For women planning a home birth since early in their pregnancy, or through a desire late in pregnancy to be in the comfort of their own home, planning for a home birth can seem exciting. However, for families that might need to make a quick change of plans due to fear of their desired birth location, changing your birth team and environment might feel overwhelming. Here are some tips to guide you through preparing for a home birth no matter which path led you here.
GET HEALTHY TO PREPARE FOR HOME BIRTH
Being healthy for home birth is quite ideal. Birth at home is safe when the woman birthing at home is healthy. There is no technique, skill, knowledge, or care provider that can make birth safer than the woman herself. Home birth is statistically so safe because the women birthing at home have been, by default, some of the healthiest women in the population as someone unhealthy to birth at home is risked out if their lifestyle cannot change to improve their overall wellness. Even the medications used to treat complications only buy time for the body to do what it was designed to do, and the nutrients and environment provided throughout and after the birth are at the base of healing. This is up to women to eat well balanced, eliminate non-nourishing foods and other chemicals, and to live a movement-based lifestyle with reduced fear.
- Eat an ample portion of dark leafy greens at every meal
- Eat a rainbow of vegetables and fruits throughout the day
- Drink at least 2-3 quarts of water and/or herbal tea (such as red raspberry leaf, alfalfa, and nettles) daily along with hydrating foods
- Take supplements where you’re lacking, and be sure they’re bioavailable to your body
- Walk an average of 3-5 miles daily (throughout the day, even if this is through your daily chores)
- Stretch throughout the day, change positions, and get bodywork (even if this is a basic massage by someone in your family)
KNOW HOW TO DO A BASIC PRENATAL ASSESSMENT
Knowing signs and symptoms to watch for through pregnancy and birth can help you know when it is truly necessary to seek additional care. For a detailed explanation of how to perform these basic prenatal care assessments and normal ranges, read THIS POST.
- Your blood pressure should be balanced. You will likely feel off if it is not.
- Your pulse should be calm. Hydrate if it is not, seek additional support if this does not balance it.
- Your temperature should be normal during pregnancy.
- Your baby should grow about a centimeter each week. Sometimes, baby’s position changes this measurement, but the measurement should be within 2 weeks +/- of the week of pregnancy you are currently.
- Your urine should be clear to pale yellow.
- Your bowel movements should be easy and smooth and a minimum of once daily.
- You should not have swelling that doesn’t subside with rest or a change of activity.
- Your baby should be moving well after you’ve started feeling movements and reacting to you stimulating them if you palpate your belly.
REDUCE FEAR TO PREPARE FOR HOME BIRTH
Fear causes tension. Tensions causes pain. Pain causes fear. Fear increases blood pressure and pulse. Fear increases adrenaline and stresses mom and baby. Explore your fears and find the information that helps to allay them. If you are preparing for home birth that you are not fully desiring, this is especially important. (This approach is the same for preparing for any birth anywhere, as fear is one of the biggest factors outside of wellness that contribute to complications in birth).
- Practice relaxation techniques that help you to stabilize your breathing
- Read positive birth stories and remind yourself that birth is normally safe (even when moms are not at their ideal health)
- Most birth variations have multiple approaches that a few basic skills, or herbs, can remedy – learn them DOWNLOAD BIRTH COMPLICATION BASIC MANAGEMENT.
- The less we rely on others to “take care of us” or have the answers, the more confident we become. Learn – no matter where you’re planning to birth – so your fear is a non-issue
- Learn comfort techniques like walking, swaying, rhythmic movements, birth balls, hip squeezes, how to move baby’s position, and so much more. These can be learned through Birth Classes, or in-home prenatal care. These options are available virtually, as well.
- Take the Esali Birth Labor & Birth Overview course for a quick run-through of expectations of labor progression and tips for pregnancy and postpartum, or the complete Esali Birth Online Birth Class for more thorough information
GATHER SUPPLIES TO PREPARE FOR HOME BIRTH
Basic home birth supplies can help your home birth be more comfortable and provide you with tools in case labor doesn’t take a straight forward path. Most of the supplies you’ll need are around the house, and a few a midwife can provide. It is helpful to have all your supplies together in one location no later than 36 weeks.
- Prenatal Records (lab results, prenatal care notes, vital sign baselines, list of allergies, back-up provider information, and any other details about your desires that would be beneficial to anyone supporting you – including a birth guide for your desires of how to be cared for)
- Towels & Wash Cloths
- Package of Underpads or absorbent material to place wherever you are during labor and birth
- Sturdy Plastic Sheet to cover and protect your bed in case you birth there
- Nettles & Red Raspberry Leaf tea (or chlorophyll), High-Quality Grape Juice, and anti-hemorrhage herbs if you can get them (though nipple stimulation and your placenta/cord/membranes can be used in lieu of these herbs)
- A long clean string, clean crocheted cord tie, or sterile cord clamp. DON’T cut the cord routinely after birth. Wait until the cord is white and the placenta has been birthed! This is only for if the cord snaps or in a rare case the cord has to be cut early.
- Nourishing, easily-digested, foods. Fruits, soups, dark leafy greens, protein, broths. For you and anyone that might be supporting you.
For a full list of supplies for optimal comfort, DOWNLOAD HOME BIRTH SUPPLY LIST
KNOW YOUR BIRTH SUPPORTERS FOR HOME BIRTH
There are so many people throughout our communities with wide ranges of knowledge about natural childbirth. Many mothers that have planned home births in the past. Doulas that have supported home birth (which is a bit different than supporting birth in the hospital). Midwives and their assistants that have cared for women from pregnancy, birth, and postpartum – as well as provided routine checks on baby. Have a list of people you can call for phone or video support if you plan (or need) to be alone. Find a provider – the sooner the better. If you wait too long in your pregnancy, a provider may not be available. Likewise, a large part of the support a provider gives during labor is from learning about you and your baby during pregnancy. The more time they have to do this, the more care they can provide. If you’re considering home birth because of world changes like COVID19, waiting until the last days of your pregnancy to make a decision might decrease the safety of preparing to birth at home. You can start receiving in-home prenatal care, learn techniques for self-prenatal care in case the home birth caseload for providers significantly increases, and learn techniques for birthing unassisted should the worst-case scenario occur.
SMILE, LOVE, & LIVE LIFE
While planning for a less-than-ideal birth might increase panic, once you become comfortable with your knowledge, these fears will subside. Make the majority of your day focused on positivity, centering yourself, prayer, meditation, a walk in the woods, spending time with family, and going about your daily routine. Women have birthed babies in far worse circumstances with joy and love and health over many centuries. The health and happiness of birth is on your side. Use the last weeks of your pregnancy to be amazed by your incredible body and how wonderfully it has been created.
If you would like more guidance on home birth, self-prenatal care, birth classes, education on birthing unassisted, reach out! My virtual office is open to those outside my radius and support for my local community is available.