Disclaimer: The following is not intended for medical advice. Always consult with your own pregnancy care provider for your pregnancy care and delivery options.
I never thought I’d be the kind of mom who would even consider giving birth home. I mean, what about the potential mess? The unpredictability? And really, is it safe?
However, after laboring at a standalone birth center with my first baby, then transferring to a hospital birth, where I gave birth attended by a midwife, I knew I wanted to explore non-hospital birth options. My daughter arrived safe and well, but after having a taste of both birth center and hospital, I sensed that future births might take a different direction.
When I found out I was expecting my second baby, I interviewed four midwives before making a decision about home birth. Some helped birth babies at a non-hospital birth center, while others strictly served expecting parents in their homes. I opted for a midwife who facilitated births in both locations and as my own pregnancy progressed, we spoke more and more about my birth location options, along with the perks and pitfalls of each.
In the end, my son was born at home. Our plan was actually to birth at a birth center halfway between our home and our midwife’s location, but when labor progressed rapidly we adjusted plans and welcomed him at home. From that moment on, I knew I would always be a home birth mama.
Why Giving Birth at Home Was Right For Me
For me, giving birth at home came down to a few simple reasons:
- I was low-risk. I chose home birth because it was a safe option for me: I was low risk and my baby was healthy. Pregnancy is not a disease or illness, so I did not treat it like one.
- I was more comfortable at home. I also chose home birth because it was more comfortable and convenient for me. For instance, I did not have to labor in a car, juggle childcare for children at the last moment, or shuffle into a car and drive home when my lady bits were still healing. I got to stay home, birth my baby, and then snuggle into bed—the ultimate peace and comfort.
- I wanted my family to be involved. My husband was more relaxed in our own space at home, where he could pop into our kitchen for water refills and favorite snacks while supporting me through labor. And at home, my mom was able to seamlessly fall into her grandma role while waiting for sweet baby cries and sibling introductions.
For all those reasons and more, home birth was the best choice for me and my family. If you too are on the road to a beautiful home birth, here are a handful of my best tips and essential purchases to have on hand:
Consider Multiple Birth Locations
Every labor is different, which means you might not birth in the exact place you imagine. So, as you begin to envision your birth, imagine multiple birth locations. One of my children was born next to my bed using a birthing stool; another in the bathroom, another on all fours with a chux pad protecting my bedroom carpet. At home, you are not restricted to one place and you can easily go with the flow of labor.
Hire a Housecleaner
Your home does not have to be in perfect condition to be the perfect location for your home birth, but if it will bring you peace to have it scrubbed extra clean before your little one’s arrival, get a housecleaner on the books for week 38 or so. And it may not be a bad idea to book her a few weeks after birth too, until you’re back on your feet and ready to resume the cleaning.
Buy Paper Plates
Before, during, and after birth—avoid dishes at all costs. It is not one of those chores that needs your time or attention. Buy the paper plates. In bulk. No regrets. (And actually, now that I think about it, this is solid advice whether or not you give birth at home.)
Brew an Herbal Sitz Bath
My favorite thing postpartum is taking a shallow herbal sitz bath. It’s soothing and healing and the perfect, quiet escape to begin processing the birth experience. Even better, a bit of herbal sitz in a peri bottle is the perfect postpartum pee assistant. Heals the burn in a jiffy!
Fill Up a Baby Basket
When you birth at the hospital they have all the baby necessities, but at home, that’s all up to you. So, fill a basket with a bundle of the very first items you’ll need: a preemie, newborn, and 3-month-old baby outfit, just in case (who knows what size your little one will be?); 2-3 swaddles; baby hats; nipple cream; tape measurer; baby thermometer; bulb syringe; and diapers and wipes. You can check with your own midwife on what they recommend too, like purchasing an at-home birth kit, or they may have some supplies they bring as well.
Make Plans for Your Due Date
This tip is not specific to home birth, but it’s the best advice I have for all expecting parents—make plans for your due date. The majority of babies arrive past their due date, which is why I always like to call mine a “guess day.” But, in the back of my mind I always know the 40-week mark, and I aim to plan something amazing that day—lunch with friends, a massage, or a walk at one of my favorite places—to take my mind off the impending delivery and relax a little before our life changes all over again.
Light a Candle
When labor begins, light a candle to represent your baby’s life—now in your belly, soon in your arms. A softly-lit candle is a peaceful glow and calming focal point throughout the birth experience. And an LED option will help ensure you get the flicker without the fear of forgetting and burning your house down.
Buy Hydrogen Peroxide in Bulk
This cost-effective liquid is pure gold when it comes to home birth clean-up. Hydrogen peroxide removes blood stains like no other stain remover. For that matter, it is a good product to keep on hand for other laundry mishaps down the road.
Prep your Bed
Speaking of the clean-up, preparation for giving birth at home is key. You will want to have two sets of sheets on your bed. First, put the fitted sheet that you will want to snuggle your newborn on once you are tucked into bed after birth on; then, add a waterproof mattress cover on top. The cover can be a reusable and washable one or a disposable option. Once, we even secured a few garbage bags on my side of the bed with some sturdy tape for simplicity’s sake.
On top of the waterproof layer, add a fitted sheet that you are comfortable dosing with hydrogen peroxide if needed or, in the worst case (hey, birth is messy!), tossing. Finalize with top covers and you are all set to labor or birth in the comfort of your own bed.
Stock the Fridge and Freezer
In the month surrounding my due date, I keep the fridge and freezer stocked with both pregnancy and postpartum essentials. Protein bars, electrolyte drinks, fresh fruit, and lots of easy pop in the oven meals—both homemade and store bought—make for simple meals before and after baby.
Prep Thank You Notes Ahead of Time
During labor and after, your baby is everything–your sole focus—as it should be. But there will undoubtedly be people that you want to thank for supporting you along the way. I’ve found it helpful to pre-write thank-you notes to my midwife, partner, and birthing team with small gift showing appreciation for their support.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have home births. In fact, my mom had three hospital C-sections, so that was the context of birth I was familiar with before starting my own family.
But now that I have gone through the experience of home birth three times before—and I’m about to do it again in February!—I am so glad my husband and I researched home birth as a viable option. For us, it was definitely the best choice.
Home Birth Shopping List
Considering a home birth? Be sure to have these items on hand before your big day!
- At-home birth kit
- LED candles to set a peaceful mood
- Waterproof mattress cover because birth is messy
- Hydrogen peroxide for easy clean-up and stain removal
- Depends to keep you comfortable after birth
- Protein bars for quick energy and snacks
- Thank-you notes for everyone who helps you welcome your little one
- Tape measurer for baby
- Baby thermometer
- Bulb syringe
Frequently Asked Questions
What is needed for home birth?
When you partner with a quality, licensed midwife, they will bring all the true necessities for a safe home birth. Some midwives may also require you to purchase a home birth kit with additional supplies. A birth kit will often include single use items like gloves, underpads, a bulb syringe, peri bottle, mesh undies, iodine, and more. You’ll also want to stock up on postpartum essentials that you would have normally received at the hospital.
Is home birth a good idea?
Home birth is not right for everyone. Every pregnancy will be different. You should always assess your and your baby’s health with the guidance of a pregnancy care provider to determine if you are a good home birth candidate before moving forward. Then, be flexible. Trust your gut and trust the medical professional you invite into your circle. Home birth can be a wonderful, safe experience, but just like hospital and birth center births, it comes with risks too, as the ACOG explains.
Will home birth be covered by insurance?
Every insurance is different. Some of my home births were covered 100%, while others were not and I had to pay a portion out of pocket. Call your insurance contact or work with your midwife’s billing specialist to determine exactly what your insurance covers in regard to maternity care and home birth specifically.
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Reviewed by Chaunie Brusie, RN, BSN…