I had my first home birth in 2012, with my youngest son and it was the best birth experience I’d had out of all of my pregnancies. Therefore, when I found out I was expecting again, it was a no-brainer that home birth would be my first choice.
Sadly, the midwife I had used for my last home birth experience was no longer in the area. However, when trying to find a midwife I noticed that there were a lot more options available and home births were becoming more common in my area.
So, today I decided to put together a guide to help others prepare for a successful home birth.
NOTE: This guide won’t cover the pros/cons, risks, deciding if this birth method is right for you, legalities, etc. Instead, it’s just going to get straight to the ‘how to prepare’ portion – assuming that is why you decided to read this blog post.
Let’s get started.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.
The first step to having a successful home birth is to interview midwives.
It can be nice to get recommendations from friends and family, but at the end of the day, you’ll want to do an interview to see if they are a match for you.
Think about it, this person is going to be in your home for a long period of time, interacting with you and your family, AND bringing your bundle of joy into the world. They must be a great match as you’re going to be seeing them a lot over the next nine months AND they are going to be sharing a very intimate moment with you.
I ended up interviewing two midwives. The first one I interviewed was very nice and outgoing, however, she recommended that I interview someone who she had trained AND it turned out that she was a better fit.
Therefore, I ended up going with Coastal Midwifery for this home birth and so far things are going great. Erin has a great personality, she instantly puts you at ease, and she does home appointments right from the start – which is great due to COVID -, AND she even does evening appointments, which makes it so my partner can attend most appointments too.
Questions to Ask Potential Midwives
To make the interview process run as smoothly as possible, I’d highly recommend having a list of questions available beforehand.
Your potential midwife will usually start by giving you some background information on themselves and going into a few details about what to expect (if this is your first home birth) and then leave the floor open to questions. Some good questions to ask potential midwives include:
- What is included in their fee: In my area, home births typically cost $3500 – $4500. However, this doesn’t include ultrasounds and labs.
- What are they qualified to do: For example, are they able to deliver breech babies, can they do sutras if a tear occurs, etc.
- What would be a cause to be transferred to a hospital: For example, would a long labor result in having to go to the hospital.
- What payment methods do they accept: Not all midwives accept insurance. However, some will allow you to set up a payment plan or barter services.
- What is their typical response time: You want to make sure that as your pregnancy progresses you can get quick responses from them in the event of an emergency or your labor starting.
- What is your transfer rate during labor: Ideally, this should be 0, but if it’s not and is very low and everything checks out don’t let the transfer rate deter you from going with your ideal midwife.
These are just a few questions to help get you started. Keep in mind I didn’t mention anything about training, certifications, etc, because typically when they introduce themselves all of this information is covered.
Note: I recommend that you have pen and paper handy to take note of important information and answered questions to make selecting your midwife easier.
Shop For Your Home Birth Supplies in Advance
You’re probably going to end up ordering some, if not all, of your home birth supplies online. With the way the mail can be delayed these days, it’s definitely important to make sure that you shop for all of your home birth supplies in advance.
I personally recommend having all of your supplies ready by 25 weeks. The reason for this is it’s out of the way and you can focus all of your energy on shopping for baby. Plus, it gives you time to double-check everything with your midwife, and in the event that something is missing or needs to be replaced you still have time to get it before the big day arrives.
Supplies Needed for a Successful Home Birth
These supplies are a combination of supplies my midwife requested and some supplies that I found to help my last home birth go smoother.
I’d use them as a starting point to help you when shopping for supplies. However, once you hire a midwife they’ll probably have their own home birth supplies list for you as well.
Supplies For a Water Birth
Water births aren’t for everyone. AND just because you’re having a home birth it doesn’t mean it has to be a water birth.
My goal with my youngest son was to deliver in the water. However, after about 45 minutes in the birthing tub, I had to get out to push as the contractions became too much for me.
This time I’m going to give the water birth another go. I feel as if even if I don’t deliver in the water it may have the same effect as last time, which I felt sped up my labor a bit.
Anyways. Below are the supplies that you’ll need for a water birth. You’ll typically only be responsible for these things and your midwife will have everything else you’ll need including the birthing pool.
- Drinking water safe hose
- Adapter: Make sure to purchase this in advance so you can be sure that it works on your big day.
- Pool Liner
- Medium Size Aquarium Net
- Swim trunks for birthing partner
- Birthing outfit: Last time I wore a bikini top and a swim dress. However, some are okay with wearing nothing at all. Do whatever makes you comfortable – it’s your birth!
General Home Birth Supplies
Your midwife will be supplying all of the medical supplies that you need to have a successful home birth. However, these are some of the things that you’ll need to make sure you have.
- 2-3 plastic shower curtain liners: These will be used to keep your mattress protected.
- Hand Soap
- Hand Towels
- Complete Set of Sheets
- 6 Bath Towels
- 12 Light Colored or White Wash Cloths
- 2-3 Trash bags
- 1 Roll of Paper Towels
- 2 Gallon Ziplock Bags: These will be used for the placenta.
Supplies For Baby
By the time the big day comes you’ve probably already overstocked up on items for baby and even gotten the nursery set up. However, after giving birth you’re going to probably want to relax in bed with limited up and down trips for 24-72 hours. Therefore, it can be good to have the following things already out and ready in the room that you’ll give birth in.
- 2 Onesies
- 2 Sets of Socks
- 2 Baby Gowns/ Simple Outfits
- 1 Baby Hat
- 4 Receiving Blankets
- Car Seat Installed: You want to have it installed just in case you end up having to be transferred to the hospital during birth or if there is a complication with the baby.
- Vit K: You can also get injectable Vit K from your pediatrician if you don’t want to use the oral version that Precious Arrows sells.
Supplies For Mom
While I highly recommend creating a New Mom Care Caddy before the big day, if you don’t want to do all of that here are some essential supplies that you’ll definitely want to make sure you have available before, during, and after giving birth.
- Good Nursing Bra
- Heavy Flow Pads
- Healthy Food Snacks: Go for things such as yogurt and fruit. While you are allowed to eat since you’re at home I’d avoid going for heavy meals during labor.
- Drinks: Go for hydrating drinks such as Gatorade, flavored water, etc. I’d recommend avoiding soda and coffee.
- After delivery outfit: You’ll definitely want to have a nice, comfortable outfit handy once you deliver. This is especially true if you end up having a water birth.
Let me point out that these supplies are absolutely not necessary. However, after my last home birth experience, I found these items to be extremely helpful to have on hand.
- Storage Basket: Since you should be ordering your home birth supplies in advance it’s a good idea to have a storage basket to keep everything tidy in your closet until the big day.
- Dermaplast: This is something they actually used to give out during hospital births. I did find it helpful during my hospital stays (not sure if they still use this).
- Post Partum Recovery Essentials Kit: This kit includes things such as disposable mesh panties and ice packs. The ice packs were what convinced me to purchase them. Everything else is just extra lol.
- Mesh Panties
- Perri Bottle: Great for keeping things fresh and clean down below during the first few days. Plus, it’s a must-have if you do experience any tearing.
- T- Tree Oil: My last midwife told me about putting t tree oil in the Perri bottle for relief. It worked great so I’m definitely going to be using that hack again this time.
- Birthing ball
- Lactation bars
Mentally Prepare Yourself
Now that you’ve hired your midwife and gotten all of your home birth supplies, it’s important that you start mentally preparing yourself for home birth – especially if this is your first one.
You need to spend time determining what your birth plan will look like AND how you’re going to be able to handle a natural birth.
Keep in mind that you’re not going to have any pain meds issued during your home birth and you’ll also want to make sure you have a plan set in advance for pets and any other children as your birth experience should be stress-free and your only focus during labor should be getting your baby into the world safely.
Physically Prepare Yourself
In addition to mentally preparing yourself for a home birth, it’s also important to physically prepare as well.
You’ll want to make sure that you stay active within your pregnancy and eat healthy to make labor and recovery easier.
However, when being active physically I’d never recommend starting a new exercise routine and if you are unsure about any of the exercises you’re planning to do always check with your midwife first to make sure that it’s okay.
Lastly, make sure you listen to your body and don’t overdo it during your pregnancy.
Prepare Your Home
Since you’re giving birth at home and not in a hospital, all of the comforts and tidiness fall upon you.
When preparing your home for your home birth keep the following things in mind:
- Your birthing room should be clean: This means there shouldn’t be any clutter that someone could trip over. Also, things should be tidy so it gives you a calm and peaceful environment. Now, I’m not saying that you need to rush and do all of your laundry in between contractions, but it’ll be helpful to not have a heap of clothing just sitting in the middle of the room.
- Have a nice temperature in the room: You want it to be just the right temperature for both you and baby.
- Have a clear space for your midwife: Make sure a dresser or table is completely free for your midwife and all of her supplies. Keep in mind that she’ll need space for her laptop and medical supplies.
- Have postpartum items in the bathroom: Ideally, once you have all of your postpartum items go ahead and put them under your bathroom sink or in a cabinet in a storage basket so when the big day comes they can easily be located and added to a more accessible spot.
- Have hand soap, hand towels, and other toiletries in the bathrooms: Your midwife, her assistant, and birthing partner will need to wash their hands frequently AND of course everyone will need to go to the restroom, so make it easy for them by having all of your bathrooms stocked with the essentials. If you’re someone who always tends to run out of hand soap or toilet paper at the wrong times purchase some a few weeks in advance and keep it with your home birth supplies in your closet so when labor starts you can easily add it to the bathrooms to make sure it doesn’t run out.
- Have a comfortable place for your midwife and her assistant to relax: All births are different. Some go quick and others go slowly. However, unlike at the hospital, once labor starts and your midwife arrives she’s not going to keep coming back and forth – she’s there until the baby comes. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that she and her assistant have somewhere comfortable to relax during the slower parts of labor.
- Make sure that kids and pets have everything they need in their area: It’s normal for younger kids to wonder what’s going on with mom and be eager to meet their new sibling. However, this is not the time to be a super mom and cater to everyone else’s needs. Before the big day let the person who will be in charge of the kids know where everything is that they’ll need, the areas of the house they need to stay in, AND let the kids know that they will have to address all concerns with the person in charge that day in advance so there are no interruptions.
TIP: It can be a good idea to have your home, birth ready two weeks in advance before your due date, and just keep it tidy just in case the baby decides to make their entrance early.
What to Wear During Your Home Birth
As I briefly mentioned earlier, it’s your birth and your home, so you can wear (or not wear) whatever makes you feel comfortable.
For me, the last time I went with a bikini top and a swim dress. This time around I’ll probably do a nursing bra and dress.
The reason I go with a bra-like top and dress is the dress makes it so I can roam around the house before getting in the birthing pool and easily go for pee breaks. The bra-like top allows me to stay covered during the birth somewhat while also being comfortable.
But, at the end of the day, all that matters is that you’re wearing something that’s comfortable for you.
What to Expect After Your Home Birth
After giving birth the midwife cleans the baby up, measures them, and makes sure that everything is okay.
I think last time the midwife and her assistant ended up staying about 3-4 hours after I had given birth. This included them draining the pool, tidying up, and making sure that baby and I were bonding well.
Then, after she did another house visit about 3 weeks later to check the baby, was very accessible by phone (I remember having a scare where he still wasn’t opening his eyes for almost 24 hours – perfectly normal by the way), and did another six week home visit for me and baby.
You Can Have a Successful Home Birth
If you’re considering having a home birth and there are no medical reasons that you shouldn’t, I’d say go for it. You can have a successful home birth with a midwife that is a good fit for you and by making sure that you’re prepared.
I hope that this article has provided you with some useful home birth preparation tips.
Make sure to tell me about your birth experience in the comments section below.