17th Feb 2023
We sometimes muse on the fact that there is no consensus definition of a birth pool. With all the noise about ChatGPT, we decided to see what it came up with.
In response to the question “What is a birth pool”, ChatGPT came back with:
“A birth pool is a large, inflatable tub that is used during the labor and delivery process. Birth pools are typically filled with warm water and are used to provide comfort and support to the woman giving birth. Some women find that being in water helps to reduce pain and discomfort during labor, and can also provide a sense of buoyancy and relaxation. Birth pools can be used in a variety of settings, including hospitals, birth centers, and at home. They can also be used for water birth, in which the baby is born while submerged in water.”
From our perspective, this answer is almost perfect. The key elements of space, comfort, buoyancy, relaxation and reduced perception of pain are all in there. And the key safety issue of the baby being submerged during birth in water. Great start.
One word should not have been in there, or at least should have been qualified - “inflatable”. At least in terms of current practice, there are more births in pools with a hard interior surface than in an inflatable one.
What about omissions? It is notable that the answer does not say anything about hygiene and also nothing about the support of a suitably trained health professional. And it does not mention the sense of privacy that a woman feels when entering the water - essential to relaxation and the production of the hormone oxytocin. The question of buoyancy is left as being relative to the size of the woman in labour. This is correct but does not inform a choice that a hospital may need to make between pools offered to them. We agree with the minimum water depth of 16” (41cm) given by Janet Balaskas in The Water Birth Book.
"We are going to give ChatGPT a 9/10 score on this one. Great work!"
Adam Maclean & Ai
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