Planning for a home birth is exciting! There is very little you have to do to prepare for a home birth - and essentially, you don't need any extras - but it is a good idea to have a birth kit ready for your birth team to make things easier and more comfortable. Every midwife has their own preference for what they routinely use at each birth, but if you're unsure or preparing an unassisted birth, the following are the basics you may want to consider:
From about 37 weeks on, you'll want to keep your house tidy, particularly around the expected birth area. This is so attendants can maneuver easily (especially without disturbing mama). Birth is not meant to be sterile, but putting a little feng shui into your home can help with positive birth and postpartum energy.
You'll also want to prep your bed with some type of waterproof liner. Shower curtains work great for this. You'll place a fitted sheet on your mattress, overlay the shower curtain, and then another old (one you don't care to get soiled) fitted sheet on top. This is so any birth liquids can be easily removed after the birth, discarded as you wish, and you have a freshly made bed in a matter of seconds. (Don't worry too much if you stay out of the bed for labor and birth and your sheets are crisp and clean... this is common. The bathroom is quite a likely spot for labor and birth). Some moms prefer an older sheet on the bottom as well so there are little worries about postpartum bleeding. You may even add a waterproof crib mattress or mattress cover under your side of the bed for this reason.
Other items to have in an easily accessible location include:
- 1 Dozen Underpads (Chux pads) for catching fluids during labor/birth
- Sterile Bulb Syringe for suctioning baby if needed (this is not a routine thing, and can be done with your mouth - but not everyone is up for that)
- Sterile shoe laces or cord clamp (note that if the cord is actually left to top pulsing, or you're planning a lotus birth, a clamp is not necessary)
- Scissors to cut the cord
- Roll of paper towels, newspapers, or 3 dozen gauze pads for soaking up birth fluids wherever you may be laboring
- 2 dozen towels/wash cloths (great for cooling mom's forehead, wiping up fluids, counter pressure on the perineum...etc.)
- Large bowl (that you can squat over) to catch the placenta
- Flexible straws (you have no idea how beneficial this can be when mom needs to stay hydrated and can't concentrate on holding a cup!)
- Emergency numbers & map to nearest hospital near the phone - just in case
- Peri-bottle in case of any perineal tears for postpartum
- Box of Depends or Box of hospital-sized or overnight sanitary napkins & mesh panties (mesh panties aren't necessary, but they're super easy to clean and dry really fast).
- Flashlight with extra batteries (for perineal inspection after birth)
- Healthy foods on hand for mama and the birth team (don't forget freezer foods for postpartum)
- Antiseptic soap (like Dial) for washing up for hands that may be near the perineum.
- Few sets of sterile gloves.
- Medicinal Herbs such as peppermint in case mom has trouble urinating, or comfrey leaf for postpartum sitz bath (comfrey leaf can also be added to water on a sanitary napkin, and frozen, which helps soothe the perineum and vagina postpartum). Other herbs for postpartum can be found here.
- Birth Guide for Home (this is often more for cultural reasons in a home birth setting rather than advocacy, but don't be afraid to write down your wishes just to make sure your birth team knows what you'd like throughout labor and postpartum).
- Birth Guide for "In Case of Transfer" and a small bag packed with overnight clothes, toiletries...etc. for you (your birth partner) and the baby.
- Peroxide for cleaning any blood that may get on the floor
- Witch Hazel for postpartum
Many of these items can be found in your local big-box store, but there are also some great places online that make purchasing birth kits super easy. Your midwife may also be registered at one of these sites where all you need to do is search their name and purchase their birth kit with all the things they prefer to have nearby.
There are many places, and by simply searching "birth kits" on the internet, you can find a lot of options. You can get a variety of extras from these places as well such as foot printing kits, blood typing kits, and other keepsake items like birth certificates and baby clothes.
Some other comfort items - similar to what you would take to a hospital birth - include:
- Hair bands/barettes
- Comfortable birth clothes, robe, gown for postpartum
- Breath mints for birth team
- Ice chips/Popcycles/Lollipops/hard candy
- Chap Stick
- Tennis ball/massage rollers/lotion/oil
- Rice-filled s0ck to warm/cool mom's back...etc.
- Charged camera, film, video camera, batteries, extra tapes
- Nursing bra
- Nursing pads and/or cloth diaper inserts
- Receiving Blanket
- Warm baby clothes
- Car seat properly installed & checked
- Full tank of gas in your vehicle
The best thing is to check with your midwife and see if there are specifics they prefer, and why they use each item. But this is a great basic list of items beneficial to a home birth.
Additionally, consider the following:
Esali Birth's Perinatal Pocket Guide which has a lot of tips and tricks for labor and birth (whether in a home or hospital) and is an excellent quick reference during the entire perinatal period.
You may also consider Dr. Gregory White's Emergency Childbirth that goes over emergency situations should you be planning an unassisted birth (and don't have professional help for emergencies) or in a situation that you may need to access quick emergency information.
Be sure all of these things are all in one, easily accessible location, and happy home birthing!