Preparation for a homebirth
Check with your midwife or caregiver, they may wish you to leave out or add things to this list.
Personal items for woman and partner
- A couple of comfortable shirts / nighties / dresses to labour in.
- Lots of clean towels, face flannels.
- Some clean old sheets and a large piece of plastic to possibly give birth on.
- 2- 3 large garbage bags to put soiled linen into.
- A large mirror if you wish to watch yourself give birth.
- At least 2 packs of large maternity sanitary napkins or
- A pack of large ‘incontinence’ pants or pads which are comfortable and practical when bleeding heavily for the first few days.
- Lots of cotton under wear if you choose to wear pads / or disposable undies.
- Breast pads for when your milk comes in on days 2- 4 after the birth / maternity bras.
- Lip balm for dry lips.
- A box of tissues, a roll of very soft, luxurious toilet paper.
- A fan or heater to keep the room you labour in comfortable, depending on the season.
- Buckets to empty the bath and to top up with warm water (if it does not have a heater).
- Bucket to be kept handy for that unpredictable vomit!
- Poo scoop for a water birth (sieve).
Have all the ‘Birth Equipment” in one place in the house so your midwife and support team don’t have to search for things when needed.
Items for the baby
- Baby blankets (if due in winter it is helpful if the blankets are made warm in some way).
- Clothes to dress the baby in.
- Nappies (at least 2 dozen pre-washed cloth or 60 to 70 disposable- 1 weeks worth!)
- A couple of packets of cotton balls to clean baby’s bottom (usually with plain warm water).
Items for siblings
To keep brothers and sisters of the new baby happy while they are waiting for the ‘main event’ it may be important to have an extra support person with whom the child / children feel comfortable. They can meet their needs while you are labouring and entertain them during the hours they may have to wait.
Set up a room especially for the other child / children. Organise their own play area, or TV and video, so they have somewhere to go to if they need some space from you and the labour. Have a cake mix handy so siblings can bake their new brother or sister a birthday cake, don’t forget the candle.
You may wish to purchase some ‘presents’ to be given to siblings after the birth ‘from the baby’.
Drinks and snacks
Labouring women should eat as they wish, and if in early labour or prelabour it is a good idea to have a light meal before your appetite wanes. Once you are in strong labour you probably wont be able to tolerate anything but fluids and ice, it is not unusual to feel nauseated and even vomit a couple of times, especially if dehydrated.
Have things available that you like that will keep you energised and well hydrated eg. apple, pear or other non-citrus juices, mineral water.
Fruit such as bananas, mangoes, peaches, pears, strawberries etc. Barley sugar or other sweets to suck on. Plenty of ice blocks in the freezer, clear soups and yoghurt. Keep some labour food separate, so if you are due to shop when you go into labour you still have things available.
Support people also need to eat and drink and stay energised while they are supporting the labouring woman for an indefinite amount of hours. Have food that can be eaten easily, without extensive preparation or can be heated up quickly in the microwave and eaten “on the run” – or in between contractions at least!
Frozen food packages are also handy for the days after the birth when you don’t want to cook.
Massage and support tools
- Special music to listen to.
- Candles and holders, matches / lighter.
- Massage oil.
- Massage implements.
- Cooling gel (for massage).
- Evian spray or garden sprayer to spray water on your face.
Ask your midwife, you may wish to hire one or purchase a kids inflatable pool from a toy store. If you are lucky enough to have a large bath or spa this may not be needed.
Large amounts of hot water may be needed for heat packs, baths and showers when labouring. The electricity company may be able to temporarily turn your ‘off-peak’ system to ‘on-peak’ for the month you are due. You may wish to hire some water urns or hire a water heater for the birth pool.
- Wheat bag
- Ice pack
Other helpful items
- Camera or video recorder
- Spare batteries
- Birthday cake
- Massage oils
- Essential oils and Aromatherapy burners.
- Bach Flower Remedies.
When planning a homebirth, it may be beneficial to organise ‘extra helpers’. For some people this may be an acupuncturist, masseur, herbalist, homoeopath or naturopath. For others it may be other support people on ‘standby’ if the labour is long. It is important that the new mother is given complete rest for the first few days. Organising meals and care for any siblings is helpful. You could consider asking visitors to bring food, rather than flowers, and possibly friends or relatives to come and take a load of washing!
In case of transfer
While not expected, it is always possible that you may need to transfer into hospital. To make this transition as smooth as possible, it is important to consider some arrangements and be prepared.
These can include:
- Having a bag packed for hospital. Including toiletries, things to wear in hospital a set of clothes to take the baby home in. Think about taking some of the things listed previously if it is not an emergency situation and you think you may be in the hospital labouring for a few hours.
- Have money for parking, a baby capsule fitted (or in the boot) and petrol in the car. Does everyone know how to get to the hospital? Photocopy a map. Who will lock up the house? What will happen with siblings? Do you need to tie up the dog? Feed the cat?
- Have a list of phone numbers beside the phone clearly written or typed. Include your midwife’s numbers and any other support people’s.
- Emergency ambulance number: 111
Have the phone numbers for the hospital. Write out your full address, and the nearest crossroad on the list, in case an ambulance is called. Your support people, or your midwife, may not know the address (let alone the cross road) off the top of their heads. Note any unusual access tips for your property to help the ambulance get to you. Give them your mobile number in case.