Are you wondering how to prepare for a home birth? Here are some tips to have the best experience with your home birth and how to prepare your body to give birth naturally to your little baby.
There are many reasons why women choose to give birth at home. Some choose it because they are more comfortable at home, some because they want a natural delivery and some because they feel more in control of their environment and choices. For me, it was a mixture of all three plus more.
Find a midwife to start your home birth preparation.
The first thing to do when preparing for a home birth is finding your midwife. Our midwife, Debi, was the one who delivered my best friend’s child as well. I called her as soon as I found out I was pregnant and made an appointment with her. If you are wondering, like I did, you do not have to visit an OBGYN if you are using a midwife. Your midwife should offer everything from ultrasounds and heart rate dopplers to the medicines and oxygen needed for some labors and deliveries.
You will want to start searching for a midwife soon after your positive pregnancy test so you can find a right fit for you as well as make sure you can get in their schedule. Because a midwife is typically the only one you will be working with during a home birth, their schedules can quickly fill up. Some midwives work in a group and may be able to accommodate more deliveries due to a rotating schedule.
Ask lots of questions
Ask your midwife lots of questions and don’t be afraid to interview several midwives before settling on the one you are most comfortable with. After our first interview with our midwife I felt completely comfortable with her experience and capability of helping me and the baby make it through labor and delivery.
Eat, drink and exercise for your home birth
This part should really have been started in preparation for pregnancy but needs to be continued throughout your pregnancy for an easier, safer delivery.
Eat real, organic foods. You will find that during pregnancy your cravings and taste buds may change a bit. The first trimester you may not even be able to prepare your own food. Talk with your partner about helping you prepare healthy meals that you can tolerate. Eating lots of fruits, vegetables, good quality fats and meats will help you keep off excess weight while being sure to give proper nutrients to your body and your growing baby.
You can supplement with a prenatal vitamin. My midwife recommended an organic, whole foods prenatal and to take it at night so it did not cause nausea.
Supporting your body with nutrient dense foods will help it have the energy to push through labor and deliver a healthy baby.
You do not have to quit exercising during pregnancy, but it may need to change a bit. Don’t start any new vigorous activities and don’t do core specific exercises. These can be more harmful than helpful.
Weight training, working on stabilization and light cardio will help your body stay in shape and prepare for the “marathon” that birthing a baby is.
An exercise that I loved during pregnancy was tabata style on a stair climber or elliptical. This type of exercise helped me train for contractions. I would bring the intensity up for 20-30 seconds then back down for 20-30 seconds. I also enjoyed swimming during my second pregnancy because it took all of the extra weight off my body and I was able to get in some decent cardio without the added pressure.
You will be able to talk to your midwife about what exercises are best for you as well as listening to your body and how you feel. Sometimes just a 5 minute walk to the mailbox is plenty for the day.
Water, water, water.
Because your fluid levels will be increasing as your body grows and the baby grows, you will need more water. I recommend purified water in a glass or stainless steel cup. All toxins consumed by the mother will be transferred to the baby so be sure to limit artificial sweeteners, dyes and other dangerous additives. I would also argue that what you put on your body should be considered as well but that can be for another post.
If you need to add flavor to your water, try squeezing some fruit juice into your water and adding a pinch of sea salt. This will also help keep your electrolytes balanced and keep you hydrated throughout pregnancy.
Prepare your spouse
Make sure your spouse is prepared. If they’ve never seen a birth before, have them watch a birth with you. We did this during a birth class and even though it was a bit awkward, it was eye opening and helped us both prepare for what was to come.
Also, practice with your spouse the different laboring positions and maneuvers he can help you with. You may want to talk about the type of coaching you will need from him as well. My first birth my husband petted me and cried while saying “You’re doing so good,” when I really needed him to be strong and more like a sports coach with “You’ve got this! Push harder this time!”. We discussed this before the second baby and he did exactly what I needed that time.
Preparing your home for the birth
Towards the end of your pregnancy, your midwife should start advising you on purchasing your birth kit and getting your home ready. A birth kit will be filled with all of the items necessary for birth and postpartum care. Your midwife should have a list of things for the birth kit or may even have one already put together for you to purchase.
Choose a room you want to set up everything in.
The room I planned on giving birth in with my first child was my living room. I assumed since I was planning on a water birth in the pool that we would need a larger space to set the pool up in but I was wrong. My midwife let me know just how big the pool was and we were able to squeeze it into our master bedroom.
You will want a room that is close to the bathroom so you can easily access the shower, tub, toilet and water hook ups. I preferred a smaller room, which happened to be our bedroom, because it was much cozier and I felt more comfortable. You and your midwife can decide which room will be the best to set up in.
Organize and declutter your home in the weeks leading up to your delivery.
Giving birth in a cluttered environment just packs on stress. If you can declutter and organize your home before the baby comes, you will feel better about it once the baby is here and you need to rest.
Your home does not have to be sterile like a hospital but you do want it relatively clean. A clutter free home leaves the mind with less clutter and will help you to focus more during labor and delivery.
Prepare the atmosphere for your home birth.
Your midwife will be able to instruct you more on your birth kit but the environment is up to you. Some women choose to light candles, dim the lights, use essential oils, etc. All of these things will help create a relaxing atmosphere as you prepare for your home birth.
You can choose to listen to music as you labor or ask everyone to be silent. You do what you feel is best to help you get through contractions. Each birth and woman is different so do what makes you feel the most comfortable. Don’t stress about it too much though. You may end up not using anything you planned for in the moment and that’s ok. With my second home birth, my son came so quickly we didn’t have time to set up anything extra. You can watch our story here.
Hiring a doula may be a good choice as well. They are there to advocate for you, massage you while you’re in labor and help you get through. I did not hire a doula because my husband was such a great support but I may give him a break in future births.
Educate yourself and do research to prepare for a home birth.
Knowledge is power. I assume if you are reading this then you are probable already on board with having a home birth but if not, look up statistics on the safety of home births. You would be surprised at how few complications there are during home births that require hospitalization for some reason. While there is always a risk no matter where you deliver for something to go wrong, you cannot live in fear and should weigh the pros and cons personally before making a decision.
Once you have done the research and made your choice, surround yourself with people that will support your decision and help you on this journey. Stay away from the negative Nancys and do what you feel is best for you and your baby.
Prayer & Meditation on scripture
For You formed my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13
Don’t forget where this new life is coming from. Our creator has designed women to give birth to a child and He longs to have a personal relationship with you both. Meditating on God’s promises and knowing that He has designed you to give birth should give you the boost of confidence to help you get through this moment.
I hope these tips are helpful to prepare you for your home birth! Feel free to leave your questions in the comment section below. If you have any other helpful tips for other mamas share them too.
Read the home birth Q & A I did with Unraveled Motherhood.
If you’re having taco cravings like I did with my second pregnancy, be sure to check out these Sourdough Tortillas for a healthy meal at home!