When it comes to having your baby, there are often options on where you can give birth. If you decide to go the home birth route, what essentials do you need to prepare for yourself and your baby?
Giving birth is one of the most exciting and personal experiences in life. However, for many reasons, it can often take place in an impersonal setting — a hospital room.
But, for some women and birthing people, home birth might be another option.
Want something in between a home birth and a hospital birth? A birthing center might be your speed. Learn more about birthing centers vs. hospitals.
This option honors how many have given birth throughout history. Some give birth in water to let nature ease the passage and provide healing and cleansing powers as their baby gently segues to waking life.
Others prefer a squat or use their bed. You can personalize your experience, making it memorable and setting a scene that doesn’t involve harsh, fluorescent lighting or mysterious codes echoing over intercom systems.
However, preparation is critical to the optimal experience. Below we’re outlining home birth essentials you need to set up for your big day, however you choose to personalize it.
Home birth essentials list: the basics
Your home birth will go easier when you have the right tools. First, you must overcome mental roadblocks that could make the process harder.
1. Mindset: an essential for a successful home birth
Your biggest question is probably, “Is a home birth safe?”
The answer is, when done right, it can be.
For example, many women who plan home births use a midwife. A certified nurse midwife can also practice in private residences and contract with hospitals. If something goes wrong, they can notify emergency services immediately and transport you to a clinical location if necessary.
Also, do your research. You probably hear a lot about births that go wrong.
However, 80% of pregnancies result in births with no complications, meaning that the odds are in your favor that your home birth will go off without a hitch.
Of course, it’s essential to consult your care team to discuss if home birth is an option for your unique pregnancy journey.
2. The goods: what you need to have on hand for a home birth
Of course, you need the right supplies. Here’s a handy list of home birth essentials to stock up on before your third trimester:
- Empowering pregnancy and birth affirmations
- Multiple pillows and blankets: You’ll need at least two pillows — but the more, the better for ultimate comfort.
- A plastic sheet protector
- Comfortable clothing options: having a comfortable birthing gown is a must.
- An insulated water bottle
- Ice cubes or chips
- Light snacks
- A large pack of extra large overnight pads
- An ice pack
- Anti-nausea medication
- Ample washcloths and towels: You can’t have enough to stay clean.
- Fluid replacement drinks: You’ll need to replace lost fluids and electrolytes. Have honey and replacement drinks like Gatorade on hand. The gels or goo packs favored by distance runners may come in handy, too. You can also opt for hydrating electrolyte powders formulated specifically for moms.
- Hot water bottle or heating pad
- Mirror: So you can watch the birth.
- Newborn diapers
- A onesie and a sleeper
- Two newborn hats
- Receiving blanket
- A hospital bag: Packed and ready to go, just in case.
3. The details: what you cannot afford to overlook
Although you hope for the best, you should plan for the worst. Review the emergency plan with your midwife or create one if you’re giving birth unassisted.
Have your emergency signaling devices — typically your cellphone — charged and ready to dial 911 if necessary.
You should also have a post-birth plan. How long will you stay home and nurse your infant? Who is your support team to run and fetch supplies and take turns with diaper changes? Download our free postpartum planning guide.
Having people around you whom you trust — even for emotional support — while your baby is born is critical.
Even knowing exercises you could practice to help your body recover from childbirth increases your peace of mind, lowering your stress levels and improving your chances of a smooth delivery.
But keep in mind that Kegel movements aren’t beneficial for every pelvic floor, so it’s a good idea to consult a pelvic floor physical therapist with any questions.
What do I need for a home water birth?
Some women opt for water births because the buoyancy encourages uterine contractions, resulting in less pain for the mother and more oxygen for the baby.
Additionally, water soothes anxiety, which often contributes to delivery pain and complications. Your baby receives oxygen as long as the placenta remains attached, meaning it won’t drown before taking that first breath of air.
Take the following steps to prepare for a home water birth:
- Choose an experienced attendant: You’ll feel far more comfortable with a midwife familiar with water births.
- Crank the heat: You might be in the tub for a while, and the water will get cold. Adjust the dial on your water heater to produce sufficient warmth.
- Invest in a special pool: While you may use a bathtub, the cramped quarters can get uncomfortable for long labors. You can rent special birthing pools to increase your comfort.
- Use a floating water thermometer: Your water should stay roughly the same temperature as the inside of your womb to ensure the baby’s comfort as they emerge.
- Invest in many towels: It bears repeating — you cannot have enough towels for a home birth.
Should I invest in an unassisted home birth kit?
A quick Google search reveals scores of unassisted home birth kits that promise to ease your experience. Should you invest the money in one?
Investing in a special kit is unnecessary unless you insist on a coordinated, branded experience. You probably already own many recommended supplies, like pillows, blankets, and towels.
Instead, save money for stocking your new baby’s nursery or the endless supply of diapers you will need to buy over the coming months.
Setting up for an unassisted home birth
Giving birth is an intimate, personal experience. The right home birth essentials let you keep it a private event shared only by you, your midwife trusted family members, and your new baby.
Use the tips above to set up for an unassisted home birth, whether opting for water, a squat, or traditional bed delivery. You’ll possibly welcome your new child with a less stressful introduction to this wacky, chaotic, and wonderful world.
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Beth, the Managing Editor and content manager at Body+Mind, is well-respected in the nutrition, parenting, mental health and fitness spaces. In her spare time, Beth enjoys cooking and trying out new exercise routines. Subscribe to Body+Mind for more posts by Beth Rush!