RR1132 - Manual handling risks to midwives associated with birthing pools literature review and incident analysis

This report describes research into the manual handling related risks to midwives associated with providing care to women choosing to use a birthing pool for labour and/or birth at home and in hospital.

The research comprised: a review of incidents reported to the Health and Safety Executive, a literature review and familiarisation visits to include discussions with midwives to identify current practices and procedures.

The manual handling risks are likely to result from the position of the mother in the pool, as well as from the position of the midwife whilst undertaking tasks at the birthing pool, and when actively supporting a mother's entry/exit into the pool or the mother using the midwife as a support whilst entering/exiting the pool. The risk of manual handling injury is exacerbated in the home birth setting, as, despite planning, there is typically less control over environmental factors.

The research suggests a need for the development of guidelines for good practice with regard to birthing pool, room and equipment design for both hospital and home birth settings. This is fundamental to reducing the manual handling risks to midwives and to enable the midwife to focus on the safety of the mother and baby.

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Updated 2021-05-17