Planning a home birth is simpler than you might think! This post takes a look at the list of preparations that you might need to consider in anticipation of giving birth at home. Trust me, if you’ve planned a small party than you can plan a home birth…in fact, the to-do lists for both are actually quite similar. You’ll have to gather supplies, prepare some refreshments, set the mood, choose an outfit and possibly plan childcare. I hope that this list will help to make ‘birth’ day party planning even easier.
Let's begin with a look at the supplies that need to be gathered. Of course, your midwives will provide all of the essential medical equipment and emergency provisions. Many midwifery clinics will supply some of these things for you, so be sure to check with your midwife before going on a shopping spree! Once you have everything you need, gather it all together in a laundry basket.
MUST HAVES- these supplies are mostly about keeping things clean and safe
Disposable Underpads- These are one of the most important items in a home birth kit. They catch all the mess, and then you throw them out. I recommend having 10 small underpads and 10 large underpads, at least.
Waterproof Sheets/Plastic Drop Sheet/Shower Curtain- Use these items under your bed sheets, or to cover your couch/carpet. This will make clean up even easier!
Flashlight- A flashlight helps with visibility during a water birth or while your midwife is suturing. If you are in a pinch and don’t have a flashlight, the flashlight app on your phone will do.
Thermometer- There are some circumstances where your midwife will advise taking your temperature in labour, so having a thermometer on hand is important.
3 Large Bowls/Containers- Many lists out there will advise having one bowl, but I say 3! One bowl is for the placenta, one is to use as a water basin for cool cloths, and the last in case you vomit…I know, it’s not glamorous, but a possibility.
Heavy Flow Menstrual Pads or Adult Diapers- I think you get the idea behind these, but for those who don’t know, once the bloody show and amniotic fluid starts flowing, it doesn’t stop! So you’ll be wearing these for most of your labour.
Garbage Bags- Having 2 ready to use garbage bags makes birthing at home virtually mess-free. One will be for garbage, the other for laundry. Have them propped somewhere, and labeled if you are Type-A like me.
Towels, Washcloths & Receiving Blankets- You can never have too many!
Large Ziplock Freezer Bag- This will be used to store your placenta (in your freezer or fridge) until you dispose of it, or use it for encapsulation, planting a tree, etc.
SHOULD HAVES- these supplies aren’t necessary, but make clean up easier and recovery more comfortable
Peri Bottle- This handy toilet-side companion gets filled with either warm water or postpartum herbal tea and is used to clean the perineum instead of using toilet paper. Also, it might sting a little bit when you pee for those first few days and squirting the peri bottle at the same time can minimize this sensation. I suggest having one of these for each bathroom, and for the diaper bag!
Hydrogen Peroxide- Handy for if you get a blood stain on carpet or furniture.
Sweet Almond Oil- For perineal massage during the pushing phase.
Perineal Cold Packs- There is nothing better right after birth than wearing a nice cool and soothing pad!
Postpartum Herbal Bath- Have your doula or partner make this postpartum tea in the hour or two after the birth. Before you get your pjs on and snuggle in for the day/night, take a glorious bath you’re your newborn in these soothing herbs. And don’t forget to put the leftover tea in your peri bottle!
NICE TO HAVES- these items are sure to help your birth be more comfortable and memorable
Bendy Straw- I have debated putting this in the “must have” list…seriously, just get bendy straws.
Labour Massage Oil
Hook for IV Bag- You'll get bonus points if you have a coat tree, or something else near the bed, that your midwives can hook a hanger to if an IV is needed.
PREPARE SOME REFRESHMENTS
As we all know, labour and birth can be a long process. Many midwives and doulas will bring their won snacks, but it never hurts to have a few things prepared for your birth team and other guests to graze on. Some easy options include crackers with cheese, fruit/veggie tray, hummus with pita, or even a casserole of some sort. And don’t forget coffee! It’s likely that your birth team will need a caffeine jolt at some point during labour.
SET THE MOOD
Just like a good party, a good atmosphere is a must. You are already ahead of the game when planning a home birth, because it’s more than likely that you find your own home comfortable and safe. Consider kicking it up a notch by making a music playing, getting some candles, or using aromatherapy. Some popular essential oils for labour include clary sage, peppermint or lavender. Also try to make your home birth friendly by decluttering your space as much as possible. This helps your midwives lay out their equipment and to be able to locate things, such power outlets, easily.
CHOOSE AN OUTFIT
What to wear?...What to wear? Isn’t this the age-old question when you are planning a party? Some might take the easy route and wear nothing while in labour! Others may opt for the mesh underwear and bra combo, or even a comfy nighty. It doesn’t matter what you wear, it only matters that you are comfortable, and that you wear something that you don’t mind getting dirty. Don’t forget to be grateful that you won’t be wearing a hospital gown! Those things are far from comfortable.
PLAN CHILDCARE/PET CARE
Some people are comfortable with their children at the birth, however, some are not. Either way, it’s a good idea to have someone available to watch any older siblings. They could come to your home to assist with your child(ren) during the birth, or take them somewhere else. If you opt for the take them somewhere else option, don’t forget to pack overnight bags for your kids during your home birth preparations. You may also want to consider arranging for pet care for during your home birth.
There you have it, it’s as easy as planning a party! And your nesting urge with thank-you.
Kiss-ass doula, pretty okay-ish mom, spreadsheet enthusiast, punctuality freak, ice cream addict.