a knock on effect on us and other families, and incurs late charges by the day. You can find details on the charges in section 13.

10. Do I need to buy anything else?

You will need a pool liner, hose, and a tap connector. Universal liners (£30) and 10m non-toxic, food grade hoses (£12) can be purchased from us too.

We do not sell tap connectors – you will need to source this yourself.

Each pool is loaned with an air pump for blowing up the pool and a water pump (non-sterile) for emptying after you have given birth.

11. Is there anything I need to do before returning the pool?

Please ensure it is clean and dry, with both pumps and their valve adapters. 

The running of this scheme relies on pools being cared for and returned in a good condition. We understand that on occasion accidents happen, please just be honest with us! 

It’s really easy to care for a pool, inside and out, but please ask if you need advice.

12. Do you offer any support around home or water birth?

Absolutely! Included in each hire is a funded Holding Space session, to help you prepare emotionally and practically for your birth. Don’t leave it until full term to book in with us – if you have your session earlier on but find you’d like support later on we’ll do what we can. Data we have collected since we started the scheme shows that women who have at least one session with us are more likely to birth at home.

If you have a confirmed booking or are on our waiting list you can book your free session here either online or in-person.

Please see our offerings page for more information on our other services.

13. When will my deposit be returned?

Once the pool has been returned to us, we will check it over to make sure it is clean and check for any damage. We aim to return your deposit to you, minus any deductions within two weeks.

We will take the following fee from your deposit if the pool is:

  • returned late – £5 per day
  • wet or dirty – £40
  • damaged or returned without pumps – £80 (full deposit)

Please allow the full two weeks following the return of your pool before contacting us about your deposit refund.

When filling out our booking form you will be asked to tick a box to say you have read and understood the FAQs. By ticking this box you are agreeing to the terms that we have set out above.

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