Once we knew that we wanted to have a home birth I went about figuring out what we would need. I’ll write a separate post about how I planned for labour and birth generally, but here are a few pointers on what we needed for our home birth.
Do you want a pool?
It’s by no means a necessity but it is something many people choosing to stay home opt for. We did and soon discovered that we had a couple of choices: buy or rent. The rental is a pretty good deal – you get the pool and all the gubbins for around £90 and can keep it for up to 5 weeks. To buy new ranges between £110 – £200 for most of the inflatable pools on the market, depending on what extras (like pumps, liners etc) you get with it. Or of course you can buy second hand – there are many birthing pools being sold on eBay, or through Facebook sales groups. While that might sound gross, it’s not really as you just buy a new liner to place in the pool before you use it. In the end we went for a new pool kit which was on offer. It was only about £20-30 more than hiring and we could either keep it after or sell it on and get most of our money back. Once you have your pool it’s a good idea to have a practice inflating it so you know where it will fit. My midwife wanted to see it inflated in our house so she could check there was enough room for her to get around it. I’d also suggest having a practice with the hose – you don’t need to fill the whole thing, but check that you & your partner know how you will fill it once the time comes.
- Absorbent pads – you don’t know where you might end up so it’s good to have plenty of these to hand for breaking waters etc! It’s likely the midwife will bring some in their box of supplies, but there’s no reason you can’t buy some too. If you have any left over after the birth you can let your baby have some nappy free time on them!
- Towels, towels, towels – you can’t have too many! One tip though, I bought a pack of cheap bath towels and had them on standby; as they were new I didn’t think I’d need to wash them. When they were draped over Luna and me after she was born we both got completely covered in purple fluff! A spin in the machine before hand will stop you and your baby turning into the cookie monster!
- A bucket or washing up bowl – you might well be sick during labour or good for catching the placenta – I used it for both!
- Dressing gown – I got myself a very cheap, second hand dressing gown which I gave a good wash and added to my HB supplies basket. I didn’t want my best, super-soft dressing gown to get mucky, having an older one meant I wasn’t worried about getting it dirty. It was wrapped around me as I got out the pool.
- Waterproofing – we bought some £2 shower curtains from Tescos to pop over the sofa which did the trick perfectly. You really don’t need to fuss with much more than that.
- Birth ball – towards the end of my pregnancy leaning over my birth ball was the only way I could get truly comfortable. When I finally realised I was in labour I went to this position leaning over my ball to help me stay relaxed and help the baby get moving!
- TENS machine – you can buy or hire these, which are shown to help with pain. We hired one, it was around £25 for 7 weeks. It’s hard to say whether it helped or not, as I have never laboured without one so I have nothing to compare it to! It gave me something to focus on during contractions though, and I think I would use one again.
- Essential oils – there are some oils recommended for labour. I used clary sage and lavender. Clary sage is said to help strengthen contractions and lavender is known for it’s calming properties. I had some drops of both these oils on a tissue to sniff. It may or may not be a coincidence that as soon as I started to inhale them my waters broke! You could also add to a carrier oil to make a massage oil your partner could use on you during labour if you feel like it.
- Fairy lights/candles – create the atmosphere that will make you feel calm and safe. Darker is often more calming during labour and birth, and gentler on the newborn when they emerge from the darkness of the womb. We had the main lights off and just used the fairy lights and a few candles. A lamp would do the same thing – whatever works for you.
- Drinking straws – you might be in a position where it’s easier for someone to hold up a glass with a straw to you.
- Affirmations – many people choose to have some positive birth affirmations around them as they labour at home. You can create your own or download and print some like these free ones. In the end I found some beautiful birth mandala artwork which inspired me – I made some birth-bunting with them and also had the birthing affirmations Alex and I had written stuck up on the fireplace!
- Music – You may or may not wish to have music during your labour, it’s worth giving it some thought and having a pile of CDs, or a playlist ready should you want it. When it came to it I just had yoga music from YouTube streamed through the TV on loop! It was perfect and kept everything feeling nice and chilled. Let your partner know that they are the DJ and should be ready to put whatever you fancy on when the mood takes you!
- Food/Drink – One of the benefits of having a home birth is that your kitchen is right there and you don’t have to rely on a hospital vending machine! As it turned out food was the furthest thing from my mind during labour, and I only just managed a couple of slurps of Sprite – but I did have a fridge well stocked for every eventuality, and a big bag of ice in the freezer (many women like to suck on an ice cube during labour.) Don’t forget to have plenty of tea & biscuits for the midwives too!
- A birth basket – A few weeks before our due date we bought a big washing basket to store all the bits and bobs we were gathering for the birth. When the day came we just grabbed the basket and everything we needed was right there. (With the enormous piles of laundry we’ve been doing since it’s also come in very useful!)
Have I missed anything? If you’ve had a home birth feel free to add in the comments below any other essentials you had.