Home birth doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, it can actually be wonderful. It just takes a little preparation... Read on to learn 100 ways to prepare for home birth!
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Home birth has become somewhat of a lost ‘art’. While it is rapidly regaining popularity, many women who choose to birth at home are the first of their families or friends to experience it. (Like me!)
Like breastfeeding, birthing techniques are ideally ‘learned’ before you attempt it for yourself, by attending others’ births, and by growing up seeing, knowing, and observing the culture of birth first hand.
Unfortunately, not many women in the United States today are blessed with the natural education that comes from watching their mother or sisters birth naturally.
Birth needs to be normalized, de-mystified, and most importantly, un-scary-ified. (Is there a word for that?!)
As of writing this I have successfully delivered two babies outside of the hospital, and while I certainly still have lots to learn, (practice makes perfect, even in birth!) I have learned tons already.
If you are reading this, I want you to know that odds are in your favor that YOU TOO can have a successful home birth. It will take preparation, but it is SO worth it! It is attainable!
Note: not everything that works for one woman will work for another, so these tips are meant as a starting point, add and revise as necessary!
Learn all about Birth
- Listen to a birth podcast
- Read a natural birthing book (or 2!)
- Sign up for a birth class
- Watch “home birth success stories” on YouTube
- Read about other moms’ experiences on an online forum
- Learn about the history of western birth practices
- Research how birth is handled around the world
- Watch a homebirth documentary
- Read about standard hospital birth practices/tests, and their alternatives/options
Take Time To Introspect
- Ponder and write down why you want a home birth, what does it mean to you?
- Write down 5 of your fears, then write down their solutions
- Create a birth plan or wish list
- Write your baby a letter, include things like how excited you are to meet them
- Ask your grandmother about her birth experiences
- Start a journal or scrapbook to document what you feel, think, and learn through pregnancy and beyond
- Write a poem about your feelings regarding motherhood
- Think about your “Plan B” should hospital transfer (before or during labor) be necessary
- Write down 5 or more affirmations to read before and during labor
Prepare Spiritually For Home Birth
- Listen to inspiring music and create a labor/birth playlist
- Connect with your baby, close your eyes, place your hands on your stomach, and think about your baby.
- Read scripture verses about Mothers and Motherhood
- Re-read the story of the birth of the Savior
- Pray for strength, courage, and advice
- Search for scripture verses about comfort
- Sing a lullaby to your baby, talk to her
- Ask a religious leader for a blessing or prayer
- Write down 10 things you are grateful for, your health, your fertility, etc.
- Find Bible verses about “laboring” or “travailing”
Prepare Your Body For Unmedicated Birth
- Try Prenatal Yoga
- Nourish yourself and your baby with healthy foods
- Try doing squats to strengthen and open your pelvis
- Ask your birth provider about drinking a pregnancy tea, such a Red Raspberry leaf (this is a brand I use)
- Keep Coconut water on hand to drink during labor, it is high in electrolytes
- Make an effort to get enough sleep
- Prepare some freezer meals to eat once baby arrives
- Plan snacks to eat during labor
- Try prenatal chiropractic care or massages
- Try “Spinning Babies” to get baby into position
Prepare Your Birth Team
- Find a great Home Birth Practitioner
- Consider hiring a Doula
- Decide who you want present at the birth
- Will you want photos taken? Who will take them?
- If you have other children, will they attend the birth? Where will they be?
- Determine if your pets will get in the way, or if they need special care during the birth
- Figure out who will clean up immediately after the birth (Some midwives don’t)
- Find your Postpartum helper
- Keep important phone numbers handy for your husband, perhaps on your fridge
- Ask your midwife about her personal birth stories
- Consider finding a backup/supporting doctor, in case of transfer
- Determine who will check baby in the weeks and months after the birth (some midwives do for 6 weeks, some do for the first year, etc.) Will you need a pediatrician right away?
Research Labor Pain Management Techniques
(note: I’ve written a whole HUGE post on this topic!)
- Read about how other women have experienced and handled discomfort during labor
- Learn the stages of labor so you know what to expect
- Consider Water Birth as a comfort technique
- Practice different birthing positions with your husband or doula
- Consider “Mental Pain” management techniques such as positive thinking, logical thinking, meditation, and mantras. Don’t get discouraged!
- Learn about different breathing techniques
- Read about “breathing out your baby”, practice relaxing your sphincters
- Ponder the concept of “Pain with a Purpose”
- Prepare a rice sock or heating pad for aches
Prepare Your Birthing Location
- Decide where in your house you will birth, and be prepared for last minute changes
- Think about how you want the atmosphere to be. Dim lights? Music? Warm temperature?
- Make sure there is a way to cover your windows if you don’t already have blinds or curtains
- For winter births, keep the walks shoveled just in case
- Determine where you and the baby will sleep once s/he is born
- Keep the house reasonably tidy in the weeks surrounding your due date
- Hang your affirmations on the wall (the earlier the better!)
- Having a Water Birth? Will you need to rent a tub? Where will you put it? How will you fill it?
- Consider hanging a sign or note on the front door to deter unwanted visitors
- Consider if your bathroom is easily accessible (do you have to go up or down stairs? You can always bring a bedpan closer to you, or find a birth stool to labor on
Gather Birthing Supplies
- Make a few “padsicles”
- Have some blankets (that you don’t mind getting a little dirty) on hand to keep the baby warm
- Have a hair elastic or headband nearby to get your hair out of your face
- Decide what you will wear, or not wear, while you are birthing
- If renting a birth tub, make sure you have all the parts: pump, liner, hose to fill it (connects to kitchen faucet), fish net, etc.
- Get some cheap undies to wear for the first few postpartum days
- Choose clothes that will be easy to breastfeed in and easy to remove for potty breaks, for the hours immediately following the birth.
- Prepare something to keep your attendants or yourself busy with, if necessary (useful for long labors)
Improve Your Relationship With Your Husband
- Discuss any specific needs or wants with your husband
- Tell your husband that you are grateful that he wants to be a part of this experience with you
- Discuss how you will work together during labor, and during parenting
- Invite him to attend a birth class with you
- Take a ‘Babymoon’ vacation together
- Ask him to write you a love note
- Discuss each of your worries/expectations/thoughts about postpartum intercourse (ask your midwife about it too)
- Ask if he has any fears or questions about the birth
- Invite him to read a ‘Fathers” birthing resource, if he wants
- Allow your husband to prepare in the ways that he needs
Prepare Your Family And Friends
- Share your decision with your family at the right time for you– be prepared for their response
- Consider allowing your mother (should she have questions) to meet your midwife
- Consider how you will respond to those who are not supportive of your decisions
- Realize and accept that others may have differing opinions– that’s okay!
- Consider informing your neighbors about your birth, or not! (Are they close enough that extra cars/sounds may bother them? Does that matter to you?)
- If you have friends who have birthed at home, ask them to share their story with you
- Don’t be afraid to ask someone for help, or to be ‘on call’ for you.
- Help your other children prepare for your labor, sounds, people, body, blood, etc
Miscellaneous Ways to Prepare For Home Birth
- Decide if you will receive ultrasounds or not
- Discuss with your midwife her policy on going past your due date
- Discuss with your midwife her hospital transfer plan
- Figure out if your insurance covers home births or midwives.
- Keep positive and tell yourself, YOU WERE MADE FOR THIS!
Whew! Well that’s the list. I hope that as you prepare for home birth these ideas will be helpful to you! These are some of the things that really prepared me for the home birth of my first child, which was a great success. You can do this.
What do you most want to know about home birth?