There’s a lot more to prepare when you are planning a home birth. It isn’t a matter of having your hospital bag packed. You need to have your space prepared.
I’ve created a list of things that I found helpful during my labor and delivery at home.
1. All supplies recommended by your midwife
This is probably obvious. I ordered all my supplies from Precious Arrows. Look over the list, though. You may want more of some things, for example: those mesh panties that you can toss after you wear them. Some moms love them, others hate them. I loved them and was sad I only had one pair.
2. Supplies for your bathroom
One thing I loved about birthing at home, was that I got to use my own toilet. I bought soft, cushy toilet paper, knowing my bottom might be sore after delivery. I put out unscented soap for everyone to use, not knowing what smells might bother me.
3. A birth ball
I’d recommend this for any laboring mother. You can achieve some very comfortable positions that allow you to rest and move your hips. Penny Simkin has some great labor position suggestions. It's also easy seating for anyone on your birth team. Added bonus: many babies are soothed by being held while a parent bounces on the ball. Second added bonus: older siblings will enjoy playing with it and will stay out of your hair.
4. A birth tub
After my first labor, I couldn’t imagine laboring without being able to immerse myself completely in water. My tub at home is not as big as many hospital or birth center tubs. I found this chart particularly helpful and went with the cheapest option. It didn’t have the bells and whistles of the tubs specifically designed for birth, but the sides were sturdy and it was large. (Side note: I didn’t end up using this in labor, because things went quickly, but I knew it was there should I change my mind.) Be sure to check if you need a motor to inflate the pool.
5. Ice packs of various sizes
Frozen peas work great. I needed these around my head to stave off nausea and after the birth I used them on my perineum to reduce swelling.
6. Washcloths you don’t mind getting messy
Warm compresses during the pushing phase are wonderful. I highly recommend at least ten of these so you can continually replace them with warmer ones.
I viewed my labor and birth as a social event and as an athletic/endurance feat. I really enjoyed this part of my nesting. I made lasagnas and spinach, egg, and cheese casseroles to be heated up easily during and after labor. I was hungry after giving birth and these things were delicious. Think filling and think protein. I also stocked my fridge full of every kind of beverage I thought I or my team might want: seltzer water, juice, coconut water, sports drink, soda. I set up our sideboard with various types of tea bags and snacks for the labor team. We had granola bars, almonds, dried fruit, peanut butter sandwich crackers etc. This was also great for when people visited in those first few days. I didn’t need to play hostess, I could just direct people to our little snack bar. You don’t know what you might want to eat in labor, so it’s good to have lots of options on hand. Honey is also a great idea for quick energy if you aren’t hungry.
I view this as separate from food. I find the smell of mint very soothing. I got large packages of my favorite Life Saver mints. I knew if someone’s breath offended me I could make them eat one. I also knew that I might want the quick bit of sugar. I was so thankful for these after I vomited. I popped one in my mouth and it freshened my own breath and calmed my nausea. (This was also something my son could do to support me in labor. I’d ask for a mint and he’d hand one to me. He felt very helpful.)
9. Ambient items
Music. Focal point images. Candles. Aromatherapy. You name it, you can have it at your home birth. It’s one of the many perks.
10. Party supplies
One way we incorporated my son in the birth was to have him prepare cupcakes with his grandfather. It was a great activity for him. It filled the house with nice smells. He got to blow out the zero-shaped candle for his new baby sister. And this was another great snack for after my hard work. I loved viewing this special time as a celebration. You can have fun with this one. Get champagne and balloons and wrapped presents for older siblings.
The beauty of a home birth is that you can customize and include anything you want within reason. Enjoy gathering your supplies and building your little nest.
Did I miss anything you found helpful for your own home birth?
Olivia Hinebaugh is a stay-at-home-mom to a three-year-old boy and baby girl. She is an aspiring novelist and steals time whenever both kids are sleeping to clack away at the keys. She tweets about mothering and writing @OliveJuiceLots
She can also be found on Facebook.
Photographs (with the exception of the one of me laboring) taken by Lauren Preti