How to Prepare for a Home Birth
First things first, when it comes to preparing for a home birth, it is advised to have a prenatal medical check-up and take independent, evidence-based childbirth classes. Then, set up a birth team, create your birth plan, and acquire the needed supplies.
Home Birth vs Hospital Birth
Homebirth is an alternative approach to conventional childbirth in the hospital setting. The desire to give birth in a comfortable place without medical intervention is for some women the main reason why they choose to birth at home. Especially considering pregnancy during COVID-19, home birth has become a more viable option to a birthing center, or even hospital birth. Birthing centers may be harder to find locally. Many proponents of a home birth laud it for the calm, loving environment surrounded by people who choose to be there, handpicked by you. Here are some things to consider if you plan to have a home birth.
Go for a Prenatal Check
Before you plan to have a birth at home, you need to be sure that yours is a low-risk pregnancy. Doctors may be able to rule out any possible complications that could make it necessary to have your birth at the hospital. If you have had previous births through cesarean section, you may feel safer in a hospital with the medical setup immediately available. However, with the go-ahead of a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) by your medical professional, and with a willing midwife, this is something that you still may be able to do at home.
If you have already had prior low-risk births, it is still recommended that you go for a prenatal check and discuss home birth with your doctor or midwife. They may or may not be okay with birth at home, depending on your health condition and that of the unborn child. Overall, the choice is yours, and the more educated you are, the better equipped you are to make an informed decision that weighs the best-case scenario for you and your baby.
Prepare a Birth Team
A birth team is a group of people who will support you through the labor and birthing process. It will also provide support throughout your pregnancy. The labor and birthing process is intense, and you not only need to prepare for it, but you also need to have solid support throughout your labor and unwavering support during the birth. Your team is on YOUR side at all times.
The team may include a birth doula, a trained professional that offers emotional and informational support as you near your due date, a delivery nurse, and a midwife. A lot of people ask if there are doulas covered by health insurance, which in some cases they are. You may also consider hiring a baby planner to help determine who else might be important to have on your team. Perhaps you would like to add a massage therapist, Chiropractor, postpartum doula, photographer, acupuncturist, or even hypnotherapist.
You also may be considering the fact that at home you and your partner can have an intimate setting with minimal intrusion. In this case, you still want to consider having a midwife and doula on your team. Be sure you hire a midwife that follows the midwife model of care to enjoy the benefits of being treated as a normal, healthy pregnant individual. You would have your partner at hand to support you through the process and a doula will complete that circle if you’d like to keep your team to a minimum.
Take Evidence-Based Independent Birth Classes (NOT Hospital-based classes)
You can continue with your natural birth plan without a class. However, it is good to take a class, along with your partner, especially for first-time parents. In the class, you will learn what to expect, what to do in various situations such as breech birth, delayed rupture of the water, and know different birth methods. Such methods include using a birth stool, a standing birth, and birthing in water. Your educator is also an important part of your team and can help you begin the process of creating your birth plan.
The labor process requires emotional and physical preparedness. You will learn to breathe, ‘pushing,’ and resting between uterine contractions. An evidence-based childbirth class also helps your partner to be involved in the birthing process. Having them by your side enhances the birth and allows it to be a positive experience for all three of you.
Your childbirth educator will likely suggest some reading materials that can further help. On my previous blog Birthing from within book review I did a summary on why this is one of my favorites, and a recommendation to any mom-to-be.
Make a Birth Plan
A birth plan includes the environment and preferences for your labor and delivery. It should include pain management, preferred lights, and music in the background. The plan also includes the name of the hospital that you may visit in case of an emergency and the means of transport.
Don’t forget Your Birth Plan regardless of where you decide to give birth at!
Labor and Postpartum Recovery Kit
Have Your Birth Kit in Place
You need enough birthing supplies long before your due date. Your midwife will create a list of items that are required. Here are some of the most important.
- Two Shower curtain liners: The liners are used as extra waterproofing material on the bed. When labor begins, you should have two sets of sheets. In advance, put the first curtain liner under the first sheet and the other under the second sheet. This makes cleanup easy after the birth.
- Two trash bags: One for laundry and one for trash
- A large pile of fresh towels (4-6)
- A roll of paper towels
- A bottle of hydrogen peroxide
- 10 puppy or chux pads to cater for postpartum bleeding
- 10 washcloths and a crockpot to keep them moist / bowl of ice to keep them cold
- A flashlight
- Scissors or cigar cutter (to cut the cord)
- A nasal aspirator to clear the baby’s airways (if necessary)
- A large bowl for the placenta
- A heating pad to keep you warm
Your midwife will also bring other supplies with her, such as cord clamps, disposable gloves, and suture supplies. Talk to your midwife to know what she will be bringing. If you want a water birth, your midwife may give you a list of extra items.
Get Post Birth Supplies
You will need to have additional supplies to use just after birth. Much like a post partum recovery kit. They include:
- Sanitary pads: You can have both disposable and cloth pads. After two to three days, you can use reusable cloth pads.
- Peri-wash bottle: You can fill it with warm water to rinse yourself off every time you go to the bathroom.
- Padsicles (purchased or DIY)
- Manual breast pump
- Prenatal vitamins (Continue to take them while breastfeeding)
You should have newborn baby supplies that include wipes, a nursing pillow, newborn hat, newborn diapers, and a newborn sleeper. To take care of the delicate newborn skin, consider having some olive oil. Use the oil on his or her bottom before putting on the diaper.
Other optional supplies include a camera or video for video capture or photography during the birthing process, a bucket in case you vomit, a birthing ball, Robozo, and some essential oils to calm you during the labor process.
Having a baby is amazing! If you opt for your home as the setting, learning how to prepare for a home birth will empower for the best experience possible. You can read out successful home birth stories. All the best in your next home birth.
Prepare and Plan for a Home Birth Ahead of Time
After considering the pros and cons of a home birth comparing with a hospital or a birthing center setting, it is time to start to plan accrodingly. If you choose to give birth in your house, go through the checklist above and ensure that you took care of every aspect. The success of your delivery will greatly depend on how prepared you are for it as well.
The information contained on this site should not be construed as medical advice nor should it replace the advice and individual care of your health care provider.
Hi, I’m Susan Finazzo! I’m a certified Birth Doula, Birth coach, and Childbirth Educator from Port St Lucie, Florida. In addition to that, I am also a Faith-Based Counselor. I have over 10 years experience helping women having a positive birthing experience and would love to make a difference on yours too!
How to Prep For A Home Birth
As a birth and labor doula, my mission is to guide you through your options and what to expect. If you choose to deliver your baby at home, be sure to have all the information and support you need to make your own decisions. I will be happy to guide you through how to prep for a birth and empower you on your own labor process.