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How To Prepare For a Home Birth

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This post with tips on how to prepare for a home birth has been sponsored by Earth Mama. 

It’s hard for me to believe but I’m already 33 weeks into this pregnancy! Last week the ladies at my church threw me a baby shower so this week I decided it was probably time to start putting my home birth kit together. Since I know a lot of people are curious about home births, today I thought I’d share with you how to prepare for a home birth — or at least, how I do!

How to prepare for a home birth

How to Prepare for a Home Birth

Find a Midwife

First and foremost, you need to find a home birth midwife. I learned early on that not all midwives are created equal. In fact, with my first pregnancy I initially planned for a hospital birth, but when I learned that the midwives I was seeing were not very supportive of an all natural, drug-free birth (what I desired) I realized that I needed to switch care providers. My search ultimately led me to choose a local home birth midwife.

There are 2 types of midwives: Certified Professional Midwife (CPM/CM) and Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM). A CNM is educated and licensed as a nurse first, and then complete additional education in midwifery. A CPM is educated or trained as a midwife without becoming a nurse first.

The easiest way to find a home birth midwife in your area is to talk to friends or family who have had a home birth and see who they used and what their experience was. If you don’t know anyone currently who’s had a home birth, you can try searching for one in your area on Birth Partner’s website. You could also look for a local doula or check with a Bradley childbirth educator (many of them will have information on how to find a home birth midwife in your area). Lastly, if none of those options work for you, see if there is a local natural parenting group for our area on Facebook.

Assemble Your Home Birth Supplies

Labor Supplies

Your midwife will probably have a list of supplies she’d like you to have available for your home birth. For my home births, I always make sure I have:

  • 2 Disposable Shower Curtain Liners (These are used on the bed as an extra waterproof barrier). Hopefully, you already have a high-quality waterproof cover on your mattress. When your labor begins (if there is time, you’ll want to remake your bed with 2 sets of sheets. Put a disposable shower curtain under the first sheet set, and the second under the second set of sheets. This way, after the baby is born and everything has been cleaned up, you can take the top layer of sheets off of the bed to be washed and you’ll have fresh sheets ready to go underneath (plush the extra mattress protector in place for the first few days postpartum.
  • 2 large black trash bags – We usually only end up needing one, but it’s nice to have a spare on ready.
  • A fresh roll of paper towels
  • Hydrogen Peroxide – I never knew this before having a baby, but hydrogen peroxide works amazingly well to remove blood stains!
  • Chux pads or Puppy Pads (at least 10)
  • Nasal Aspirator
  • 10 small washcloths
  • Small CrockPot (used to keep washcloths warm and moist)
  • 10 receiving or swaddle blankets
  • Heating pad (used to keep blankets warm)
  • Flashlight
  • Large bowl for the placenta
  • 2 large freezer size Ziploc Bags – these are for if you want to save your placenta

My midwife also brings some supplies with her, like disposable gloves, cord clamps, suture supplies, etc. Again, you’ll want to check with your midwife to see what items she’s already bringing.

Water Birth Supplies

If you are planning a water birth (which I highly recommend) you’ll need to gather a few additional supplies for labor. Even if you don’t end up giving birth in the water, it’s a great place to labor! For a waterbirth you’ll need:

  • An inflatable pool. The inflatable pool brand I purchased in 2012 has since been discontinued, however, there are a number of brands available to choose from.
  • disposable pool liner. This makes the cleanup process much easier and keeps things sanitary!
  • Floating thermometer
  • 1 hose (Medical grade Vinyl, Lead-Free)
  • 1 faucet adapter
  • Electric Inflater/Deflater
  • Water Removal Pump
  • Plastic Drop Cloth or Extra Towels – With my first water birth, we put tarps down all over the floor and I have to admit, I hated listening to everyone walk back and forth over that thing. After that, we’ve just used extra towels on the floor when/if I got out of the birth tub and was dripping water.

How to prepare for a home birth

If you have a large garden tub, check with your midwife because you may be able to use that instead of an inflatable tub. If so, you’ll just need the floating thermometer and towels mentioned above.

Postpartum Supplies

While the supplies above will be used during the birth, it’s also important to have supplies ready to go for immediately after the birth. Over the years, I’ve learned about a few items that I make sure I have on-hand for the hours and days following a baby‘s birth. They are:

  • Sanitary Pads – I prefer to have cloth pads and a small supply of disposable pads. After the first 48 hours or so, I switch over to almost always using reusable cloth pads. They are so much more comfortable!
  • Peri-wash bottle – For the first few days after giving birth, I fill my bottle with warm water so I can rinse myself off each time I go to the bathroom.
  • Earth Mama Herbal Sitz Bath, Earth Mama Herbal Perineal Spray & Earth Mama Herbal Perineal Balm – Your perineal region will likely need some extra TLC for the first days and weeks after giving birth. These three products are a LIFESAVER and will really help with that post-birth soreness and hemorrhoids!
  • Earth Mama Periodic TeaEarth Mama makes a lot of great pregnancy teas, but the Periodic Tea is a must-have for new moms! This tea is perfect to help regulate and balance those crazy postpartum hormones naturally plus it also helps with cramps and other postpartum symptoms. (It’s great for when your period starts back up again too!)
  • After-Birth Tincture – Ever since my first baby I’ve had after-birth contractions. They are horrible! I use a combination of after-birth tincture and the Earth Mama Periodic Tea mentioned above to provide relief when those cramps get bad!
  • Disposable mesh underwear

Some of these items (especially the medical supply items) can be tricky to track down. You won’t generally find them on Amazon.com. For the things I can’t find locally or via Amazon, I shop at PreciousArrows. When you’re in the early stages of labor, that’s a good time to place these items in your bathroom so they are easily accessible right after the birth. A small basket on top of the toilet is a great place to keep them all together.

How to prepare for a home birth

Newborn Supplies

You’ll want to have a few things handy and ready to go for your new baby. Here are the things I put with my home birth supplies for my newborn.

  • A comfy onesie, newborn sleeper, or gown
  • Newborn diapers
  • Newborn hat
  • Swaddle blankets
  • Nursing Pillow
  • Wipes
  • Olive Oil – Use this to coat baby‘s bottom before putting on his or her diaper. It will help make it easier to wipe off the meconium, baby‘s first bowel movement(s), which are thick and tar-like.

Additional Supplies To Consider

These are things/people that aren’t necessary, but ones you might want to consider! They include:

  • A camera and/or video camera and a tripod or location you can set it up.
  • A photographer
  • A doula
  • Essential oils for labor
  • Homeopathic remedies for labor
  • Light snacks for early labor
  • Hard candies you can suck on if you need a sugar boost during labor
  • Juice boxes
  • Birthing ball
  • Tumbler with straw or water bottle
  • A large (clean) bucket or pot in case you vomit during labor (I know, not pleasant to talk or think about, but it does happen sometimes.)
  • Soothing music to play during labor
  • I also make sure I have plenty of coffee on hand for my midwife and her assistant. Many of my births have happened in the middle of the night.
  • Info on obtaining a birth certificate in your state. For me, I just go to my local health department and they have everything I need.

Create a Birth Plan

Even if you are planning to give birth at home, you should still have a birth plan in place, not only for your home birth but also in case of a transfer to the hospital. Not sure where to begin when making a birth plan? Earth Mama has this amazing, FREE birth plan tool that will help you create a comprehensive birth plan in minutes!

Create a Lying In Plan

Have you ever heard of “lying-in”? Lying-in, at one time, was a common childbirth practice involving a woman having a period of bed rest immediately following the birth of her baby for 2-6 weeks. It was a required even if there were no medical complications. The husband, along with her mom, mother-in-law, sisters, aunts, and other friends and relatives (typically females) would chip in to help a mother so she could rest as much as possible.

You can read more about lying in here.

I actually had a wonderful conversation about this practice with Dr. Harvey Karp (author of the Happiest Toddler on the Block and Happiest baby on the Block books). We talked about how much harder motherhood has become as lying-in has slowly been phased out of postpartum care. It’s truly unfortunate. Moms and babies need this time!

It’s time we bring the practice of lying in BACK! Earth Mama has a helpful lying-in plan that you can fill out and print. There’s a place to fill in the names and contact info for friends and family who are willing to help you out as needed during those first few days and weeks, plus the ability to prioritize the things you want and need most during that time.

And, if I could make a suggestion — post a link to this lying-in plan on Facebook and let your friends/family know that you are working on it and looking for volunteers. Oftentimes we DO have people in our lives willing to help us out if we just ask for it!

Read Birth Stories, Birth Literature, and Watch Birth Stories

My last tip on how to prepare for a home birth is to watch and read about home and/or natural drug-free births from others. The internet is a great place to read about home births from other women. I’ve had 4 home births myself and shared about each birth on this blog. You can read Maggie’s home water birth, Jacob’s home birth (where his shoulders got stuck), Zellene’s home birth story, and Gideon’s home birth story (my baby who was born en caul!). You can find many other home birth stories online and videos on YouTube.

There are also a lot of great books that can help you prepare for a home birth. My favorites are Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and Dr. Bradley’s Husband Coached Childbirth.

If you’re currently pregnant, I just want to wish you the best of luck and congratulate you on your little one(s)! I hope you have a wonderful childbirth experience!

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