Aim: To examine women's attempts at control during labour in water.
Design: An exploratory design consisting of tape-recorded, in-depth interviews using the grounded theory approach.
Setting: A medium sized town in the south of England. The data were collected in the maternity unit of a local general hospital set in a semi-rural location.
Participants: Nine women who had chosen to spend their labour process in water. The participants selected had experienced a normal pregnancy and given birth to a healthy baby at term.
Findings: Labour in water was seen by all but one of the participants as beneficial, particularly as they felt that this gave them more control over the process. They valued their own involvement in determining the outcome of their care. The support of the midwife in making decisions was seen as necessary to remain in control.
Conclusions: Labour in water was a positive experience for this group of healthy women. The feeling of freedom to make decisions, however, was balanced with a wish for the support of the midwife.