How to Prep for an Amazing Home BirthFor any birth, you want to protect your mind from scary stories or negative judgments. This is doubly true with a home birth because you need that protected mental energy to see your decision through.via @ParentingJunkieTweet This
If you’re considering a home birth this post is for you! I’ve had 4 births in hospitals and birthing centers – including one that was medicated (I was induced with pitocin and I had an epidural).
There are a million reasons to have or not have a home birth. It’s deeply personal. It completely depends on your unique situation. All births are beautiful and all we really want is a healthy baby. So if this isn’t in the cards for you, don’t worry.
I truly believe that there’s no one right way to birth. Mostly I advocate for women to be empowered and educated about their choices and to feel confident and at peace with the way their birth goes – however that is.
In many regards what happens internally in your own mind is as important as what actually transpires at the birth. Whatever choice will offer you the most peace of mind, confidence, calm and support is the right one for you.
If you’re curious and considering a home birth – I’d love to share what helped me prep for mine because it made all the difference. This follows on last week’s video on 10 top tips for pregnancy self-care.
The truth is the birth was pretty quick and intense and I did not have the time for or interest in many of the things I had prepped: music, candles, heat pack, aroma…
… but, it did give me peace of mind and I was happy that I had those options available had there been a long, tiring period of contractions before the transition phase.
Without further ado, here are my top 10 tips to prepare for a home birth:
- Share with supportive people
I didn’t really tell anyone that I was having a home birth. The reason is that there’s so much stigma, confusion, and conflicting opinions about home birth. It’s kind of a controversial, fringe choice. I really want to keep my mind in a positive place, so I’m not sharing this with anyone who isn’t 100% supportive of home birth. For any birth, you want to protect your mind from scary stories or negative judgments. I think this is doubly important when you’re having a natural birth or home birth because you need that really protected mental energy to see your decision through.
- Create a great team
I don’t know much about unassisted birth, but my good friend Andrea Olsen of Go Diaper Free is an amazing resource for unassisted births. That wasn’t something I was interested in because I had a bit of traumatic history in my fourth birth, and I was worried about that recurring. I decided that I definitely wanted a team for medical backup – midwives and potentially a doula as well. So I interviewed doulas and midwives and it was an intuitive, emotional process to find the right-click. It’s kind of like dating because you need to feel a high level of trust with the team. It’s taken me to my fifth baby to give myself permission to invest the time, money, and energy into finding a team that I feel great about. Do your research and go the extra mile to find someone you feel great with, especially if you’re trying to create a safe atmosphere at home.
- Make preparations for your other children
If you have other children, then you really need to start to think about what they will be doing while you are giving birth. What happens if they wake up in the middle of the night and I’m giving birth? What happens if it’s during the day? Can someone pick them up? Can someone put on a movie for them? You need to feel 100% that your children are taken care of during that time. That can be hard because most of us don’t have really robust support systems. So the months leading up to your birth are a time to form those relationships, hire people or find solutions so that you can go into the birth with a really quiet mind. You also want to decide whether you want your children present in the room during the birth. So I’ve said, if they’re calm and happy, they’re welcome to be there. I think it’s a beautiful thing for children to normalize birth as a healthy, natural process that is part of regular life and not a medical emergency. I would love for them to experience that in my home, but not at the expense of me being stressed out during the birth or them being traumatized and upset.
- Prepare your space
The next thing you want to do is prep your space. I am a very visual person, and most people are very affected by visual input. One of the things that you really want during birth, especially if you’re going for a natural home birth is to increase oxytocin and endorphins and decrease adrenaline or cortisol. Try to create a calm visual space that triggers positive emotions. Maybe the bedroom needs a declutter or reorganization. Maybe remove everything that’s not needed to create some white space and then add a few plants or candles. Really try to make this a sanctuary for yourself where you feel calm and peaceful.
- Prepare for the birthing process
I also prepared for the birth itself. Part of that was preparing my husband, who was my birth partner as well. I’ve got another video coming up on how to prep your birth partner to support you during birth. My midwife also shared a birth kit of self-care items to buy. It included things like plastic-lined, flannel tablecloths to protect the bed, witch hazel, all sorts of pads and things to clean up, and piles of towels. She also supplied me with various teas and herbs to use both immediately after labor and during the postpartum period. You may want to have some kind of fragrance that you love or set up a playlist of meditations or music you can listen to during the birth itself. You might want to print out sheets with words of affirmation, positions, or acupressure points that are helpful to you. You might want to have some kind of accessory like a pregnancy pillow, chair, bed, yoga ball, or simply a few extra pillows.
- Set aside something comfortable to wear
Hospitals put women in hospital robes, and that can put you in the mindset of being a patient or of being someone who is sick. However, birth is a healthy, natural process and not a sickness. So it would be really nice if you had something loose-fitting and very comfortable to wear like a nightgown or a long t-shirt and perhaps even a pregnancy bathing suit if you’re planning to use a tub and don’t want to be naked at that time. Even in my last hospital birth, I brought a little nightie that’s designed especially for birth, and it was so much nicer than wearing hospital robes.
- Set out some pictures
Consider the visual cues around you. Something that could be really fun is to set up a digital photo frame or print out some pictures that bring you joy and that remind you your baby’s coming soon. I set up a digital photo frame and put photos of my other children as infants.
- Have snacks on hand
Ask your midwife or whoever’s caring for you about which snacks to have on hand during the birth. Things people often recommend are banana chips, dates, or any kind of high-energy snacks that are easy to grab and eat as needed. Another thing that can be really helpful is ice chips or a heat pack, which can be really nice when applied to your lower back with pressure to help with contractions. Also, remember to stay hydrated during birth. Have your water and perhaps electrolytes or coconut water to give you that extra boost of energy. Think about things like bath salts, essential oils, and massage oils, and in the early stages, you might also want to do an enema. Consider whatever you need to make the space really helpful to you during birth.
- Carefully communicate your plan
When you’re communicating these things to the people around you, you might want to make a list of things for your partner to do as labor begins: calling the babysitter, heating up the heat pack, getting the yoga ball out from the basement, et cetera. Consider all those things and have them set up beforehand so that you feel totally calm. It’s kind of like packing your hospital bag. Think about how you present the items. Can you put them in a nice basket instead of having just cardboard boxes around your room? Make it a pampering space and as sanctuary-like as possible.
- Have the car seat ready to go
Just in case you need to drive to the hospital or even for the next day, you won’t want to be dealing with installing the car seat after you’ve had a newborn. My husband and I have had several fights after the births specifically around this. So that’s something that you want to set up in advance.
I am so grateful that we had an incredible, healthy home birth and baby K is doing really well. We’re recovering, getting back to our normal pace of life and all of the other kids have welcomed him into the family.
I want to wish you the healthiest, happiest, most empowering birth experience of all. One more thing: remember to make space in your mind for contingency plans, for the fact that you might have to go to the hospital, you might end up having a C-section and it’s still a beautiful and empowering birth experience. What’s important is that you stay healthy and that the baby stays healthy.
If you enjoyed this episode, I’d love to hear which tip you loved most or if there are any I missed on this list. Leave a comment below or join me on Instagram @parentingjunkie!
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