The nicest thing about a homebirth is it’s like Burger King, you get to have it your way. Do you like candles? You can have that. Do you like fairy/Christmas lights? You can have those all over the place. Flowers, pets, kids, stuffed animals, pictures, yoga swing – it’s your home and your birth, so go crazy.
Gathering supplies for a homebirth is like growing a baby. It may seem a little daunting, but you don’t have to do it all in one day, and there is a lot of help out there.
First off, your regular baby supplies:
- Diapers - If you are using cloth, I suggest you get a pack of disposable newborn diapers just until the meconium is gone. That stuff is thick as tar and stains.
- A Pack-and-Play or Bassinet
- Tiny shirts or kimonos - Onesies can be a little chafing on the cord and those shirts with the little hand covers to protect the baby from scratching himself are freakin’ adorable!
- A good nursing pillow, like My Breast Friend
- A Car Seat – Which is mandatory in most states. Here is a page that can direct you to free or reduced cost seats, if you are having trouble paying for one. http://csftl.org/resources-for-free-and-reduced-price-seats/
- Etc., etc. - You can get as little or as much as you want. We were poor as church mice when our first daughter was born. Consignment shops and second-hand stores are full of new and gently used baby clothes and equipment. However, it’s best to get your car seat new.
- Plastic mattress cover - This can be a waterproof mattress cover, old shower curtain, or other large sheet of plastic. You may need to duct tape the edges of the plastic so it doesn’t slide around. Check the Dollar Store.
- 2 sets of old sheets or ones that you don’t mind getting bloody
- Several large bath-size towels and smaller hand towels and wash cloths (at least 4) that you don’t mind getting bloody.
- At least 4 cotton receiving blankets - Wash them first
- 2 pillows you don't mind tossing – Bed, Bath, and Beyond, or Tuesday Morning usually has some low cost ones.
- 2 large plastic garbage bags (no holes) for laundry and garbage.
- A table or a cleared dresser to place supplies
- Hydrogen Peroxide to take out stains. Oxyclean works well too.
- 1 large heating pad - To heat baby blankets and keep baby warm.
- Portable electric heater - To heat the room quickly when birth is approaching or an easily adjustable thermostat. Warm babies are happy babies!
- A Crock pot for warm perineal clothes – they make that last bit of birth a lot easier.
- Snacks – easy to digest and tasty for you, and your helpers. Juice, Gatorade or Labor-aid are wonderful for hydration. You can always half them with water.
Sometimes a midwife will ask you to order a birth kit with some standard supplies. Places like Cascade Health, In His Hands, or Precious Arrows have these. Depending on what your midwife carries or thinks is important, a kit may include:
- Chux Underpads
- Sanitary Pads, Package of 14
- Perineal Irrigation Bottle (for cleaning and diluting pee after birth)
- Sterile Gauze and alcohol Prep Pads
- Baby hat
- Cord Clamps
Water isn’t called the midwife’s epidural for nothing. You can use the shower, or tub, and the good news, you and your baby are used to the germs in your own home, so really just a good wipe down with a natural cleanser or vinegar should do the trick. If you are ordering a birth tub, have it delivered by at least 36 weeks so you can get a dry run setting it up. You don’t know how many people find holes. Not something you want to find on the big day. You may need to order a liner, especially if you are renting a tub. If you buy a tub, it will be yours to keep, and the best kiddie pool ever, or you can donate it back to Waterbirth International who will give it to a birth team in a developing country. You will also need:
- An adapter to hook up the hose to the faucet
- A pump to get rid of the water
- A little fish net to fish stuff out of the water.
Now for Postpartum:
- Pads and Underwear - You may find that a pack of Depends disposable underwear combined with a super Overnight pad or Poise super incontinence pads work really well for those first few heavy days, then just the Depends for the lighter days. No reason to mess up your regular underwear.
- A Sitz bath. It's soothing and healing. You can order healing herbs or go in the bath, or just use warm water.
- Lots of good snacks and frozen meals – Don’t be afraid to ask for meals from friends and family. I promise you, you really will not want to cook, and it is too easy for a mom to focus on feeding the baby and forget to feed herself
Final supply, your birth team.
Your midwife may bring another midwife, nurse, or birth assistant, but it is nice to have a helper there for you who can cook meals, get cool clothes, rub your back, and more. A doula, a supportive family member, or friend can be wonderful in this capacity. A dedicated helper for other children is a must. However, don’t invite someone, (or worse, have someone invite themselves,) who doesn’t have a specific job. Birth is not a spectator sport. People underfoot, mumbling about how long things are taking, or what must the neighbors think, is unproductive and really annoying when you are in the thick of labor. If you are having trouble saying no, talk to your midwife or doula. They can be the bad guy.
A homebirth isn’t the right choice for everyone, but it’s a great option for many women. If you are considering a homebirth, keeping this list in mind is a great start!