Five birthing centres were approached for permission to administer a questionnaire, giving a sample of 189 mothers who had experienced waterbirth. Mothers who had Apgars lower than 7 at 1 were excluded from the sample for ethical reasons. The results showed that waterbirth is a consumer-led trend, mainly pursued by educated middle class women. Better antenatal preparation is needed to reduce the need for other forms of analgesia when women are in water. Most women desired waterbirth as they thought it was a natural drug-free method and would be a less painful birth. They also wanted a gentle delivery for the baby and thought waterbirth seemed the right medium for this. They felt more in control of their environment in water, and particularly liked the relaxing calming quality of the water, the physical support it gave them and being able to hold their babies immediately after birth. Women's responses to the survey suggested that mothers perceived waterbirth as therapeutic. They demonstrated a strong desire for water in labour. There were no significant behaviour differences between water-born babies and non water-born babies.