…Okay, so all you really need is yourself and your baby. However, part of the reason why home birth is so fab is that you can make your surroundings perfect for you. There are little to no restrictions as to who and what will be around you when you birth.
When I was planning my own home birth, I spent hours trawling the web to find ideas of things that would aid me in making my birth a fulfilling experience. So, I thought I would compile a concise list of every idea I came across in case it might help someone planning their own home birth. You certainly don’t need all (or any) of these things if you don’t want them. Or, like me, you could compile the perfect Birth Box and not get to use any of it, thanks to a super-speedy labour!
I hope this list is helpful to you! It doesn’t include things like disposable underwear and maternity pads that you might want for any birth (those are saved for another day’s list!), just things that would be particularly lovely to have at a home birth.
#1 – A Birth Box
Select a box to keep all of your bits and pieces in one place. This makes your life a lot easier when the time comes, and your midwives/attendants will be happy to be able to find things for you straight away, if and when you need them.
Also, having a Birth Box eliminates the issue of having a ‘just in case’ hospital bag packed. My midwives encouraged me to pack a bag in case of transfer, but I really didn’t want to. I felt like packing a bag was too negative; I needed to believe 100% that I WOULD birth at home. So, a Birth Box was a good compromise. My midwives were happy that everything I might need in case of transfer was close to hand, and I was happy because there was no assumption that anything would go wrong.
I also put together a little Baby Box too, with Squish’s first outfit, first nappy and a cute little blankie.
#2 – A Note to Yourself
Choose a pretty note card and write a little note to yourself. On the note could be a list of things to do once you know the baby is on it’s way (call midwives, get birth pool set up, RELAX, call mum to ask her to pick children up from school, RELAX, etc), a list of phone numbers that your partner might need (saves you scrabbling around for your phone to find the midwives’ number) and perhaps an affirmation or two to remind you to stay grounded. It seems like a silly idea, but even the most levelheaded and organised of women can become flustered when labour kicks in. It’s nerve-wracking and exciting, after all!
#3 – A Slow Cooker/Crock-Pot
No, you’re not going to cook for your attendants with it (although that might be a good way to distract yourself during slow labour!). A crock pot set on low heat is a perfect place to store hot compresses for use on the perineum during labour.
#4 – Essential Oils
The use of fragrance can be a powerful tool to help you relax and encourage labour. Clary Sage oil in particular has the effect of stimulating contractions.
#5 – Towels
…and lots of them! You can get your birth partner to stuff one up his or her jumper just before your baby is born to warm it for them. They will also be necessary if you are going to use a birth pool at any point during your labour. Although you may like the idea of hanging our in the tub for the whole of the labour, you may find yourself wanting to get in and out frequently, so make sure you have a decent stash of big towels.
#6 – A Birth Pool
Unfortunately I didn’t have the time to use mine, but I’m still glad we had it! Water is fantastic for relieving discomfort during labour, and as long as you have the space there is no reason why you cant harness the relaxing power of water at your own birth. We chose one by ‘Birth Pool in a Box’. The mini one fit nicely in our dinky living room and there was plenty of room in there. My hubby could easily have jumped in, too.
#7 – Some Candles
We all know that relaxation is the key to a comfortable labour, so make your surroundings as relaxing as possible! Some little tea lights scattered around can create a wonderful ambience (but make sure that their location isn’t a fire risk!).
Related Post: 10 reasons to choose home birth
#8 – A Music Player
Similarly, music can help create a very relaxing space. Again, we didn’t have time for anything like that with our home birth, but we certainly prepared a playlist! Mine included mainly chants and meditations, plus some relaxing tracks by Norah Jones, Adele and Tracy Chapman. Amusingly, I discovered on my natural-birth-forum-trawling that Tool are a popular musical choice for labour!
#9 – Food and Drink
Make sure you have some food and drink available for the people attending your birth. You don’t have to put out a spread (although some women like to), just some biscuits and cakes (or crackers, anything quick to grab) in the cupboard and some fruit in the fruit bowl will do for hungry midwives and birth partners. You may be hungry during the birth (and certainly afterwards), so it’s wise to have some light snacks on hand for yourself, too. Oh, and make sure your tea, coffee and sugar jars are fully stocked!
#10 – Glucose Sweets
Some women find themselves unable to eat during labour but in need of an energy boost – glucose sweets, or isotonic energy drinks, are great for giving you that burst of energy you may need at the end of a long labour.
#11 – Your Birth Plan
Make sure you have a copy or two spare for anybody who might need one. Also make sure your hand-held maternity notes are handy (with a copy of your birth plan tucked inside) Read more about how to write a birth plan.
#12 – A Mirror
#13 – A Labour Outfit
You’ll probably end up naked like the vast majority of birthing women, but some ladies like to have a special outfit set aside for their labours. I wore a comfy nursing bra and a pair of calf-length pyjama bottoms. Obviously I lost the bottoms, but the top stayed on until post-birth when it was removed for skin-to-skin with Squishy.
#14 – A Camera
Always, always make sure you have a digital camera to take pictures at your birth. You’ll regret it if you don’t. Don’t worry about not looking your best; I am one of the least photogenic people in the world and yet my favourite photos of myself are those snapped straight after the birth of my Squishy-Man. You can’t beat that natural, post-birth glow.
#15 – Disposable Incontinence Sheets
Ok, so they may not be very environmentally friendly but they are absolutely invaluable at a home birth. They are the perfect size for your midwife to tuck underneath you at the point of birth to protect your carpets, and you can put one on your sofa to sit on after the birth to protect it from normal postnatal bleeding. One lady I know used them to line the path from her bedroom to the toilet in order to protect her cream carpets (although she didn’t bleed at all until the point of birth, so they weren’t needed after all)!
Of course, you could use plastic sheeting covered with sheets to make it less slippy. This is more environmentally friendly because it can be re-used, but it’s more of a pain to deal with later.
I may or may not have accidentally made myself broody again by writing this list… ahem. Anyway, I’d love to read your contributions! What did you find invaluable at your home birth? Or what are you planning on using?