What do I need for a home birth?
Bringing a new life into the world is a momentous occasion and choosing a home birth can offer a comfortable and intimate environment for this transformative experience. Thorough preparation is always important when you’re planning your birth, but it might look a little different if you’re hoping to stay at home. In this blog, we will explore the essential elements required for a successful and safe home birth, addressing topics ranging from preparation and necessities to the ideal birthing location and attire.
How to Prepare for a Home Birth
Preparing for a home birth often starts early in pregnancy and involves careful consideration and lucid planning. Here are some crucial steps to ensure a smooth and positive experience:
- Choose a Qualified Healthcare Provider: Selecting a skilled midwife, who is experienced in home births is paramount. A professional who can offer comprehensive prenatal care, monitor your health, and guide you through the birthing process is essential for a safe home birth.
- Create a Birth Plan: Collaborate with your midwife to develop a detailed birth plan that outlines your preferences for labour, pain relief options, and postpartum care. This plan will serve as a guide for you and your birthing team on the big day.
- Educate Yourself: Your midwife will provide antenatal education to familiarise you with the stages of labour, pain management techniques, and potential complications. Being informed will help you feel more confident and empowered during pregnancy and labour.
- Assemble Your Birthing Team: Alongside your midwife, you can involve your partner, a doula, a close family member or friend(s) as a support system. Do you want a birth photographer? The beauty of having your baby at home is that there is no strict rules about who can attend and when, meaning that you can have as many or as little people there as you want. Their presence can provide emotional and physical support throughout labour. Should your birth change location to the hospital for any reason, your midwife will accompany you alongside your chosen birthing partner and remain with you until a minimum of 2 hours post birth, to advocate for you, help with hygiene needs and support you with feeding your baby.
What to Prepare for a Home Birth
Gathering the necessary supplies and creating a comfortable environment is essential for a successful home birth. Here’s a comprehensive list of items to prepare:
- Clean and dry towels and blankets for both you and your baby. These don’t need to be new, in fact, older towels, throws and blankets are preferable to ensure comfort and warmth, but not at the expense of your prized possessions.
- Absorbent pads/plastic sheeting/shower curtains to protect surfaces. These can be covered with old sheets or blankets to protect furniture both before and after birth, whilst still making them comfortable.
- Birthing pool or large tub (if planning a water birth). Birth pools can be hired, bought or borrowed and come in a variety of sizes.
- Extra pillows for positioning and support.
- Multiuse bucket/bowl. Having a bucket or bowl handy can be used for a multitude of things, from emptying water from the birth pool, to being a receptacle for the placenta, or even a makeshift potty.
- Aromatherapy oils or scents for relaxation.
- Ice packs and/or heating pads for pain relief.
- Relaxing music or calming playlists.
- Birth ball/bean bags/pillows to aid positional changes and provide support.
- Soft lighting such as battery operated fairy lights to increase oxytocin.
- Birth affirmations to read/be read to you throughout labour.
Nutritious Snacks and Hydration:
- Keep a variety of easy-to-eat snacks on hand to maintain energy levels.
- Stay hydrated with water or isotonic drinks.
- Your healthcare provider will bring all the medical equipment they need, such as a doppler or sonic-aid for monitoring the baby’s heartbeat, medication that may be needed, emergency equipment and sterile instruments for any necessary procedures.
- Even though we know you aren’t planning to birth in the hospital, it is worth being prepared in case a transfer to an obstetric unit is required or you change your mind on where you wish to give birth.
- During your homebirth or just after, having a hospital bag ready means that your birthing team can get any clothing or supplies you might want or need without having to rummage through your home, or asking you questions.
Where to Give Birth at Home
Choosing the right location within your home for giving birth is vital. Usually we recommend birthing your baby on the ground floor (or the same floor as the exit) in case an emergency transfer is required. However, as with everything birth related, the choice is yours. Here are some considerations for selecting the ideal space:
Quiet and Private: Opt for a room that is quiet and secluded from the rest of the household, allowing you to focus and maintain a sense of privacy.
Access to Utilities: Ensure the chosen space has easy access to bathroom facilities (or a convenient alternative). Having snacks and drinks close by is essential.
Adequate Space: The birthing area will need to be able to accommodate you, your birthing team and any equipment that may be needed. There should be enough space to perform emergency manoeuvres, allow you to be mobile during labour, and if using a birth pool, allow your midwife to walk all the way around the pool.
Natural Light and Warmth: If possible, choose a room with ample natural light and good ventilation to create a pleasant atmosphere. Many homebirths happen at night, so having soft lighting and the ability to heat your room up quickly is essential to create a warm and comfortable space for you and your baby.
Remember, you are never confined to just one room when birthing at home and you can change your mind throughout your labour. Your birthing team will move equipment and set up your new space as quickly as possible.
What to Wear for a Home Birth
Comfort and practicality are key when deciding what to wear during a home birth. Being naked, is most certainly an option, as long as you are comfortable, we are happy. If you don’t fancy being in your birthday suit, consider these clothing options:
Comfortable Dressing Gown or Robe: A loose-fitting, comfortable gown or robe allows for easy movement and provides coverage while allowing your healthcare provider access for monitoring.
Birthing Bra or Tank Top: A supportive bra or tank top can offer comfort and easy access for breastfeeding.
Warm Socks and Slippers: Keep your feet warm with cosy socks and slippers.
Loose Fitting T-Shirts or Dresses: This can allow freedom of movement, comfort and still provide dignity.
Swimwear or Birthing Bikini: If planning a water birth, a swimwear option such as a tankini/bikini can provide coverage and comfort in the birthing pool.
Preparing for a home birth requires careful planning, thoughtful consideration, and the right supplies. By collaborating with a skilled healthcare provider, gathering essential items, creating a comfortable birthing environment, and choosing suitable attire, you can embark on this remarkable journey with confidence and excitement. Remember that every birth experience is unique, and with the right preparation, you can create cherished memories of bringing your baby into the world within the comfort of your own home.
At Private Midwives, many of our midwives are extremely experienced and skilled in facilitating homebirths, if you are interested in birthing your baby at home or simply want to discuss your choices, why not contact us for an informal chat today.