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What You Really Need for a Home Birth

By Marta Block

Choosing where and with whom to birth are some of the most important decisions an expectant mother can make. Choices range from a hospital with an ob-gyn to a standalone birthing center with doctors or midwives to home. For both of my children, I chose the latter, with a licensed midwife to support my partner and me.

Once the decision was made to stay at home, preparations began to make sure our environment was ready to support the birthing team through labor, delivery and for the first few hours of baby’s life. Our midwives made this process easy by providing us with a list of the items we needed to gather ourselves. (We got it early in the pregnancy, so we had several months to collect everything.) Some pieces we needed to purchase, while others were simple household items.

I chose to use a birthing tub—the largest prop that we needed—during both labors. With my son, who was born in November 2009, it helped me through an intense, long labor. My daughter’s entry, in February 2014, was vastly different (and a full 19 hours shorter); I was in the birthing tub for the last hour of labor and was able to deliver her there, too. Midwives and doulas are good resources for locating a tub. We rented one from a local doula and birth educator for our first birth, and our midwives brought their own for our second. (Many soft-sided tubs have their own liner and an additional disposable liner is used for each birth.)

All in all, preparation was key. I considered the process of gathering our items similar to that of preparing a bag to go to the hospital. It was a fairly easy process and made everything move smoothly during labor and delivery and in the following days.

Here is a list of the products that worked for us. We collected all of our materials in a storage tub so they were ready and waiting when the big day arrived.

Medical Supplies

Our midwives provided the majority of our medical supplies, including gauze, Chux pads (for the bed, the couch, chairs—anywhere that might get wet or dirty) and clamps for the umbilical cord. We bought:

  • Isopropyl rubbing alcohol (For the umbilical cord.)
  • Hydrogen peroxide (For general laundry cleaning.)
  • Povidone-iodine (For post-delivery use in a perineal irrigation bottle for mama.)
  • A new digital thermometer
  • Cotton swabs
Home and Personal Items
  • A clean set of sheets (Midwives are great and will make your bed for you before they leave.)
  • A new garden hose (For filling the birthing tub.)
  • Towels (To use when getting out of the birthing tub.)
  • A roll of paper towels
  • Various zip-top bags and plastic garbage bags for cleanup
  • A heating pad (To keep receiving blankets warm.)
  • Maxi pads in various absorbencies
  • A bowl or a container for the placenta
  • Fresh ginger and raw honey for a warming post-birth drink (Add peeled, sliced ginger to a pot of water and bring to a boil. Simmer until the desired strength is reached. Remove from heat and add honey to taste. It is delicious, and there’s something about warming drinks and foods that are supposed to be very healing post baby.)
For Baby
  • Lots of receiving blankets
  • Baby hats
  • Larger blankets for swaddling and cuddling
  • Clothing
  • Diapers (disposable or cloth)
  • Baby wipes
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