Home Birth 101: What You Need & How to Make It Work for You


Considering a home birth? If your midwife has given you the go-ahead, perhaps the next thing to consider is: what does it take to make a home birth work? I asked doula and active birth instructor, Nikola-Jane Barile, for the insider’s list of essentials for birthing in the (relative) comfort of your own home.

What do midwives supply?

Your midwife will normally bring a home-birth kit to your home toward the end of your pregnancy, containing items which she might use. Ask her what is provided, and if there is anything else that she would like you to have ready. Some midwives suggest preparing a “birth box” with items you’ll need.

Is it messy?

Most home births produce little mess, which is easily cleaned. Midwives bring large disposable pads to protect the surfaces you give birth on, and floors or beds can be covered with waterproof sheeting, a large waterproof tablecloth, or old sheets. After the birth, the midwives will clear up and remove the placenta and cord—unless you request otherwise.

TOP TIP: If your protective coverings do not catch all the mess, blot as soon as possible and wash with biological detergent, using cold water so that the stain does not set. Bloodstains on carpets can often be removed using hydrogen peroxide from any pharmacy, after testing for colour-fastness.

What will I need?

  1. The phone numbers of your midwife team.
  2. Protective coverings for floor, furniture, and your bed: plastic or rubber sheeting (a clean shower curtain could work), waterproof tablecloth, and large disposable pads.
  3. Something to keep you and your baby warm after the birth: large towel to wrap mum and baby up in cosily together, newborn nappy, hat, or light blanket. Towels can be placed on a radiator to warm them up. If you are using a water-birth pool, lots of towels are handy as you may be in and out of the water a lot.
  4. Maternity pads, several pairs of knickers, flannels, and hair ties for before and after!
  5. Anything that will help create a calm atmosphere for you: music, soft lights, massage oil. You might like to have a mirror to hand if you think seeing the baby’s head crown would be nice or helpful.
  6. Hot water bottle or hot pack for aches and pains, and something to be sick in just in case the need arises.
  7. Birthing ball or exercise ball if desired, as well as any hired equipment you would like—you can even rent or buy a birthing pool, as long as someone else is charged with filling it while you labour!
  8. Tea or coffee and biscuits for the midwives (leave them out so they can help themselves), plus drinks and nutritious snacks for you and your birth supporters.
  9. You will also need to pack a hospital bag just like everyone else, just in case you do need to be transferred.

image:  Credit / Frank Herholdt

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