The percentage of women deciding to give birth at home has risen by roughly 50% since the year 2004. More and more women are aligning themselves with the idea of birthing at home as a safer and more comfortable option to hospital births. If you are pregnant and considering giving birth at home, there are a few preparations that need be made.
First of all, assessing the risk factors that may be involved is key to determining if a home birth is right for you. The medical establishment would have women believe that hospital births are safer than home births, though statistics show that birthing in the hospital increases the possibility for interventions significantly and interventions can often lead to unnecessary Cesareans.
If you have your mind and heart set on a home birth, you have likely already read the literature in favor of such a choice and are mentally prepared for the event to take place in the comfort of familiar surroundings. Giving birth is a normal and natural part of life and we have made it out to be a medical emergency by the way we portray it in the media. A small percentage of births require intervention, though with the fear that has been installed in most women regarding the birthing process, the possibility for intervention increases.
Giving birth at home can be a bonding and empowering experience for both the woman and her partner. By taking steps to prepare for that pending moment, the couple can gain further confidence in their ability to approach labor with ease and confidence.
Creating a Birth Plan
Before that blessed event occurs, it is a great idea to create a birth plan, or a list of wishes that you would like honored from the time labor begins til the baby is born. This informs those who would attend the birth, including any midwives or medical professionals that may end up being involved, what the wishes of the couple are for their birthing experience. A list of “do’s” and “don’t’s” such as not wanting medication, leaving the cord attached and limited number of visitors can be items on the birth plan list.
It is also a helpful idea to write up a visualization of the “perfect birth experience” in order to suggest to the mind of all involved how the mother would like the birth to go. Of course it is realized that elements may vary during the actual experience, though having a visualized birth plan often ends up influencing the birth to happen pretty close to the couple’s imaginings. It is amazing, the power of intention in situations such as birthing. Our thoughts really do have an influence on how things play out.
It is a good idea to start gathering supplies and have them in a clean, designated space prior to the time around the birth. This might mean preparing several weeks in advance, since babies can come as early as 5 weeks prior to their estimated due date. Along with home birth supplies, it doesn’t hurt to have some bags packed for the hospital just in case the decision is made that such a move is best. This way the couple doesn’t have to think about packing in the height of labor.
What is needed for a home birth? Here’s is a general list taken from the book Birthing From Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz:
For the Birth Room:
- 2 sets of sheets and pillow cases
- plastic mattress cover or shower curtain
- old blanket (for floor delivery)
- package of disposable underpads (23″x36″)
- garbage bucket and plastic bags
- 3 bath towels
- 6-8 washcloths
- inflatable bath pillow or donut
- tape or video recorder
For the Mother:
- 3-4 quarts juice or sports drink (electrolytes)
- 2 knee-length T-shirts or gowns
- incense/essential oils
- overnight and regular sanitary pads
- Mother’s Milk tea
- 2-3 bags Sitz Bath herbs
- Sitz Bath
- Pain killers (for after)
- heating pad or hot water bottle
- High protein snacks (for after)
- postpartum meal
For the Baby:
- up to 6 receiving blankets
- 1 diaper
- 1 undershirt
- 1 sleeper or like
- 1 pair socks
- 1 hat
For cord care:
- hydrogen peroxide or alcohol
- rosemary, arrowroot or goldenseal
It is also a good idea to have the number for the ambulance as well as the closest hospital nearby, the number for your nurse/midwife and any friends or family who are optional “helpers” for that special day.
As the day gets closer, doing a few practice runs of setting up the space might not be a bad idea, just to feel as though you have a natural flow on the day of the event. Mothers and fathers-to-be need not panic when labor begins, but instead have some sort of creative project to engage in during the early stages of labor, such as preparing the postpartum meal or readying the space, just to keep the mind off the impending later stages of active labor.
Having a baby is a normal and natural thing and has been done by women for all of time. Yes, sometimes problems arise that need to be prepared for, but this is the exception rather than the rule. If you are pregnant and preparing for a home birth, the best thing you can do is be confident, prepared and open to the way your baby wants to be born. It is better to have a plan as well as an “alternative” back-up plan than to be obsessed about things going a certain way. Life will be born as it wants to be and it can be a glorious, transformative experience for all.
For more information, seek out books about home births and talk to midwives who are experienced at such an event. Most of all, practice centering yourself and aligning with the inner truth that you can do this, you were made for it!
Written by: Stasia Bliss