Planning A Home Birth, Safety And Supplies
I am excited to be sharing Zara’s birth story later this week, but first I wanted to write a little about the preparations we took to get ready for her birth, most especially the supplies that we gathered and that were brought by our midwife. Several of our family members were uneasy with our plans to birth at home, which I attributed to the general lack of accurate information about birth and home birth in our culture, and so I thought it might be helpful to share how we planned for Zara’s birth and assured that it would be safe.
First of all, we gave birth under the care of an experienced, certified midwife. Our midwife, Sybille, is a Certified Professional Midwife and an EMT. She began her training in 1994, has worked both independently and in free-standing birth centers, and has attended the births of hundreds of babies. When we were still in the process of deciding whether or not we wanted and could afford a home birth, we met with Sybille and had a detailed discussion about her training and experience, as well as about safety (both during prenatal care and the birth itself). No matter where you are giving birth, I cannot stress how important it is that your care provider not only have the right credentials, but also that her or his philosophies surrounding birth mesh well with your own. There are many different types of midwives out there; Chris and I felt so lucky to have one near to us who had (1) the experience we deemed necessary to provide the best possible care, (2) a view of pregnancy and birth that was very similar to our own, and (3) a good working relationship with our local hospital and doctors. Not once at any point in the process did we feel that care was compromised by our choice to use a non-MD for our birth — in fact, I often marveled following prenatal visits at how much more care Sybille provided than did the providers I saw leading up to Nora’s hospital birth.
After choosing a great provider, the next biggest thing I had to do to make our home birth happen was to keep myself as healthy as possible. It might sound obvious, but I don’t think everyone realizes that home birth midwives only work with low-risk mothers. Our midwife is always erred on the side of caution and there were a number of situations that could have led to me not giving birth at home due to health concerns for me or baby. Because we wanted to avoid those situations, I made a point of eating well, exercising, meditating, and cooking a ton of kale before every prenatal visit. (Well, maybe not always that last one…) Of course, there are some things over which we have no control, but it’s always helpful to start from a place of good health and habits.
A big difference between preparing for a hospital and a home birth are the supplies that have to be gathered. By my 36th week of pregnancy, we had to put together a basket of supplies. Some of the supplies were things that we already had around the house, some of them Sybille gave us because she had some left over from other clients, and some we bought just for Zara’s birth. All of these things were important to ensuring safety, comfort, and cleanliness and gathering them was a big part of planning for our birth.
Supplies We Purchased
I’m sure that different midwives require different supplies, but the following is a list of the things we had to get, for those who might be curious:
- 1 box of latex exam gloves powder free
- Additional sterile gloves
- 2 dozen sterile 4×4 gauze pads
- 8 oz. Peri irrigation (squirt) bottle for betadine
- Sterile cloth cord tape
- 3 oz. Rubber ear syringe
- 2 dozen disposable underpads (“chux pads”) 24”x36”
- K-Y jelly
- Rubbing alcohol & cotton balls
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- 1 tube of homeopathic Arnica Montana 30C
- Menstrual pads
- Digital Thermometer
- Newborn size baby hats, clothing, and blankets
- 6 or more old towels
- Electric heating pad
- Bendable straws
- Paper towels
- Garbage bags
- Food and drink for labor and immediately following the birth
In addition, because I planned a water birth, we had to get a tarp to protect the floor, a new garden hose for filling the tub, and a new liner for the tub.
And, because I’m crazy, I also got all the ingredients for a yummy birthday cake, including naturally colored pink and blue sprinkles. 🙂
Supplies the Midwife BrinGs
On top of the supplies we provided, Sybille also brought her own supplies to the birth, including:
- Homeopathic remedies, herbal tinctures, and supplements to deal with emotional and physical situations such as false labor, stalled labor, maternal exhaustion, anxiety, difficulty coping with pain, high blood pressure, excessive bleeding after the birth, uterine atony, retained placenta, trauma, premature rupture of membranes
- The birth pool, air compressor for filling the pool, and an attachment so we could hook the hose up to our shower to fill the pool
- Ultrasound Doppler (hand held and waterproof) used for immediate assessment of fetal heart tones before, during and after contractions as needed
- Oxygen for either mother or baby – used in situations such as non-reassuring fetal heart tones, maternal shock, maternal or newborn resuscitation
- Bag-Valve-Mask (Ambu Bag) for Neonatal Resuscitation
- Anti hemorrhagic medications for use if needed after the birth
- Sterilized instruments: hemostats, scissors, cord clamps, & suturing instruments
- Topical anesthesia to repair lacerations
- Suturing materials: chromic gut and/or vicryl
- Ophthalmic antibiotic ointment for newborn if requested