Preparing The Nest – getting ready for your homebirth

Posted on Nov 12, 2009 in Birthing, Childbirth Options | 0 comments

Having a home birth can be an amazingly empowering and rewarding experience, not just for mom but for the whole family. In a world dependent on technology, enamored with science, it is indeed a rare accomplishment to birth a baby at home far from epidurals and laughing gas. There is also something magical about going through the birth experience in the place you live day to day, in your own private space where you feel safe and comfortable. Imagine how lovely it is, a year or two later, to look up from where you are sitting and think “wow, this is where we were when this sweet child joined us for the first time!”

Home Birth

Home Birth


A home birth is not particularly more complicated than a hospital birth. In fact, in many ways, it can be much simpler. No forms to fill out, no nurses coming and going, no shift changes, no electronic fetal monitoring—just you, your team and your space. However, you will need to cover a few basics:

Mindset
Try not to fixate on the idea of being at home. Prepare for the possibility of needing or wanting to transfer to the hospital not because you doubt the process but because there is always an element of unpredictability with birth. In the event of a transfer, you will need to remain focused on your birth and your baby rather than being disappointed about ending up at the hospital. Telling everyone in the weeks beforehand that we were “planning a home birth” rather than “having a home birth” helped me to mentally leave the door open for the possibility of a change of venue.

Cleaning
Several weeks before your due date give the place a serious clean. Afterwards you will only need to maintain with spot cleaning/maintenance. No need to feel embarrassed by the state of your housekeeping when welcoming your birth team.

Supplies
Your midwife will give you a list of supplies that you will need to have on hand for your birth. Every midwife tends to have a slightly different list but the basics are all the same. Some items can be found around the house; others will need to be picked up specifically for your birth. If you order your supplies online, keep them in the shipping box in a place that is relatively handy. Add a good pile of old clean sheets, towels and wash cloths. Choose linens that you don’t mind staining. You can also put everything in a laundry basket for easily carting to a different room when labour starts or if you are compelled to move around.

Remember to pack your hospital bag and keep it by the door in case you end up transferring to the hospital.

Food
Shop beforehand for snacks for yourself and your birth team. Good ideas are fruit, popsicles, juice, miso soup, crackers. You can also make up a batch of Labourade or drink Emergen-C. If your labour is long you may get hungry and you definitely need to stay hydrated.

Stock your freezer with healthy heat-and-eat meals to make those first weeks with a newborn a little easier. You can use up some of that late third trimester nesting energy making your own or enlist your family and friends to each donate a meal for your freezer when they ask, “What do you need?”

Siblings
You can choose the level of involvement for older children: whether they go to friend’s house, stay in the next room or wander in and out at will. Try to bear in mind the individual personalities of your little ones as you make this decision. You can prepare them for what to expect with classes, books or even colouring. Talking with kids ahead of time about what will happen during labour and birth will help them take it all in stride. If you plan on having your older children present, it is a good idea to have an adult there whose main role is to attend to them.

Pets
Dogs especially can find the commotion of birth slightly upsetting. Try to have a space for them out of the way or consider arranging a sitter.

From pets and people to prepping the nest, you do have to do a bit of extra leg work before your home birth. It will all be worth it when you don’t have to climb in the car and endure contractions for a twenty minute ride to the hospital. Picture yourself lounging in your own bed as your midwife weighs and measures baby and family members look on—what a great reward for a little extra planning.

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