Sort the kit to help you have a great birth at home
Choosing to give birth at home means you’ll be in a familiar setting that can make for a more comfortable and less clinical environment. But what do you need to prepare for a home birth? Jane Munro from the Royal College of Midwives suggests the key items to help you have a good birth experience.
1 The phone numbers of your midwives
Keep in contact with them, letting them know when you think you’ve gone into labour and when you think your midwife may need to come round.
2 Phone numbers for childcare
If you’ve already got young children, make sure you’ve organised for someone to look after them as you don’t want to have to worry about what your toddler is up to when you’re in the middle of a contraction. Plus, your toddler may get upset seeing you in pain. But if you do want your children to be around during the birth, make sure there is someone there to supervise them.
3 Music, essential oils and pillows
Creating a soothing environment can keep you calm while you’re labouring. Cushions or pillows will provide somewhere for you to lean on or against, you can burn essential oils to create a relaxing atmosphere, and don’t forget to create a labour playlist with songs that can keep you positive and motivated.
4 Protective coverings
Get some plastic sheeting to cover your floor, furniture and the bed. Although labour isn’t that messy, it’s safer to have everywhere covered so you can give birth wherever is comfiest.
5 Towels, blankets and flannels
Lay old towels and blankets over the top of the plastic sheeting so it’s soft and comfortable to lie and kneel on. The flannels can be dampened and draped across your forehead to act as a cooling compress during labour.
6 Drinks and snacks
Keep your energy levels up by having plenty of food and drink available – and not just for you. Handy snacks that your birth partner can also share will help keep both of you going.
7 Sanitary pads
After you give birth, you’ll continue to bleed heavily for the first few days – this is known as lochia. Make sure you get proper post-birth maternity pads as they tend to be longer and softer. You may need to change the pads every few hours.
8 Pain relief
Giving birth at home means your choice of pain relief is limited to paracetamol, TENS machine a birthing pool (if you’ve organised for one) and gas and air (Entonox) if your midwife has brought a canister of it with her. You could also use a hot water bottle to ease lower back pain.
10 Birth pool
While not essential, if you want a home water birth, you’ll need to hire a birthing pool. Make sure you do a trial run so you know how long it takes to fill up and how to get it to the right temperature. You need to keep the temperature of the water at or below 37ºC at all times (35-37º is optimum during the first stage of labour and 37-37.5º during the second).
11 Hospital bag
Pack a bag just in case you need to transfer to hospital. It should contain - among other things - sanitary pads, a change of clothes, baby clothes and nappies.
12 Tea and biscuits for the midwives
Have some refreshments ready for your midwives as they could be with you for a while. With any luck, they’ll make you a cup of tea after the birth while you cuddle your baby in bed.
What were your home birth essentials? Let us know in the comment box below.