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Table 4 Key differences between obstetric and midwifery units

From: Factors influencing water immersion during labour: qualitative case studies of six maternity units in the United Kingdom

Categories and themes Obstetric units Midwifery units
Physical environment
 Pool availability Pool in 7–17% of birth rooms Pool in 60–100% of birth rooms
 Pool room environment Some pool rooms disliked by midwives Described by women/midwives as relaxing/encouraging of pool use
Midwives’ intrapersonal factors
 Midwives’ attitudes Some not keen on pool use, often due to lack of confidence All very positive about pool use
 Midwives’ confidence Some not confident - frightened of pool use All confident in supporting pool use
Autonomy and support of midwives
 Senior staff support Some senior staff unsupportive of pool use Midwives feel very supported by seniors to support pool use
 Midwives’ autonomy Some autonomy to offer the pool to ‘low risk’ women Complete autonomy to offer the pool to all women
Information and support for women
 Women’s awareness Women don’t necessarily know there is a pool, so don’t ask to use one Women very aware of pools on the unit; most ask to use one
 Information given to women Pool use not fully discussed antenatally Pool use discussed and encouraged antenatally
 Proactive offering of pool Pool not usually offered - women have to be proactive Pool offered / promoted to all women
 Support for women to use a pool Pool use generally discouraged, and in some cases blocked Women are supported / actively encouraged to use a pool